News

City mulls options for limiting vehicle dwellers

Palo Alto considers various proposals, including 'approved parking lots,' to address residents' concerns

Palo Alto's controversial proposal to ban vehicle dwellers continues to evolve and may ultimately include designated lots at which people can legally sleep in their cars, according to a new city report.

City staff had proposed an ordinance earlier this year that would make vehicle habitation illegal and subject repeated offenders to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. The council decided in July to delay the ordinance passage after hearing complaints from dozens of homeless residents and advocates.

Since then, city officials have held two community meetings and are planning to hold a third before presenting a new proposal to the City Council either in December or in January, according to a report from Planning Director Curtis Williams.

One idea on the table, according to the report, is an ordinance that would allow businesses, churches and government facilities to "designate parking to accommodate either three medium vehicles or one large vehicle on the property." Providers of these spaces, Williams wrote, would issue approval letters with corresponding dates and required provisions.

The city's Community Service Officer would "serve as a facilitator for those living in their vehicles by providing a list of approved parking lots and social service programs."

The proposal for "approved parking lots," which was recommended by the Community Cooperation Team (a coalition of advocates for the homeless) is one of several options the council will consider when it discusses the topic a month or two from now. Another option, according to Williams' report, is "something similar to the original draft ordinance," which was modeled on ordinances at other cities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

The city currently doesn't have any laws barring vehicle habitation, though it does have a law prohibiting parking in the same space for 72 hours. Over the past few years, business owners and residents from several neighborhoods, particularly College Terrace, complained to the city about vehicle dwellers, according to Williams' report

"Specific incidents have sometimes been troublesome for residents and businesses, in some cases including public urination, trespassing, belligerent behavior, or other actions that are perceived as threats to public safety," Williams wrote.

Police estimate that there are about 20 vehicle dwellers scattered throughout the city, though homeless advocates have pegged the number at close to 100.

City staff plans to hold a third meeting with a working group composed of homeless advocates, social-service providers, neighborhood residents, business owners and church leaders on Nov. 15 before presenting several options to the council.

The council's Policy and Services Committee is scheduled to discuss the topic at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by City Dweller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

Another idea would Palo Alto residents offer their garages and parkways to city Dwellers, in return, city dwellers do the yard work once/week and wear clean clothing daily.




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Posted by Rick
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

"Specific incidents have sometimes been troublesome for residents and businesses, in some cases including public urination, trespassing, belligerent behavior, or other actions that are perceived as threats to public safety," Williams wrote.

Bingo.... this is the exact problem. If a solution involves designated parking lots at which people can legally sleep in their cars, that is A-OK by me.

The larger issue is, why is Palo Alto the only city amongst all our neighbors not to deal with this problem? Why are we willing to be silent on it when it is a real problem to some of our residents? Why not take some action -- humane and thoughtful action -- but make a DECISION! Don't let things fester unaddressed.

And for your College Terrace haters out there on this board, no one believes this is only a College Terrace problem.


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

Like the birds, it's time for the homeless to head south for the winter. I am uncomfortable with people living in their cars on our neighborhood streets and the idea of starting "villages" for the homeless in church and other parking lots is fraught with problems -- look at Occupy Oakland.

Living in cars is a health and safety hazard for the vagrants as well as for Palo Alto home and business owners. it is time for Palo Alto to impose the same restrictions on this as neighboring towns have.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

Fine as long as they are not in residential neighborhoods and move their cars away in daylight hours.

I would also like to ban street parking overnight in residential neighborhoods, just like Menlo Park.

Also, we should ban street parking on street sweeping days and fine those that do.

We should really be looking at this as a parking problem just as much as a sleeping in cars problem. If we could revamp our parking rules in a comprehensive fashion we would not be particularly focusing on the homeless.


Like this comment
Posted by sandy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

"Also, we should ban street parking on street sweeping days and fine those [drivers] that do." YES, YES, YES!!! Thank you!


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Posted by concerned resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

I've spotted at least 2 people on my street that sit or sleep, idling in unassuming vehicles (middle of the night). They're often park under the shade where the street-lamps don't get them. It's creepy and has only made me wary to step outside on my own at night. This type of squatting (or vehicle-dwelling, it would appear?) causes residents to feel unsafe and should be dealt with by the city.


