Town Square

Strange Panhandlers at San Antonio at El Camino

Original post made by Palo Parent on Feb 11, 2008

Am I the only one who has noticed a slow uptick of the amount of strange panhandlers at the intersection of San Antonio at El Camino Real? Last Saturday afternoon there were three of them parked in the median working the people in the various left turn lanes. Before anyone jumps me, there go I for the grace of God go I . . . , OK, said it. Contrast that with one of the other people standing on the sidewalk has at least the gumption to earn their keep by shaking one of those irritating arrow-shaped new housing signs at the traffic.

What is particular is that they don't seem to fit the "normal" profile of other panhandlers that I am used to seeing here and elsewhere. They look like they are taking a break from their day jobs and this is some sort of pychological outlet for them somehow? Don't get me wrong but they seem to go out of their way to engage the left turners in conversation in what I otherwise assume should be a humble process, thus somehow filling whatever human void that they have. A couple of them look a little well fed and one in particular is sporting a fancy layered and frosted hairdo. They even leave their milk crate seats there for the next panhandler.

Flame away, this is just my observation.


Posted by Charlie, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Why are people so suspicious? Paranoia runs rampant in this city. Why doesn't the poster go and ask the men panhandling what their backgrounds are?

Posted by PAMOM, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Hey Charlie - Many panhandlers at this location are women! I've never been "bothered" by these folks, they do like to talk, but not threateningly. Since I am often short on cash, I just say "I can't help you, today" and they say, "That's ok, have a good day" or something else. I agree with Charlie - if you have 2 minutes to wait for the green, ask them their story...

Posted by I saw one, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 9:31 pm

I agree they were not typical. I saw a young man about 2:00 on Sunday and had the same impression that he was new to the business. Pretty well groomed, well fed, well rested, and he wrote his sign with such small letters it could not be read easily from a distance. Something about losing a job, but I could not read the lower part that I think would have told me what assistance he was seeking. I agree though, he did not look the part.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2008 at 8:17 am

We have many in downtown Palo Alto who do not look the part. I know someone who works at Juit and they say that many of those on our streets are driven here in the morning and just hang around Palo Alto acting like they live on the streets because the money is good. When they get cash they can buy their drug of choice. Wise up Palo Alto and stop giving cash to the transients. You're not helping them.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2008 at 9:39 am

I think it's unbelievable that people are allowed to stand/sit in the median like this and panhandle.

Posted by Irene, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2008 at 10:13 am

I was approached on several occasions in front of Trader Joe's in San Antonio Plaza by a very neat looking woman with a small child in her arms or a young couple (caucasian, well dressed, looked like typical middle class residents) who asked for gas money and telling the story about getting stuck here on the way to another state. They did look suspicious and though I did give them some money I felt strange, did not feel any satisfaction from it,had a gut feel that soemthing fishy was going on. Is it just because they did not fit the typical profile?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

You've got to be kidding. The likelihood of that being honest is....very unlikely. All you do is encourage others to frequent the same area. I was harrassed by a solicitor several years ago in the parking lot of the Mt View TJ's and I phoned police and they dealt with it, took it quite seriously, especially as the man was also harrassing women with tiny children etc. Don't put up with it - if you feel threatened, then phone the police.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I was approached once outside Safeway in Mountain View by a woman who said she was on food stamps, but needed money to buy some laundry detergent which wasn't covered by stamps and would I mind, she was embarrassed, etc. but looked respectable. I was reluctant to give money, but did offer to go back inside and buy her some detergent. She quickly made some excuse about not wanting to take up my time and quickly vanished.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:41 pm

They tend to be more professional. Career panhandlers?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2008 at 7:12 am

This crap of panhandling drivers has to stop. Distracting someone who needs to be watching signals and other traffic pushes the boundry of legitimacy. It is time to bring back vagrancy laws. As a start, let's have spot audits to insure that panhandlers are reporting all income and paying taxes on it.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 14, 2008 at 8:33 am

Mr. Wallis,

I agreed with you up until your last sentence. Before we do that, we have to make sure that us big shots in Silicon Valley pay our taxes fairly and squarely... then the panhandlers. :-)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2008 at 9:48 am

Joanna, ask your waitress what the IRS does to her. I have confidence the Big Shots pay every dime they owe.

Posted by JayWalker, a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2008 at 11:22 am

El Camino Real -gutterˇsnipes

Helmut Guy - showers nude behind the ARCO on San Antonio
Thin Man - Scary to the kiddies at Saint Frances High
Belly Bucker & Two Dogs - Phew the oder - says it all
Bearded Boy - where did he go?

Posted by captain kid, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 6:40 pm

keep givin' em hell wally old sport-

cause hell is what you have to give!

Posted by K D, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 7:05 am

I guess there just out stecheing the legs cause sitting on Bus 22 all day can be hard

Posted by C me around, a resident of Ventura
on Feb 17, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Giving them $$ ??? !! Your so LUCKY that when you pulled out your coin purse that a long reaching hand didn't go into it. When I stopped for lunch one day at Carl Jr.s on El Camino (not far from San Antonio Rd.), this homeless looking guy aproached our car from the passenger side where my son was trying to close the door. He held onto the door and stuck his head in and said he needed money to take the bus (can't remember where to, but actually irrevelant). He kept repeating his need, which really scared me. I was fearful for my two sons, who were with me. He pulled out a piece of paper and wrote IOU on it and wanted to know how much I could afford to give him. I ended up giving him money (about three dollars) and told him to forget the IOU, I had to leave...leave, like in RIGHT NOW. That was only the first time I had ever experienced downright forcefullness of a panhandler..(thief). Didn't report it to the police. They would be chasing their tails to find the guy.

One other incident happened at the corner of El Camino and San Antonio a few months ago. There was a tall, slender African American person with a huge sign~asking for $. When I got closer to the stop light, he was mumbling how prejudice people are. I managed to rebutt his statement,asking him where he grew up. (not around here.) I said majority of people around this area are accepting of many backgrounds, we are the melting pot here in this valley. I actually got a smile out of him and drove off into the green light.

The "BIG SHOTS" may pay their fair share, but it's going right back into the streets to the panhandlers~ who no doubt are probably on welfare or other government programs....................some need that helping hand, but not direct cash out of my purse!!!!