News

City to crack down on El Camino RVs

Enforcement of 72-hour parking ordinance to begin in coming weeks for parked motor homes

Nearly 50 recreational vehicles lining El Camino Real in Palo Alto along the Stanford University border will soon be told to move along if they've been parked there for more than 72 hours, city officials said.

In recent months, residents of nearby neighborhoods and others passing along the thoroughfare have noted an increase in the number of the large vehicles along the west side of the street between Medical Foundation Drive and Serra Street.

El Camino Real is a state-owned highway. It's not uncommon for a few motor homes to take up residence along its curbs, but now there are at least 48, not including the SUVs and vans, occupying the roughly one-mile stretch. Some motor-home owners said they also own cars used for daily transportation, which are also parked on the street.

Palo Alto's municipal code section 10.36.030, which complies with state law, prohibits leaving a vehicle parked on a city street, alley or public lot for 72 consecutive hours or more. A vehicle is considered parked or standing if it has remained inoperable or has not been moved at least a half-mile. In the next few weeks, the Palo Alto Police Department will place flyers on the vehicles as a warning, and vehicles that don't move will be given a tow warning, said Claudia Keith, City of Palo Alto spokeswoman.

RV owners interviewed by the Weekly on Wednesday said enforcement has been lax until now because there aren't many businesses on that side of the street whose owners would complain. Stanford University open space and fields are adjacent. The vehicle dwellers said they have not heard of the planned enforcement.

(Read more about the RV dwellers who are calling for more affordable housing and fewer regulations here.)

Some said they would take it in stride and simply move the required distances; others said they thought that many RV owners would move on because they don't want to be hassled.

The ticketing is part of a larger plan that city staff are working on: The city's Community Services Department requested Santa Clara County social service caseworkers to do outreach to the vehicle dwellers to assess their status and direct them to resources or remind them about the 72-hour ordinance, Keith said. Caseworkers have already reached about one-third of the vehicle dwellers, she said.

The city's Transportation Division also plans to install signs regarding the 72-hour ordinance, she added.

Social services outreach workers recently contacted Bob Lochridge, a 72-year-old retired tech worker who has lived in his RV for 10 years and moved to El Camino in January. He said he owned a self-hypnosis studio on California Avenue in 1969 and has lived in Palo Alto since 1967. Palo Alto is his home, and he doesn't want to move far away from the place where he is moored, he said.

Lochridge lived on a boat in prior years, including in Alviso and Redwood City, and at the now-closed Palo Alto Yacht Harbor. Since returning to land living, he has spent time in his RV and also with female friends in homes mostly in San Jose.

Lochridge said he would comply with the law.

"It is what it is. It won't impact me. This thing starts right up, and I can just move to another part of El Camino Real. But I can't speak for all of my neighbors. I think most people won't feel as casual as I do about it," he said.

The vehicle dwellers said they don't know why there seem to be more RVs. Lochridge speculated it might be that some people want to be near the Opportunity Center at 33 Encina Ave., which provides services to homeless persons. He personally does not use the Opportunity Center, he said.

Another RV resident said that parking enforcement isn't going to solve the problem. A contractor, he moved to Palo Alto a few months ago after parking in San Jose.

"I ran up $1,000 in tickets. Even when you move every 72 hours they still ticket you," he said.

He was pragmatic about any impending enforcement by Palo Alto police.

"How am I going to feel? It's their land and they can tell you what to do," he said.

Eric John Diesel, a real estate investor, mathematician and neuroethicist who lives in his SUV, suggested the city should ask Stanford University graduate students to conduct a study of where the vehicle dwellers lived a year ago and two years ago to try to understand if the numbers have really increased and perhaps why, he said.

Diesel has owned multiple properties in the area and said he was the victim of alleged financial fraud. He now eschews living in one place.

He is against forcing the RVs to move. Many of the vehicle dwellers are already in desperate circumstances and have medical or other issues, he told the Weekly.

"If the city makes it even harder to live than it already is, it's just being cruel," he said.

"The slightest harassment, such as having their vehicle-home ... impounded ... or even getting a costly ticket, can completely destroy the life of a vehicle dweller, who is already living at the edge of existence, homelessness, and despair," he said in a follow-up email.

Instead, to solve the issue of concentrations of vehicles, local cities should take a regional approach and work together, he said. By providing parking zones up and down the Peninsula, they would spread out the RV population, making it less visible.

People who live in vehicles tend to congregate near food and basic amenities, such as showers, so opening up parking areas with access to amenities would help keep the RVs and other vehicles out of residential neighborhoods, he said.

Keith said that Palo Alto is looking into a broader solution: City Manager Jim Keene has been in touch with other city managers to discuss the problem.

"This is clearly not just an issue in Palo Alto," Keith said.

In addition to the city's planned outreach and parking enforcement, Keith said the city responds to specific complaints about abandoned vehicles through a phone hotline: 650-329-2258 or by email at cityofpaloalto.org, which accepts messages 24 hours a day. Callers concerned about a vehicle should provide a description of the vehicle, location, license plate number and how long it has been parked, according to the city's website.

Related content:

Behind the Headlines: cracking down on RVs

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Comments

62 people like this
Posted by Andy
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:34 am

Move your RV every 3rd day. Join a gym membership for about $50 per month for a daily shower, bathroom and maybe a workout. Once a week, wash your clothes at the laundry mat with a TV. Starbucks for internet service and a cup of coffee. Fast food for less than $10 per day.
This is the life of many who can't afford permanent housing.


46 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:49 am

[Post removed.]


132 people like this
Posted by Camp Palo Alto
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 8:23 am

RV street camping is a SIGNIFICANT problem in Palo Alto.

Our business is located in the small industrial park south of San Antonio Road and East of Charleston. The area is a unique mix of small industrial and tech office with little on-site parking due to the age of the development.

The RV situation here is unbearable. The RVs have been camped out so long that you can see them on Google satellite images. If it was just one or two occasional RVs, this would be tolerable. But its not.

Each RV has two or three other vehicles attached. This takes up 5 or 6 parking spaces that could otherwise be used for our employees. The RVs and cars are typically in poor repair and drip oil/fuel on the street and gutter.

The 72 hour rule does not work. The RV campers wait until evening then shuffle the cars around to defeat the 72 hour rule.

It gets worse. Sundays are typically the days that the RVs empty their holding tanks into the storm drain when few people are around. The neighbourhood smells like a wastewater treatment plant.

If this was an occasional issue, we could easily accommodate the RVs. Unfortunately, these are actually permanent squatters, that do not respect the neighbourhood, frequently rummage around our office building, and take needed parking away from legitimate businesses.

If we want to be compassionate, CPA needs an active program to monitor the problem and help the squatters find permanent housing. Perhaps setting up a parking lot near Baylands Park that offers services (utility connections, waste dump station, and assistance finding permanent housing) is a possible solution.

In the meantime, we would be fine posting No Overnight RV Parking signs in our neighbourhood.