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Posted by residetns also need to be considered
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

I own a little house in College Terrace. I pay taxes, and insurance on it. For the past 10 years or so there has been one van dweller who has about 5 large vans all parked on one of the streets that many take to enter College Terrace. He has managed to live there a long time paying no taxes of any kind to the state or local government, and taking up all of those parking spots along the street. I think that he moves his vans every 72 hours and the police continue to give him warnings. I think that after 5-10 years of warnings, he should be considered sufficiently warned. Possibly someone will post well lucky you you own a house and he does not. I do not not know his circumstances, but it bothers me that I paid a lot of money, all of my savings to purchase this house and he has found a loop hole in P.A. regulations so that he can live free in his parked vans along the sidewalk. If I had wanted to live near numerous van dwellers I would not have bought in P.A. Laws that don't work, need to be changed. The majority of residents in this area also need consideration, not just this one fellow. I told a police who I saw there that I will buy a couple of vans and do as he does, but in P.A. north. I like the trees there.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:17 am

This article states that due to the response of dozens of homeless people and advocates the decision to enact the ordinance was delayed. Dozens huh. Never mind the many thousands of tax paying residents whose quality of life is being compromised who would fully support this ordinance. I have no doubt that if this proposal went to the ballot it would be approved overwhelmingly. Unreal.

The homeless, who the majority have no ties to this community, will keep coming here because we keep opening the door. The homeless advocates know this and continue to take advantage of the patience, humanity, and tolerance that Palo Alto has extended to the homeless population for decades. As long as we are the only city in our region that does not have an ordinance prohibiting this behavior, the problems will continue.

I also resent the notion of a single tax paying dime used to outfit and equip a mobile homeless shelter on either public or private property. We do not need to take on the responsibility and cost of providing sanitation, energy, or shelter to anyone. There is also the issue of administering who would be utilizing these proposed facilities. Who would qualify? Is there going to be a background check? Are the police, who already are working with less staffing and depleted resources, going to be expected to patrol these facilities? Who is going to enforce the parking rules should someone decided not to leave or play by the rules? These are all responsibilities that involve and investment of time and money that we don't have. Our city leaders have expressed how we are facing the most difficult financial time and budget deficit in years, and yet they actually consider taking on an additional financial burden. Again, unreal.

Palo Alto has literally carried the burden of providing support to the homeless population in our region for decades. No other city comes close. All this for the majority of homeless people seeking services who have no ties to Palo Alto mind you. Palo Altans do not have to feel guilty, or question whether we are doing enough. Our city plays host to numerous homeless outreach programs. We are home to the Opportunity Center, Downtown Streets Team, Hotel DeZink shelter program, Downtown Food Closet, and others. Additionally, Palo Alto tax payers allocate an annual six figure allowance to help fund many of these programs.

The point is, as a city, we do more than our share of homeless outreach. Surrounding communities need to carry their share of this burden, but they don't, because they pass common sense ordinances to prohibit this behavior. Meanwhile Palo Alto keeps opening the door and dealing with the negative fallout. Our tolerance and generosity are being taken advantage of. Enough is enough.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

" I will buy a couple of vans and do as he does, but in P.A. north. I like the trees there."

That's a great idea! Get it started, and I will join you, by buying a couple of rusted out vans, and park them in front of each councilmember's house, who refuses to vote to ban overnight campers. I will move them every 72 hours, to another councilmember's house, on a rotating basis. I may even open them up to existing homeless bums.


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Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Fine them $1000 they don't have and lock them up for 6 months in a county jail that has no beds available.

A splendid suggestion.

Are we up to Plan E yet?


Like this comment
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Parking overnight for 5 years is one thing. The other thing is what they do with human waste -- typically they just pee into an empty milk container and pour it into a nearby flower bed or just on the street. THAT is disgusting, unsanitary and unacceptable. You folks who are contemplating camping outside city council members' homes -- try that as a strategy to get their attention. I guarantee results!


Like this comment
Posted by Unfortunately
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm

"I would also like to ban street parking overnight in residential neighborhoods".

A few of my neighbors have eliminated their garages with the ok of the city. One even eliminated his driveway during his last remodel, so now his 3 cars always remain on the street. It would appear the city is gearing up for more on street parking, not less. The advantage to this though is with all the cars on the street, it narrows the available roadbed and slows the drivers, So now they drive the speed limit, so its got a plus.


Like this comment
Posted by carsaren't for sleeping
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

On our streets, Stop letting people sleep in their cars more than a hour a day (like a siesta). Would that work? How would they know how long they have been there? Perhaps Use tire markings and check periodically?


Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Then let them use the only city parking lots between 11 pm and 6 am


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm

"Then let them use the only city parking lots between 11 pm and 6 am"

Gethin,

Would you be comforatble living near one of these parking garages? Do you have kids? Are you elderly? Are you a woman? Are you a home owner?


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The system at Mal-Wart works FOR RV and CAMPERS that use it.

Mal-Wart allows overnight ( and up to several days ) legal camping in their parking lots.

The car sleeping problem has no formal human waste disposal; most class type motorhomes do. I have had one, does that mean that instead of using up street space in MV mean that I can have a free " vacation spot " when I visit my parents in MV?

Palo Alto has become a vagrant magnet, just like MV is an Illegal Alien magnet

No more sleeping in cars; sleep in a motorhome and dump the on board septic system every seventy two hours.

Problem solved.


Like this comment
Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

"The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me," said Jesus in Matthew 26:11. Obviously we don't have him in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm

""The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me," said Jesus in Matthew 26:11. Obviously we don't have him in Palo Alto.""

Michele,

Are you willing to support the poor campers in Greenmeadow? Are your neighbors? Or are you just willing sling stones at others, in Palo Alto, who actually are forced to put up with the campers?

If Jesus speaks to you, Michele, surely you would be willing to give up a room or two, in your own home, to the homeless. Are you?




Like this comment
Posted by YES!
a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 11, 2011 at 3:43 am

wow, now i dont have to look to pay for a hotel to make whoopee!

Sum good ol' fashion back seat love making !


Like this comment
Posted by whyarewe afraid
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

"They're often park under the shade where the street-lamps don't get them. It's creepy and has only made me wary to step outside on my own at night."

Consider this: If you have to sleep in your vehicle, you might not want light shining into your car/eyes.

"Would you be comforatble living near one of these parking garages? Do you have kids? Are you elderly? Are you a woman? Are you a home owner?"

Why do we (some of us at least) automatically assume that these are "bad people" who are waiting to prey on kids/elderly and perform vandalism or theft? Why are we so afraid? Vagrants are not necessarily "bums" nor criminals. I would be interested in any hard data purporting to support that thesis.

Finally, 6 months in jail (with possible loss of vehicle because of fines and storage costs) seems draconian to me.

Note, I do not mean by that above that we should ignore the situation. The sanitary/waste issues themselves are of reasonable concern. What I was struck by most was the fear/anger (hatred?) directed at someone "different from us".


Like this comment
Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

To Dave - yes, we don't talk about it and blow our own horn, but we are actually supporting a homeless man, as in we pay his rent and food, and assist in other ways.


Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

WhyAreWeAfraid, I can tell you from personal experience both professionally, as well as through volunteer work that I've done with homeless outreach, that the vast majority end up on the street for less than positive reasons. Very few found themselves out in the cold because they lost their job. There are some I'm sure, but very few. And no, it is not the case that every person living on the street has a criminal background either. However, a disproportionate number of them do. The common thread would typically involve some level of substance abuse, be it drugs or alcohol. For others, who have more serious criminal backgrounds, their inability to find employment due to the choices they have made in life land them on the street as well. Regardless, it is inevitable that our community would deal with more negative fallout in establishing these mobile shelters. I have no doubt that anyone living near these proposed facilities would likely have to endure additional crime, health and safety issues, negative impact on property values, and loss of peace of mind. Additionally, the notion of spending tax payer dollars for this project during these difficult financial times would be truly irresponsible.

I am not proposing that we as Palo Altans should stop being generous or helping those in need. I volunteer my time in this arena and have for many years. What I am saying is that Palo Alto should not be expected to provided a resource at this level, especially when the majority of our existing homeless population have absolutely no ties to this community other than coming here to take advantage of the many programs we offer. We do more than our share already. It's not even close. Our tolerance and generosity must have some limits.


Like this comment
Posted by WeNeedShelter
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm

A shelter, that is what we need. A place where people can sleep, take a shower and eat a meal. Why can't we have one here in Palo Alto? And do not start with the OC, because we all know that it is not for those who need the most. We need a place for people to sleep when it is cold outside. We need a place with bathrooms for anyone to take a shower....