56 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 23, 2017 at 8:35 am

My understanding is that the majority of the RV's belong to construction crews who are here for jobs. People who have a limited time span for a job do not want to get apartments. If they are working on a SU project then SU should create a space in their back area - which is extensive - to accommodate the construction crews. Not sure about the rest of the people - city needs to get them in a different area away from schools.


38 people like this
Posted by Julie armitano
a resident of University South
on Jun 23, 2017 at 9:44 am

They shouldn't be there.


43 people like this
Posted by realistic
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2017 at 10:32 am

Saying they shouldn't live there is easy, but what are the alternatives? The city clearly does not have enough housing for everyone who works here. Are there any openings at nearby mobile home parks? Can more mobile home parks be built? If most of the people really do work at Stanford, can Stanford help them? Forcing them to live many miles away and then contribute to traffic and pollution every day to get to work is a poor solution.


74 people like this
Posted by PA resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2017 at 10:48 am

Personally, I don't like to see the RVs and junky vehicles on the streets either, but also I understand that many of the dwellers are legitimately in desperate situation.

Why our local tech billionaires do not help to those genuinely in need? Perhaps divert some money from supporting charities in e.g. Africa, and help locals?


8 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 10:59 am

[Post removed.]


82 people like this
Posted by Midtown man
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:13 am

Picture this: on internet social media, a popular site touts the possibility of moving to a place where you can live for virtually nothing, right in the shadow of Hoover tower, in a city where hassles are few and people are suckers for the down and out. Who wants to work for a living when you can get by for almost nothing, and be a martyr living in sunshine and tropical splendor, almost beneath the canary palms of one of the world's great universities, getting many free services, using their free facilities. Some liberals will even justify these free RV Parks on a state highway as a justified entitlement, and an indictment of the one per cent who live here. A modern Hooverville! Steinbeck --a. Stanford student--would be proud (or appalled?) at the irony!


31 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

Let's just hurry up and get to where we are going to end up anyway, and make the whole city permit parking. As I mentioned in another thread, so of the camper parking on El Camino is just straight abuse of the system, like this Bus/AirBNB:

Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:24 am

The City should do whatever it can to get these RVs off El Camino. It's gross. Why not provide overnight parking in one of the garages in town?


2 people like this
Posted by DTSB
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:44 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by One Away
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm

"make the whole city permit parking"

Yup.


93 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm

It's kind of sad how the privileged make use of any excuse to exaggerate every
problem with fearmongering.

Reading about this issue we hear that the same RVs have been parked here for
20 years and show up in Google Maps.

Claims they are in disrepair ... implying they are dangerous and illegal when there
is no evidence of that.

I've heard claims that over half of them are jacked up on bricks, but have yet to
see a single brick under any of them when I drive along ECR almost every day.

Claims that they drip oil or are in some way a toxic threat, while the same Conservatives
want to drop regulations on coal or pollution in drinking water.

Assumptions that living next to a major thoroughfare is a paradise of low cost luxury
while using the services of people in the same plight and just happy they are more
out of sight,

In sight or Hoover Tower talking about Hoovervilles ... and I bet the person doing it
doesn't know anything about what Hooverville was? We have the same problems
now after going some length to solve them, the "Hoovers" have bought the government
and created the same and increasing levels of inequality as back then.

Trying to embarrass or shame us into attack defenseless people by saying we are a
city of suckers being taken advantage off. Personally I feel more taken advantage of
by the annoying private airplane owners who fly over our houses rattling the windows,
or the multi-millionaires who are buying up the houses and making construction
noise non-stop for years that actually reduces the quality of life in our city.

Trying to connect the Opportunity Center to RV's is another unproven accusation.
I walked by the OC a few times going to the PAMC or T&C and those people do not
appear to be solvent enough to afford motor homes and registration if I had to guess.
It's easy to toss out all these nesty comments ... fake news? ... why don't you all
give us some proof. Why with all our great Stanford brains are we not DATA-DRIVEN
in everything?

These folks are away from houses, they are not taking up business parking for the
most part. Trying to solve the problem with calm and information is a better idea
than just blind attacks. After all, we see billionaires in the news everyday that have
a much more negative impact on the country than these folks.



40 people like this
Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Aletheia is a registered user.

About time we did something about that eyesore!


49 people like this
Posted by Schreed
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm

It is about time something was done. I am sorry that there are people who can't afford to live here but at the same time we have to maintain just a bit of sanity, cleanliness, and livability. Just letting things slide into anarchy serves nobody's interests.


28 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm

To me, it is nothing more than common sense:
If you have a financial blow, seek help from the myriad of resources available.
I sympathize with local residents with financial challenges. Things can happen.
I do not agree with public resources being overly directed to personally self-created problems such as opiod abuse, alcohol abuse, criminal records.
Millions of us refrain from illegal drugs and the ills they create.
Claiming permanent dependency means you then agree to major intervention.
For those who have traveled here to set up residing in their vehicles, they need to promptly use local services to improve their living situation to an acceptable standard for public health and community safety and community sanitation/public health standards.
There are thousands of choices of likely better suitable places to reside, where one may easily afford housing and have a chance at basic labor type work. Suburbs with highly educated populations seem less than ideal for getting back on one's feet.
Don't make this a "lifestyle" of camping out in your vehicle without proper sanitary, electrical, etc.
Don't subject dependent children to your itenerant vehicle -based lifestyle, should you choose that.
Understand the public roadways are not intended for extended parking/ "camping out."


27 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Gee, it's almost like Palo Alto needs more housing. Thank you, forty years of Residentialism!


70 people like this
Posted by Camp Palo Alto
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

[Portion removed.]

Please drive over to our neighborhood (Transit/Commercial/Industrial) and look at the problem with a critical eye.

These are multiple decrepit vehicles taking advantage of CPA lax enforcement.

The streets were slurry sealed and restriped about 18 months ago. There are no parking stripes under these vehicles as they have been camped out every time CPA tried to restripe.

Look carefully at the pile of debris, grease, and oil under these decrepit vehicles.

Look, the answer to insufficient housing cannot be parking a 40' decrepit RV and three old International Scout SUVs in front of our place of business, or parking a 38 foot RV and three old Jaguars, or a wood clad ancient firebox RV and two barely operating pickup trucks.

Please, drive by and see the reality of CPA lax enforcement.

BTW...magically...none of these vehicles are ever parked in Crescent Park. What's up with this?


2 people like this
Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Aletheia is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Jens
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

City to crack down on El Camino RVs is what the headline says. Playing Musical Chairs is what the article seems to imply.


2 people like this
Posted by One Away
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed.]


61 people like this
Posted by Scotty the Boot
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:37 pm

How do they pay auto insurance with no address? How do they pay taxes? Where do they deposit waste and trash? What are they doing to get out of their RV? Who is a convicted felon or not? THEY ARE ACROSS THE STREET FROM A HIGH SCHOOL HOW IS THIS OK??


3 people like this
Posted by One Away
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:45 pm

@Elizabeth "Gee, it's almost like Palo Alto needs more housing. Thank you, forty years of Residentialism!"

If only we'd built more housing. All of this could have been avoided.
Darn Residentialists. Always messing things up for the rest of us!


31 people like this
Posted by allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

I don't know why these people are there. But I know because I owned an RV for 25 years and camped in state parks that these people are wonderful people. They would tell my their life's stories. I never quite know why they did that but talking to RV owners who are not in the latest most expensive RV is what I miss most about getting rid of it. I also know that Stanford has a very nice bathroom facility that opens up every day at 7AM. I know because I used it and an obvious RV owner (homeless person) told me when on a bicycle ride I inquired it it was unlocked. I feel for these people. Back when I was in college, Regan closed all the mental hospitals and all california communities felt the difference. Now that we have such staggering income inequality we 1%ers can complain how unsightly these drifters are. I don't know the solution and I don't mind the RVs on El Camino, but I hope someone figures it out. If Trumpcare passes and we deny healthcare to people no won Medicade so we can cut taxes on the wealthy, I will be ashamed to be an American. That much I know.


51 people like this
Posted by Marty
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:51 pm

They don't bother me. The are not trying to cause problems, just trying to survive. Let's not add to their misery just so our tender eyes don't have to see someone with less money than us.


14 people like this
Posted by lapoissonne
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

This one is so hard to comment on. They are a huge eye sore all over town, Mountain View and most of the Bay Area but you hear of families going over East Palo Alto, kids and all, living like this without basic necessities and heaven forbid anyone gets a tummy ache and really needs to use the shower! Sure some people are squatters and like the old guy prefer this way of life and embrace it while I think a majority of them would love to have a home to live in but they simply can't afford it here. This area has become so elitist that even a small medium income family can barely get by unless they lived here for decades or inherited a home. I'm glad the outreach programs and looking out for those who want more options then this life. Could you imagine living in there on hot or really cold nights and days?! We need more options for our lower and mid income families then we have here because they are really the backbone of our towns and do all the little jobs for those who live in their big houses behind big walls and give a safe place for those who feel this is their only option to go to so they can safely dump their waste and live a clean life.


52 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 23, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Wait till there is one parked by your house. Will change your tune fast.


59 people like this
Posted by Third Generation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2017 at 3:22 pm

It's easy to spout sympathy when it doesn't directly affect you. I'd like to see all the liberal elites invite these people to their houses to shower and live in front of their houses. Yes, there is silence in response. If we couldn't afford our mortgage, we'd move. No one has a right to live in a place where they cannot afford. There are plenty of cheap places in America to live but people are entitled and spoiled. America is great because of capitalism and everyone has a chance to improve their lives if they choose. These people choose not to. The veterans are a different subject; the government really should help them. But others are being stubborn.


20 people like this
Posted by Tsk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 4:12 pm

@PA resident:
You ask, "Why our local tech billionaires do not help to those genuinely in need?"

The billionaires and everyone else worked like heck to afford to move here—why should the billionaires help them instead of us? My house is too small but I'm not asking for handouts. The billionaires should help those who cannot help themselves. If they are billionaires, they are likely workaholics with little sympathy for those who want to leech off others.

I am surprised but relieved that the city of Palo Alto is addressing them.


44 people like this
Posted by Stanford Guy
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm

A correction for Crescent Park Anon. I walk by the RVs every day, and many(half or more) are on blocks. The blocks are on the sidewalk side to level the vehicles. Maybe you didn't see them in your quick drive by, but get out of your car and you will.

There has been a noticeable increase in the detritus around the area since camping has become so prevelant. There is no accommodation for trash, no accommodation for sewage, where do you think this ends up?


30 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I have no problem with the RV's on El Camino. I also don't have a problem with the city enforcing the 72 hour rule, which will probably not decrease the number of RV's as they will just reshuffle. It is what it is. It might be different in other neighborhoods, but I don't see a problem with the RV's parked next to Stanford.

However, if many of the owners are in fact working at Stanford or in treatment at Stanford hospital, I believe Stanford should be held responsible for providing a place for them to park their RV's on campus. Stanford benefits from the medical charges to patients and low salaries to its contract employees. They should take responsibility for their housing.

My understanding is that Stanford has made no provision at all for housing the 3000 new employees the new medical center will need, many of whom cannot afford to live anywhere close to their job. I hope the County supervisors will require Stanford to provide more housing for lower income employees when considering their next GUP.


12 people like this
Posted by Tsk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Marie, if these new employees are accepting the jobs, they have to figure it out. Why does an employer have to provide housing for their employees? Everyone is becoming so entitled. First, it's health care, then housing, and people want college paid for too. Why not ask the employer to pay for their grocery bills too? What has happened to everyone's work ethic? I suggest some people consider moving out of the country if they want the government to take care of all their needs. 3000? Embarcadero is going to be dreadful. Good thing some are shift workers.


31 people like this
Posted by Tsk Tsk
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm

@TSK, once upon a time, employers provided not only health care but also pensions and gold watches to loyal employees who put in 30 years. They weren't driven by the MBA mentality to get the most for the least, to import lots of $60,000 Visa employees so they can avoid hiring Americans, to use temp contractors to avoid benefit expenses, to outsource to to cheapest countries. to fire people as soon as they hit 50 (now it's 44) and make them train their cheaper replacements.

Once upon a time, the companies gave back to their communities and didn't expect the residents to pay for their bike bridges, their employees' commuting expenses and Lyft services.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

KTVU has been reporting on this tonight.

Now will this encourage more vehicles to come to Palo Alto to join those we already have. Publicity in this case may not be a good thing.


21 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:24 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Resident - Unintended consequences abound. It could attract more campers, it could drive campers into residential areas.

@Cresecent Park Anon - Let me join in the line of corrections - one of the campers recently caught fire, it looked like it had been added on to in the back, and burned. The husk had been parked in front of the opportunity center for the last couple months, not sure if it is still there. So many are definitely in disrepair, dangerous, and illegally dumping sewage.


8 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Boarding houses or Single Occupancy Room rentals used to be popular for low income housing. But those are rare here thanks to zoning and deed restrictions to safeguard single family neighborhood land values. Even downtown, it is hard now to find multi-family zoning on standard house-size lots for more than 3-4 units. (Wasn't Casa Olga the last SOR in town?)

But, good news, our firehouses are all becoming boarding houses since many firefighters live far away while earning lots of OT. New firehouses in our neighboring towns look like boarding houses. EPA's on University. MV's two on Shoreline by the Bay and train tracks.

How many ADU/garage conversions have been permitted in Palo Alto since the ordinance changed and how many are in the permit pipeline?

Anyone with a spare driveway or front yard space at a single or multiple family house care to put out a welcome mat for an RV renter if the City and your deed allows such long term off-street RV parking?