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm

WeNeedShelter, Palo Alto should not be expected or compelled to build a homeless shelter. Palo Alto already does more than any other community in our region in terms of providing and playing host to homeless programs. We cannot have our patience, tolerance, and generosity taken advantage of further. Palo Alto is already a magnet for those seeking services from throughout the Bay Area. The majority do not have ties to this community. Additionally, I resent being expected to provide assistance any further when the majority of those seeking assistance got there due to the poor decisions they have made in life. Not on our dime, in our town. You are not our responsibility.


Like this comment
Posted by Darwin
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

Phil,

Your statements are incredibly ignorant. "Additionally, I resent being expected to provide assistance any further when the majority of those seeking assistance got there due to the poor decisions they have made in life."

Many PEOPLE who are in their current position are there through no fault of their own. You're basically saying that if someone has a mental illness or had to deal with addiction, but did NOT have a strong support network (i.e. money, family, education) is a sub-human and we should just kick them to the curb.

Also, give me your statistics that show the "majority" of the people are in a homeless situation because of poor choices.

Palo Alto has done a wonderful job assisting those who are less fortunate. We should be the standard that other cities strive to be, and we should be trying to improve that standard every day.


Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2011 at 10:41 am

That's just it Darwin, Palo Alto already far exceeds that standard. Palo Alto plays host to more homeless outreach programs than any other city in our region, in addition to our tax payers allocating a six figure annual contribution to fund many of these programs. I also acknowledged that not everyone ends up on the street by their own doing, and for those suffering with mental disorders, I have no issue with providing some assistance. However, if you suggest that those dealing with drug addiction and substance abuse are victims somehow, I respectfully disagree. They most definitely got there by their own doing and I do not believe that society should shoulder the burden for the decisions they have made in life. What you proclaim does nothing but enable and create entitlements.

I also noticed that you listed your neighborhood as "another community." That alone illustrates my point exactly. Easy for you to say when the problems, issues, and tax dollars are not coming out of your end. I am quite sure that you support these programs as long as they're in Palo Alto and not where you live.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

See my earlier posts on caravansaries.


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Posted by Residents also need to be considered
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:16 am

Does anyone know when the meeting is today?
And can the public attend?


Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2011 at 9:26 am

Walter, I did not see any earlier posts by you in this thread, are you referring to the earlier thread a little while ago? I also posted my thoughts there.

I see a need for a way to allow people to sleep in their vehicles that keeps the surrounding population feeling safe. I think that finding that way would be far cheaper than locking up vehicle-sleepers or building another shelter, and it would be preferable to the people sleeping in vehicles. Those people want security too, and it is hard to feel secure in a dormatory-type situation surrounded by lots of homeless. Being locked safely in your own vehicle with your belongings is better than sleeping on a cot surrounded by people who may wish you harm.

Saying "They are there because of decisions they made in life so I have no sympathy" is a complete cop-out and it is extremely uncharitable. I hope that those people who are so cold-hearted never find themselves replying on others like themselves. I have the feeling that they are very young and have never felt exposed like that, or they are in denial.

There is apparently a BIG difference in the vision of what could be between those who wish to help the vehicle dwellers and those who don't. That means there is a lot of open ground to find a solution that could work for all. A little humanity and creative thought could go a long way, if we can open a discussion involving people capable of creative thought, sidlining knee-jerk reactionaries.


Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

There is a meeting scheduled tonight at 7pm at the city council chambers downtown.

Web Link


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Posted by Residents also need to be considered
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

anon-thanks!
Dave- from Midtown- thanks for appreciating my humor(Nov. 10) and going even further with it. I do believe vans in front of their houses would get their attention! And very soon giving the van-dwellers warning after warning re the 72 hour limit would not suffice. Hey we could have those food trucks with the loud bells serve the van dwellers 3 times a day.


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Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I would like to point out that one of the reasons why there are vehicle dwellers parked where you folks don't like them parked is because they have no alternative. I have known poor people who could not afford to get a hotel room but who HAD to be near Stanford Hospital for early-morning chemotherapy treatments. They had no option but to sleep in their vehicles near the hospital, or die. There are other people who have compelling reasons to spend the night in Palo Alto but cannot afford a room. What should we do, make it illegal to be poor?

One of the reasons why the police are not always forcing vehicle dwellers to move is because the police are human, and recognise that these people need to exist (despire your objections) and have no where else to go. What we need to do is develop a plan, find a place where they can go, be safe and un-harrassed, and not be a percieved threat to homeowners. If we can find a way to do that, everyone wins. If a vehicle dweller happens to park in front of your house, the police can tell him to move because they have someplace for him to move to. Right now, all they can tell him to do is disappear, vaporize. We need to create a viable solution that recognises that these people do, in fact, exist.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm

"but who HAD to be near Stanford Hospital for early-morning chemotherapy treatments. They had no option but to sleep in their vehicles near the hospital, or die"

Then Stanford should allow them to sleep in their cars in the hospital parking lot...duh?