Camp Palo Alto, why not get the planning department to enforce its commercial-only zoning in your neighborhood to prevent anyone living on your streets overnight? Or are City streets such magical places that I could, for example, have a 24/7 lemonade, ice cream or food truck commercial enterprise on the street in front of my house in an SR1 neighborhood? I could charge them a license fee for using my plumbing facilities.

A new vision for all Palo Alto garages to solve once and for all the homeless and Climate Change issues at the same time! Electrical hookups for Tesla cars and an RV pumping station for RV clean-outs in every Palo Alto home garage.




18 people like this
Posted by Tsk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Tsk Tsk: I hear you, but times have changed and people must change along with times. I see many of people spending a lot of money on Starbuck's each day, and other non-necessities. Suze Orman has to tell people this obvious advice all the time. People need to start saving money for retirement. If that means moving to a less expensive area, they should do it. Social Security is peanuts and people need to save money while they can still work. Too old for tech work? Find something else! Take the stance of immigrants, who cherish the work opportunities. Americans spend too much money and it continues with each generation because they learn the spending habits from their parents. 57 million Americans have no emergency savings: Web Link Not everyone can afford to live here. My children who grew up here, won't be able to afford to live here so they will live elsewhere.


50 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2017 at 8:12 pm

" Gee, it's almost like Palo Alto needs more housing. Thank you, forty years of Residentialism!"

No, thank twenty-plus years of rampant commercial development under the likes of Kniss, Beecham, Mossar, Eakins, Burt, Klein, Kleinberg, ..., which enthusiastically promoted building needless offices on all those sites where needed housing could have been built.


49 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm

City Council made one of it's biggest blunders of all time in November 2014 when it voted to repeal its Prohibition on Human Habitation of Vehicles Ordinance No. 5206, Codified as Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 9.06.010. It is past time to reinstate the City-wide ban--the same type of ordinance already on the books in neighboring cities.

As I said at the time, opposition to allowance of vehicle dwelling is not the same as opposition to the people that are dwelling in their vehicles. My views are not an attack on the homeless; I've met many people living in their cars in Palo Alto. Many of them are good people at heart, and I support the abundant sensible efforts to extend food, clothes, humane shelter, and social services to unhoused individuals in our community. This issue is about quality of life, fairness, safety, and community. It is also about ensuring that our government listens to the hard-working, tax-paying residents of this city rather than bowing to a (often vocal) minority of special interests.

Ordinance 5206 was passed only after two-plus years of debate and study about how best to respond to citizen complaints. See Web Link. City Council reversed all of that work and hard-earned compromise without any study or debate whatsoever. The City Staff report at the time noted that a quarter-million dollars had been spent on outreach to vehicle dwellers,, but there is no evidence that any of this money helped a single vehicle dweller move off of the street. Social services outreach will not help house people who prefer to live in their vehicles while it remains legal for them to do so.

The presence of vehicular inhabitants throughout Palo Alto constitutes an ongoing nuisance, safety hazard, zoning violation, and degradation of residential neighborhoods incompatible with their traditional and intended character. The ordinance was enacted to address these problems. No thanks to the repeal of the ordinance, those problems remain.

Do not be misled. The ordinance was and is constitutional. The City Attorney’s report concluded that, even when viewed in light of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Cheyenne Desertrain, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., 754 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir. 2014), Palo Alto Ordinance No. 5206 “is consistent, in our view, with constitutional requirements.” The conclusion that the ordinance is fully lawful and enforceable was correct then, and it is correct now.. Nothing in the Desertrain opinion nor in any other precedent prevents enforcement of an ordinance like the one Palo Alto had passed whose aim is to prohibit the use of a vehicle as a place to live. Palo Alto’s ordinance does not suffer from the vagueness and arbitrary enforcement the Ninth Circuit identified with respect to the Los Angeles ordinance at issue in Desertrain, and even if it did, there is no reason to believe that legally sound enforcement instructions could not be crafted in a manner consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s guidance.

The City Attorney recommended repeal of the ordinance because it concluded that costly litigation was likely, and that expense could be used instead to pursue other solutions. Repealing an ordinance anytime someone threatens to bring a lawsuit sets a dangerous and ultimately paralyzing precedent. Some would argue that litigation costs would be a better way to address resident concerns than ineffectual outreach services. But that is not a choice that needed to be made. The opinion of the City Attorney, both now and at the time the ordinance was enacted, is that the ordinance is lawful. It is the job of the City Attorney to defend the City against lawsuits. Funds for legal disputes are built into the budget as a necessary part of running a city. Further, the risk of this very litigation was factored into the decision to pass the ordinance and to make additional funds available for outreach. Outreach of a different kind—to legal professionals in the community willing to help the city on a pro bono basis—would reduce any litigation costs even further. Neither vehicle dwellers nor any other special interest group should have veto power to repeal the reasonable rules by which all citizens in a civilized society governed by the rule of law must live.

Palo Alto should work with willing citizens to craft real and sustainable solutions. I have been communicating with Palo Alto Councilmembers, Staff, Police, parking enforcement, code enforcement, and city managerial personnel for almost five years on this topic, at all times volunteering to work with them on developing workable solutions. I am not alone in having done so. Apart from the Palo Alto ordinance, other ideas for reversing what remains a significant decline in the quality of life for those living in areas Palo Alto impacted by vehicle dwelling remain on the table: overnight parking restrictions (enacted near Boulware Park), zoning enforcement, regulation of fumes from vehicle dwellers’ generators, and many more.

Let's do the right thing for Palo Alto and reinstate Ordinance 5206.


14 people like this
Posted by HomeTowner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2017 at 9:01 pm

"Why our local tech billionaires do not help those genuinely in need? Perhaps divert some money from supporting charities in e.g. Africa, and help locals?"

Good question.

CPA could build an RV campground in the baylands using tax money residents pay on their $2 million homes, to accomodate people who don't pay any property tax at all. Now there's a suggestion full of irony!

Just as ironic is that one company can afford to lease Moffett Field as a parking lot for its fleet of private jets, yet it is out of the question for them to devote a few acres to an RV campground with at least the basic facilities of any campground, such as sanitary and waste-disposal facilities.

On the other hand, if you make Palo Alto too attractive as a mecca for RV squatters, you risk turning Palo Alto into a magnet destination for same.


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2017 at 10:59 pm

" Unintended consequences abound. It could attract more campers, it could drive campers into residential areas."

OMG!! They might even camp in front of the residences of the kindly citizens who demanded the city repeal the no-living-in-vehicles ordinance, expecting the campers would stay out of their own 'hoods. That would be an unintended (but delicious) consequence indeed. Guess who'd immediately rebesiege city hall to restore the ordinance..


24 people like this
Posted by Justme
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

You can't make poverty illegal, but you can make the survival methods of the poverty-stricken illegal. Charles Dickens wrote "The law, in it's equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges." I suspect that if anyone does a serious study of who those vehicle dwellers are and investigates their stories and reasons, many hard hearts would be softened. Of course, there is no hope for the hardest hearts. But they may be a little surprised.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael H
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Just pointing out that many people who dwell in older RVs face a major issue. While they may not be able to afford tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the lastest fanciest Motorhomes they do keep their aging RVs in decent repair some even renovating and refurbishing the old into what should be considered vintage classic Motorhomes however RV parks have decided that they want to cater to the elites in that arena and have arbitrary 10 model years old rules to long term (the most affordable route) Park/live with some even refusing short term camping to older Motorhomes. Many people could afford to pay for a space where they would have the security and convenience of "shore power", water and sewer, and a secure place to park. If not burdened with the added expense both financially and the time and energy required to figure out where to park, how to get power, where to get water, and how to dispose of waste they could put even more if that into the upkeep and renovation of their Motorhomes. There is no place that they can legitimately go so they move about consuming fuel, plotting out safe locations where they won't be bothered by criminality or harassed by the police.

Recently I read in an RV blog where the writer suggested some kind of automated parking situation. Paying for your spot via kiosk or app, keeping the price minimal, providing options to upgrade and turn on 30/50 amp shore power for additional cost, perhaps a water fill station and nearby dump station. Policed by contract with private security or local police station to ensure things were not getting out of hand with the bad apples that can creep in, while not a perfect solution there has to be a way to help those who without their RV would be homeless and left with nothing but are seen as not good enough for elitist RV resorts that are quite frankly providing amenities that the don't want or need to live their lives. The author also suggested a time limit in any particular space that would prevent nonworking units from just rotting away as negelctful dwellers take advantage of the situation


5 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2017 at 12:32 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

Apparently compassion in Palo Alto is looking the other way when people sleep in their cars (as long is it in someone else's neighborhood). I'd label that aggressively passive support for the homeless. If you want to do something for them, do it, campaign for it, whatever. But let's pretend like the current situation is a viable solution that we need to protect.


13 people like this
Posted by Tsk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2017 at 2:23 am

My husband commutes 30-60 minutes to work. Why can't these people commute? Isn't there a quieter place in another city for their RVs? The article notes that some have cars.


16 people like this
Posted by @Tsk
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 24, 2017 at 5:32 am

Many are construction workers from the central valley in the area for a couple months. Its odd how people think "I do this so why can't they?" but they rarely aren't interested in the logical answer.


42 people like this
Posted by If they are Stanford construction workers
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:45 am

If the majority of the RV dwellers on El Camino are construction workers from Stanford projects, Stanford should set up a temporary RV lot on campus.


19 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 24, 2017 at 9:27 am

Since I am originally from The Netherlands, I read a variety of Dutch newspapers, including some small local ones. Never, ever, do I read about housing problems. Why? Because country has a superb transportation system. Frequent trains and connecting busses help employees get to their jobs.

I used to travel 1 1/2 hour (train and bus) to my job, and I accepted it as part of my life. In fact, I enjoyed the reading and studying I could do on the train. It was a nice and quiet time.


36 people like this
Posted by Not a fan of irresponsible behavior
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

Society sets rules of conduct that the majority of us follow. When people decide they don't want to follow the rules, and bait government to try to enforce them, the vocal minority come out of the woodwork to support their defiant actions. I'm tired of hearing about the lack of support for the homeless in Palo Alto. I think Palo Alto has been too generous (e.g. $8,000,000 to help purchase Buena Vista) and I think others are now coming to Palo Alto looking for a free handout. Why do some people think that because others have acquired large sums of money from hard work, they are entitled to some of it for doing nothing? In general, many people are just too lazy to work and depend on the government to take care of them. There are so many places hiring right now, and they advertise it with signs in front of their businesses. And, you can be poor, but you can also be clean. When I drive along the El Camino and see all the litter that has accumulated under many of the RV's it only shows how irresponsible/defiant/ in-your-face some of these people really are. I for one have worked very hard, and sacrificed a lot to acquire what I have acquired. Yeah, call me selfish or heartless, but if you want me to support irresponsible behavior, and the shear laziness for many, I'll gladly take the title.


37 people like this
Posted by Hope they move
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2017 at 9:57 am

I drive and walk by these several times a week and can agree with the others correcting CrescentParkAnon. There are several that have tarps stretched over their roof so they cannot be in that good shape. And many do have blocks under them to level the RV. There is even one large RV that has its "Bump out" permanently extended. This same RV uses and orange traffic cone to reserve space for it for another vehicle behind

I also heartily agree with Scotty the Boot that I am not at all comfortable with this transient population living across from one of our town's high schools.

The parking on ECR is not private land and should not be allowed to be used as such


9 people like this
Posted by Downtown
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

As social security dwindles for many Americans, I wouldn't be surprised if more RVs start popping-up all over the Bay Area and beyond. We really need rethink housing developments in an affordable and sustainable way so all Americans can get basic needs met. I think RV homes will always exist so let's collaborate with experts, other neighboring communities and the county to figure out a temporary and longterm solution. To add, we also should employ stricter rules about dumping waste in public areas. I think a "station" of some sort should be created that charges a fee.


20 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:08 am

Why is that the city only enforces the no-parking regulation NORTH of Oregon Expressway? I don't see any enforcement of the rules for all the RV's parked on Park Ave, By Fry's or elsewhere in South Palo Alto. All I ever hears is the whining that we can't force them out, it wouldn't be fare. But as soon as there are RV's in the "rich" part of town the city starts enforcing the rules.

If the city is going to enforce the rules, be fair about it, enforce them equally, everywhere in the city.

/marc


28 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:49 am

It's probably worth pointing out that PAMC 10.44.020 prohibits overnight parking of vehicles more than 7 feet high or 20 feet long in residential, school or park areas. If this were enforced there'd be no RVs on either side of El Camino between Embarcadero and Park Blvd.


5 people like this
Posted by conor mcgregor
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 24, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Of course housing is an issue, lack of space, outdated roadways, not enough safe areas for RV users to take advantage of and possibly setup a pay for parking space program. The surrounding cities with the hoards of brilliant genius "tech" geared entrepreneurs surely can figure out some parking spaces which could safely accommodate human beings who do deserve compassion. Many of us are fortunate to have what we have, myself included. A little compassion goes a long way, and the cities can profit from it, however little that might be.


13 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm

What we need is more places for people to park, not to make it
terrible for those who are there now. Along El Camino is actually
a good place for them to park and it doesn't bother anyone.

Some of the RVs are an eyesore, but you drive by they just look
like cars and trucks parked in a line.

Having gone to PALY in the 70's I can only remember a few times,
like once, maybe twice where I ever went over to that side of El
Camino in a day anyway.

I notice this a lot over in Mountain View, but they stay out of people's
way and are quiet. I think it would be a good idea for the city or
county to do a study and see what is what. It is a good idea to have
places for people to park RVs if they are visiting or working temporarily.

This is not an alternative everyone will choose. If they were lining
University Ave. or California St. I'd see a problem that required action
but I have not yet really heard any reason to see this as a threat .