Most of the car dwellers are bums, pure and simple. JustMe, invite a couple of them to live with you for 6 months, and you will then agree with me.


Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I am afraid that the profile of the homeless person that you portray JustMe represents a very small minority. The vast majority are homeless because they are dealing with serious issues involving substance abuse, drug addiction, or a criminal background. Personally, I do not wish to fund and publicly support a mobile homeless shelter that will cater to those who have placed themselves in a negative position due to the choices they have made. Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior in most cases, and I do not want to sanction and further expose our city to these elements.

Most importantly, why should Palo Alto be expected to carry this added burden? As I have pointed out very clearly in my earlier posts, this city already goes far and above any other community in our region when it comes to homeless outreach. Our patience, tolerance, sense of humanity, and generosity are being taken advantage of. It is time for other cities to share this burden.


Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

"Then Stanford should allow them to sleep in their cars in the hospital parking lot...duh?"

Great, why don't you go talk them into doing that.

"Most of the car dwellers are bums, pure and simple. JustMe, invite a couple of them to live with you for 6 months, and you will then agree with me. "

Have you ever noticed that when you identify a segment of the population, impose a stereotype on the lot, and them condem them all based on that stereotype, you end up pretty terribly wrong? It really does not matter if you section off a segment of the population along ethnic, religous, racial, gender, economic status, or any other generalized qualifyer.

Remember that "car dwellers" includes out-of-towners visiting and staying in RVs, your condemnation hits them too. They are also banned from sleeping in their vehicles, even outside their grandkids home. You hit the guys who's wives filed for a divorce, restraining order, and closed off all access to the bank accounts in one day, but who still need to work in the morning to earn money to pay off their new child support payments. You hit the guys who realize they had a bit too much to drink at a party and are just going to sleep it off in their car, preferring not to drive like that.

Be careful, you may end up in your own pile of condemed some day.


Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

No condemnation JustMe, just expecting a little more from people. If this was just an issue of an occasional person sleeping off a few cocktails, or one of the other more innocent circumstances you portray, then it wouldn't be an issue. For the visitors and those in RV's, I would expect that a friend at least allow them to sleep on their private property.

Fact is the majority of the people living on the street are there for reasons that involve more serious life circumstances. Circumstances that I do not wish to sanction in a public domain, much less having to pick up the cost as a tax payer. Palo Alto tax payers already allocate a six figure contribution to many of the homeless outreach programs already in existence here in town.

Palo Alto already has to deal with the negative fallout from playing host to a disproportionate number of homeless programs. Again, it's time for other cities in our region to step up and carry their share of the burden. As long as we continue to become a haven and magnet for homeless throughout the Bay Area the problems will continue. We should not have our long standing tolerance and generosity to be taken advantage of. It cannot come at the expense of our citizens who have worked hard and made sacrifices to create the quality of life we have come to expect in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm

"you end up pretty terribly wrong"

Nope, not at all. My own brother lived much of his life as a bum. Always blamed somebody else for his problems. Refused to work at a regular job ("work is for suckers"). My mother made every excuse under the sun to enable him...it worked, big time...he lived in his vehicle, until the local cops drove him out of town. That was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. He finally had to grow up, at 50 years of age! He couldn't think of any other possible way to mess with the system, and he got hungry...had to take a real job at minimum wage. Best thing that ever happened to him, and he would agree, today.

Most of the homeless at there because they are bums. Examine each and every one of them, then you will understand the truth of their situation.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Even if they are there because of bad decisions they made, does this mean they should just go away? Why not a few churches opening their parking lots and toilets with showers to vehicle dwellers? Or a couple of parks with showers? With occasional police roll by?


Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

The church parking lot is a good idea, however they would be liable if anything happened. their insurance prolly wouldn't cover this.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm

As far as the church lot idea goes, what about the impact on the surrounding neighborhood? What controls will be in place determining who qualifies to stay there? It was just a few years ago that murder took place near a Palo Alto church that participates in the Hotel DeZink temporary shelter program. The church is located on Middlefield Rd. near Addison School. In that case a homeless man shot and killed another homeless man during an argument. We do not need that level of unpredictability in our neighborhoods.