I don't think there is any way for the City to make money from this,
but it is just something that if it can be done and done safely without
a big bother it should be. If things get out of hand in a "real" way
the enforce the laws


19 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 24, 2017 at 7:25 pm

" The surrounding cities with the hoards of surely can figure out some parking spaces which could safely accommodate human beings who do deserve compassion."

Fat chance. Those "brilliant genius "tech" geared entrepreneurs" are much too focused on creating software that spies on their users to undertake socially useful pursuits, even if they were capable of doing so.


25 people like this
Posted by If they're patients/ families of Stanford Med
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm

If the rv's are housing long-term Stanford patients and their families who can't afford local hotels/ motels, let Stanford step up, show some compassion and provide for reasonable housing for them. Since some have said they're Stanford students who want to keep their dogs and avoid paying Stanford's high board costs, let STANFORD address this problem, too.

And it's long past time for Stanford to start housing its own construction workers on its own tax-exempt properties instead of shifting the bill to us.

I'm a bit tired of Stanford ignoring the problems its growth has created. Time for THEM to stop expanding and dealing with their current crop of problems first.

The rv's have been there for a long time; time for Stanford to do something.


Like this comment
Posted by Would Never Ever Choose to Live in Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:14 pm

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Tsk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:20 pm

Can anyone tell me why they cannot live in another city? What job is so specialized that they HAVE to live in Palo Alto? If they work for Stanford, they can move to another state and work at a similar institution, with the cost of living so low that they can live in a building instead of an RV. How about the midwest? They are just being selfish and stubborn.

Thumbs up to the posting of "Not a fan of irresponsible behavior".


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm

There was a sign on a motorhome a while back that I will never forget, it read : I was not homeless until the cops stole my motorhome." Think about it.

On another note...


I remember Palo Alto City council chambers erupting in cheers when they passed the $5,000,000,000 Stanford expsnsion plan . Who is cheering now?


23 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Palo Alto leaders will probably just wring their hands, perhaps propose some new rules that are "complaint based" and then move on. There will be no real enforcement. This is an old pattern, with the purpose of seeming to respond to a real social issue, without really doing anything. Palo Alto is a magnet for the homeless, because there are services available, and there is no real determination to end it. We have all seen this movie before.


20 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 25, 2017 at 2:08 am

The main problem is pouring sewage into the storm drains. While not all of those living along El Camino in their RVs may do so, those that do create a nasty public nuisance which also smells really bad. Until the council changed the ordinance last fall that stretch of El Camino had become a daily parking lot for Stanford employees as Stanford has made it more and more expensive for their employees to park near their jobs on campus. Once the council council decided to make it legal to live on the streets it's amazing how fast the word went out and that stretch filled up with permanent vehicle campers.


Like this comment
Posted by Van Life
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 25, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Funny how the city (and Stanford) only respond to complaints when the issue hits the regional TV news. For Stanford, the issue would of course be the rapes and sexual assaults. For PA, it was the ridiculously long costly Cal Ave "revitalization" where the city ignored all the complaints about delays. the trees. the backed up traffic, the cost and cost over-runs etc. etc.?


9 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:03 pm

It's amazing... Underbuild housing and psuh out cheap housing for 30 or 40 years, and people get desperate enough for affordable shelter to live in a RV.

Perhaps the real answer would be for them to park (but only for 3 days at a time) in front of the NIMBY / residentialists' houses. It would be a good reminder that your "I got mine, screw you" real estate appreciation comes with some huge costs for society as a whole.


17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2017 at 10:03 pm

"Perhaps the real answer would be for them to park (but only for 3 days at a time) in front of the NIMBY /residentialists' houses."

Classic NIMBY. Pray it happens to someone else so it doesn't happen to you.


6 people like this
Posted by Sir Brian Connors
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 25, 2017 at 11:00 pm

NEWS UPDATE, billionaire ceo taking up residency in old rusty rv, prompting new trend in "urban camping". Palo Alto elitists praise the ceo , having a stroke of brilliance and fashion forward approach.


11 people like this
Posted by Camp Palo Alto
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2017 at 7:32 am

Many thanks to Jonathan Brown for his excellent summary on how we got here.

The problem was not solved by dropping 5206, in reality the problem of RV camping has grown exponentially.

This was another case of a FEW very LOUD participants in process overrunning sound government. It happens again and again in Palo Alto. Call it squeaky wheel syndrome.


4 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 26, 2017 at 9:48 am

here is a link to "dump stations for RVs in California:

Web Link

one can see that the dump stations are quite far away, on the coast and near/in Gilroy


18 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 26, 2017 at 11:09 am


We desperately need safe bike lanes on El Camino. Why aren't these lanes, used for long-term parking now, converted into safe protected colored bike lanes for the public. -- like the ones in San Francisco.


17 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 26, 2017 at 11:10 am

We desperately need safe bike lanes on El Camino. Why aren't these lanes, used for long-term parking now, converted into safe protected colored bike lanes for the public. -- like the ones in San Francisco.


8 people like this
Posted by No More Bike Lanes
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

We don't need more bike lanes. And the SF bike lanes are disasters because they keep adding them so quickly the mapping and GPS systems can't keep up and people are getting $250 tickets for following their online directions!

Do you want to kill all retail on El Camino by putting in 2 bike lanes like PA will kill downtown by putting in 2 bike lanes on University, one of the few direct roads to 101? And/or maybe 101 should be all bike lanes, too?


29 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2017 at 11:28 am

Trailer Villa on E. Bayshore in RWC (between Marsh Rd & Seaport/Woodside) has full hook up spots for RVs. Besides rental spaces (daily/weekly/monthly), they have a dump station ($25 fee). No excuses - it's close and it's fully sanitary.


23 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Marie: We ought to have high-quality bike thoroughfares criss-crossing the city (and linking to bike routes in other cities throughout the region). But that does not mean that every road should have bike lanes. Some roads should be auto-only, and other routes should be open to bikes but not cars. If we have good bike paths that parallel El Camino, we don't need more bike lanes there. Separating bikes and cars is generally a good idea.


21 people like this
Posted by Any excuse
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

So many of you have accused Stanford of a role here, just assuming that the RVs are being used by Stanford patients, Stanford construction workers, Stanford employees, Stanford grad students, etc. You have no proof but that doesn't stop some of you from using ANY EXCUSE to bash Stanford. The good that the University does for Palo Alto and the surrounding areas is immense, and greatly improves the quality of life for Palo Altans(think music, art, open space like the Dish, sports, students doing community service, underwriting soccer fields and schools for the community, and so much more. I am so sick of any issue becoming a chance to bask Stanford, which has nationally recognized commute programs and has been the model of reducing impact caused by commuters and housing.


Like this comment
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2017 at 8:14 pm

[Post removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Stanford
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 26, 2017 at 8:41 pm

@Online Name

> The only thing Stanford has brought is more elitists.

I take exception to that very broad swipe. The PhD students I know who go there are the farthest thing from elite -- they are nerdy and love their work and are learning to backpack and things like that. They are generally struggling to make ends meet, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The commonality is just that they are really smart. And that is okay.

One of the nicest, most humble, hard-working kids I know will be starting as an undergrad soon. She is a terrific person, not remotely an elitist.

Please stay away from these broad, unhelpful generalities.


Like this comment
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2017 at 9:04 pm

[Post removed.]


29 people like this
Posted by scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 26, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I just assumed they were overzealous Stanford football fans lining up for a good tailgate spot! Apparently not. Just the sanitation issues alone should disqualify people from parking there. That ain't right.


8 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Trailers should be parked in trailer parks, not on the city streets. Many reasons including safely, amenities, sanitation, and not occupying the streets.

While there are parks in nearby communities, we will never be able to see another park open here in Palo Alto. The reason is the state and city ordinance that makes it extremely disadvantageous to open such a park. The city's treatment of the Jisser family in the Buena Vista case stands as a warning.

Also, can you imagine the furor of neighbors to any such a possible new trailer park?




4 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Actually, we wouldn't have a problem if they built the next trailer park in YOUR neighborhood, but thanks for your comment.


2 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Maybe off the subject but it occurs to me we need a latter day Dorothea Lang to document the poverty and crowding like she did during the 1929-1941 depression years. Perhaps that would bring human face to all this


4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2017 at 6:54 am

How can all that is described above and in other new stories be going on and Palo Alto claim to be a well-managed city? Seems to me it is time for CC and Staff to focus less on development and more on growing city problems.

Next election: vote for practical problem solvers.


10 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2017 at 9:52 am

Bike lanes? The easy solution is just put parking meters there with a 4 hour time limit. If they want to stay, at least the city can get some revenue.

In any case, the RV issue is a result from a residentialist mindset, no doubt. Prop 13 and NIMBYism has its downsides.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 28, 2017 at 9:58 am

@M2, you can't blame Nimbyism and Prop 13 for Standford's humongous growth or Stanford's tax-exempt status.


4 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

If you want to cast blame we can blame Stanford for Palo Alto's existence. Otherwise we would all be living among drunks in Mayfield. In orchards.


4 people like this
Posted by Charlie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

@Online Name

You really are a broken record. Everything is Stanford's fault with you. Have you gone RV to RV to talk to the people and find out why they are there? If not, you can't assume this is Stanford's problem and not a Palo Alto/bay area problem.


12 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2017 at 11:57 am

"we can blame Stanford for Palo Alto's existence. Otherwise we would all be living among drunks in Mayfield. In orchards."

Wrong. Palo Alto would very likely be north Mayfield, with a look and feel like San Mateo or Burlingame. Nice.


2 people like this
Posted by chemong
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Crescent Park Dad mentions rates at Trailer Villa.

500 to 600 per week

Most people who live along el camino real can't afford that.


10 people like this
Posted by Fred Smith
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Fred Smith is a registered user.

I'm an RV dweller, lived in Palo Alto 40 years, retired software engineer with 30 years experience, love to work again but Silicon Valley does discriminate against older people as illegal as that may be, most of those 40 years were spent being housed in Palo Alto, unhoused the last 7 years, personally I'd rather stay near Stanford as I have leukemia (CLL) and am seeing a Stanford cancer doctor, so far I don't need chemo but it's coming probably, my doctor tries to cheer me up by saying you know some people die with this rather than from this. To say the least it's interesting to know you'll check out soon.

I'd rather not live in an RV but it seems my only choice if I'm to stay near Stanford medical care.

By the way, if anyone has a software engineering job please let me know.


14 people like this
Posted by No more spot
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2017 at 2:54 pm

I would say two years ago, I was able to find a parking space along El Camino Real at Town and Country Center if I were there before 8:30 am. As time goes by, I had to be there before 7:30 am, at this point, I cannot find a parking place when I get there at 7:00 am.

The stretch from PAMF to Churchill is about 0.8 miles. The RV has to move from the north side to the south side or vice versa to be considered as not an abandoned vehicle.

Another factor is that with 40 to 50 RVs stationing over there, each RV takes up about 1.5 nominal sedan parking spaces, the RVs take up 60 to 75 sedan parking spaces that daily commuters and people need to park there for a short period of time cannot do that anymore. It will cost each of the 60 to 75 daily commuters ~$200 each month to park some place else. These RV owners are not only violating the parking law, but also are very selfish and not considering their impact on other citizens in town.

You may argue that these RV owners are desperate in need of help. If you read through the web page and the comments, you will notice not all of them are desperate as claimed. Some of them are well calculated and want to station there. Did the city and social workers ever find out how many of them are in desperate conditions


6 people like this
Posted by Joy
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 28, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Disparate conditions?

Living on El Camino in an RV? Sounds like pure joy to me!!!!


5 people like this
Posted by Minimum Action
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2017 at 11:49 pm

In all fairness, this is the minimum items the city should do right away:

1. Enforce the 72 hours parking rule.

2. Designate spaces for 2 hours parking zone, 3 hours parking zone and all day parking zone.

3. Designate date and hours for street cleaning every month. All vehicles should be clear from the stretch of El Camino Real between University Avenue and Stanford Avenue.


5 people like this
Posted by Gee
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 28, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Funny thing Joy, if you don't particularly care for living in an RV on El Camino you could always try living somewhere else more affordable. Last time I checked there were, like, I don't know....multitudes of places where it's much more affordable.


4 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2017 at 9:22 am

"Wrong. Palo Alto would very likely be north Mayfield, with a look and feel like San Mateo or Burlingame. Nice."

We don't know that. No Stanford, no HP. Would Shockley have established his company here that led the traitorous eight over to found Fairchild (which led to Intel, venture capital, etc.)? Remains to be seen. After all, Shockley was a visiting prof at Stanford, which made it more attractive.

There's also a chance, since a lot of technology was being developed at Caltech at the time that Silicon Valley would actually have been in Southern California without Stanford.

If you worked in tech (or were a service provider to tech, like accounting or legal) and now are complaining about Stanford, you need to think twice about how you view Stanford and why you're here.

Or maybe you'd be a curmudgeon in Pasadena somewhere.

I'm no Stanford apologist (I have ties to Cal, so Go Bears!), but I'm not blind to what Stanford has contributed to the Bay Area.


6 people like this
Posted by zap
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:47 pm

aaannnnnd here we go again with the "Reagan closed the mental hospitals" lie.

Reagan was in office. Gov Brown and the legislature before him passed the law...which went into effect after Brown skipped town.

The law which was an expansion of JFK's push to deinstitutionalize mentally ill people.


15 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Palo Alto would've existed without Stanford, just like any other Peninsula town, it just would be different, probably less wealthy, more rural, but with a much higher quality of life vis-a-vis tranquility, pollution, noise and attitude.

It is a mistake to perceive Stanford only as a great university, which it definitely is. Stanford is a big corporation that also owns a university.


6 people like this
Posted by zap
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Has everyone forgotten that football is about 2 months away? Stanford is allowed to kick out all the cars parked along EL Camino. I'm sure that will shake things up long before the city does anything.