Same goes for the city parks. I have serious concerns over what impact it would have on the surrounding neighborhood. Again, who is going to administer and manage a mobile shelter, and at what further cost to tax payers? The police department is already working with less staffing and resources, and hardly need to worry about policing a shelter of this type.

The real issue here is that Palo Alto should not be asked or expected to open its doors to another homeless shelter of any type. The many outreach programs that Palo Alto already offers exceeds that of any other city in our region, as well as making a six figure annual tax contribution to fund many of these programs. Furthermore, the majority of those being served at these shelters have few if any ties to Palo Alto. I don't expect people to just disappear Walter, but I do believe that Palo Alto needs to have some reasonable limits on the programs we do offer. This disproportionate level of service is compromising our quality of life, and needs to be reevaluated. We cannot allow our sense of humanity, generosity, and tolerance to be taken advantage of. Enough is enough.


Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

"The real issue here is that Palo Alto should not be asked or expected to open its doors to another homeless shelter of any type."

Jesus said "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.' The reason he said that was because rich people tend to become rich by hording their wealth, taking advantage of others, and refusing to help those in need. In short, their attitudes tend to run parallel to the attitude you display. Whether or not you believe in him, or are religous at all, there is still wisdom there.

The way the economy is going, (Greece, Italy, USA credit status, quantitative easing,...) there might soon be many more people wishing to sleep in their cars.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2011 at 9:28 am

And you are far too quick to categorize who is rich JustMe. I started with nothing and worked my way to a comfortable existence in life. I was not born with a silver spoon by any stretch, nor did I require or ask for anyone's assistance. I don't horde my wealth as you put it, or refuse to help those in need. I sought an education, avoided making self-destructive life decisions, didn't buy things I couldn't afford, made many sacrifices along the way, and managed to put a little away so my family and I could be self-reliant. I truly believe that this is the life experience for most people in Palo Alto.

You'll be happy to know JustMe, I have also volunteered many hours working in homeless programs and youth job training. I supported many of of the multitude of homeless outreach programs that Palo Alto has to offer, including making private donations. This experience has taught me to have a balanced perspective on this topic. I do not advocate that Palo Alto should stop helping those in need. But I also know from my experience that our open door policy on the homeless has a downside and considerable fallout. A fallout that no other community in our region is having to cope with.

We as Palo Altans have been incredibly tolerant and generous when it comes to homeless issues for many decades. That tolerance and generosity must have some reasonable limits however. We cannot have a downtown area that people avoid, citing having to deal with the homeless, drunks, vagrants, and panhandlers as one of the primary reasons. We cannot be a magnet for homeless people from throughout the Bay Area. As is stands the majority of those seeking services in Palo Alto have few if any ties to this community.

You are proposing that we do more to help the homeless JustMe. The fact is we already do more as a single community than any other city in our region. Again, there has to be some limits. We cannot be the only city carrying this burden. Our tolerance and generosity are being taken advantage of, and I resent anyone playing the guilt card.


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

I'll clarify my earlier comment.

Many cities have a homeless ( due to bad personal choices ) problem that the solve by having a charity give out bus tickets, especially at this time of year. Guess where a majority choose to go? The SFBA is one of the prime spots..No freezing cold and a chance to score easy pickings.

Out in Denver, these " homeless by choice " often defend the top spots, sometime with violence that actually makes headlines...

A spot on a city heating system grate commands the top of the list when it comes to " defending your turf " at this time of year.

Yes, we have missions, but they have strict rules on alcohol and drugs...which is why I bring up the words " homeless by choice ".

Palo Alto looks better to many of the turf war losers. Just go to a charity, get the charity to give them a bus ticket and you have another " homeless by choice " person in the ( not so Golden ) State.

Warning: these " homeless by choice " are better suited in your more violent cities like " Oaktown "...as they may disrupt the peace in Palo Alto and claim turf there.


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Posted by Anne
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

What are Mountain View and Menlo Park doing about these issues? We need a more regional solution, but yes, at some point,it does come down to personal responsibility, and the choices people make. Be sworn at every time I walk down University and don't give $$$, which I often don't have at this point and time,is unfair to those who pay their taxes and participate in the community, not just work the system. Yes, most of these people seem to have issues, which cities alone can't fix, but that belongs more at a state level with social and mental health services taking the lead.... and that's not going to happen.


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