5 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm

@zap - I don't think Stanford kicks out the cars. I believe it's the city that puts up the no parking signs during football season. Right now there are temporary no parking signs on El Camino and Churchill for the soccer match this weekend.

The city of Palo Alto could just as easily put up No Parking signs on El Camino. They set up parking on the east side of El Camino for Paly parking and established No Parking 4pm-6pm, to ensure that office workers did not take those spots during the school year. The city could put up No Parking signs, similar to those in Crescent Park which eliminate parking between say 1am and 5am.


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 29, 2017 at 3:34 pm

" Would Shockley have established his company here that led the traitorous eight over to found Fairchild (which led to Intel, venture capital, etc.)? Remains to be seen. After all, Shockley was a visiting prof at Stanford, which made it more attractive."

Fairchild existed prior to Shockley's arrival here. So did venture capital (google Draper). Shockley was a full professor.

"There's also a chance, since a lot of technology was being developed at Caltech at the time that Silicon Valley would actually have been in Southern California without Stanford."

More likely Dallas, where Texas Instruments was selling silicon transistors while others were speculating if silicon was even a feasibility. Same outfit where Jack Kilby conceived and demonstrated the integrated circuit concurrently with Robert Noyce.


"If you worked in tech (or were a service provider to tech, like accounting or legal) and now are complaining about Stanford, you need to think twice about how you view Stanford and why you're here."

I did/do work in tech. Real tech, not adware/spyware. But who but you said I was complaining about Stanford? Not me, for sure.


"Or maybe you'd be a curmudgeon in Pasadena somewhere."

I'd be a curmudgeon wherever I find material. Thanks for doing your part.


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2017 at 4:57 pm

"I did/do work in tech. Real tech, not adware/spyware. But who but you said I was complaining about Stanford? Not me, for sure."

My apologies - probably conflated your comments with the others who typically Stanford-bash without thinking. Probably Online Name.

My point is that who knows what Palo Alto would have looked like w/o Stanford. Probably not Palo Alto.


3 people like this
Posted by Keep focus on problem
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 29, 2017 at 8:05 pm

Let us just focus on the RV problem:

There are about 8 street block distance for 0.8 mile. So allow 2 block length for 2 hours day time parking, 2 block length for 4 hours day parking, 2 block length for day time parking and 2 block length for 24 hour parking to accommodate the desperate RV dweller with 72 hours limitation.

There are about 50 RVs now, we have the design parameter for RV camping area either at one location or multiple locations for 50 RVs. City should go ahead and search spaces for this.

For those charity organizations care about the desperate people, or for any one that can help, pitch in to help.

Keep it simple and take action. There is not much point talking about Stanford or HP etc...


8 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2017 at 10:15 am

". There is not much point talking about Stanford or HP etc..."

Come on. This is the internet. We go off on wild tangents.


16 people like this
Posted by Do what you planned to do
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2017 at 6:09 am

It is obvious that there are still a few RVs have not moved for more than a week. The City should do as planned to remove these RVs. There is no point to plan to enforce the 72 hours rule and not following through with it. The street is so dirty, a clean up is badly needed.


13 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Notice how the CPA has caved on this? Those RVs are still there. There was never any intention to force a solution. Our CC just hits the replay button on the stale old movie script...and we get the same old non-solution.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm

"Our CC just hits the replay button on the stale old movie script...and we get the same old non-solution."

It's not the city council being AWOL here; it's code enforcement staff. The city council has no authority over city staff. It can only negotiate with the city manager if it wants something done.


21 people like this
Posted by eliminate parking?
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2017 at 7:38 pm

It might make sense to eliminate parking on ECR in Palo Alto. This would help alleviate some of the traffic woes.


6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2017 at 8:08 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@eliminate parking - You don't need to eliminate it, just set a two hour limit along ECR and make overnight parking permit only for the entire city.


7 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2017 at 10:23 am

@ Curmudgeon:

>It's not the city council being AWOL here; it's code enforcement staff. The city council has no authority over city staff. It can only negotiate with the city manager if it wants something done.

Give me a break! Who hires (and fires) the city manager? If our city council wanted to get rid of the RVs on El Camino, they would be gone already.


6 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

Has anyone tried to enter/exit the Target in Mountain View (on Showers Drive)? The view of the street on the Latham entrance/exit is entirely impeded by large RVs lined up and down that street. You cannot safely turn onto Latham (or see the sidewalk when trying to the parking lot). In addition, there are waste removal pumping trucks that service these vehicles -- but the vehicles don't move. The truck goes up and down the street but blocks most of the road.

I really hope that we don't see the same thing in Palo Alto on streets.

If there is a "need" for such vehicles at Stanford University, then Stanford can certainly open a parking lot for them.


9 people like this
Posted by No Kidding
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2017 at 11:53 am

From the front of PAMF to the cross section traffic light, the RV configuration is returning to the 6/23/2017. The first broken RV has not moved one manometer since 6/23/2017. What is the city government doing, there are tons of adjectives to describe it, inept is the best description.


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2017 at 10:43 pm

"Give me a break! Who hires (and fires) the city manager? If our city council wanted to get rid of the RVs on El Camino, they would be gone already."

The CC is in the city manager's thrall, so whatever the CM doesn't care to get done doesn't get done.


13 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Now the RV's are back to the same levels as before the "crackdown" and they have now spread into the south of Oregon Expwy area, especially along Acacia Ave. I counted 42 large RV's between PAMF and Stanford Ave and then another 8 on Acacia. This doesn't even count all the other vehicles that are associated with the RV's or smaller vans being used for dwellings.

What happened to enforcement? Does the City expect citizens to report each vehicle individually??? Are they using their "system" for reporting violators of the 72 hr rule as justification for ignoring the en masse violations? We citizens are not paid to enforce the law--do your jobs, City Staff and police. How bad does it need to get?

The acceptance of the current "solution" is atrocious in a City of "means". This is not a humane way to deal with homelessness. Maybe a vacant lot or two should be rented by the City and turned into a proper RV park with utilities, water, and sewage clean-out facilities. The Vehicle Dwellers would pay on a sliding scale for the privilege of parking here and become part of the community instead of living on the streets. The police or Social Services need to determine how many people are actually Stanford affiliated so the City can insist that Stanford accommodate those folks. Certainly the University has land, utilities, and sewer lines.


6 people like this
Posted by Little effect
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2017 at 10:42 pm

I have just emailed the PA city council at "city.council@cityofpaloalto.org" letting them know that this "crackdown" has been largely ineffective. I drive by this area multiple times a week and today their were 31 RVs/trailers between PAMF and Stanford avenue. I would encourage anyone else who would like to see the RVs move on to do the same.


4 people like this
Posted by weather
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:06 pm

It seems to me that a number of the RVs (which lack air conditioning) seem to leave ECR during heat waves but return as soon as the weather becomes more reasonable. I see no evidence of a city "crackdown."


4 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2017 at 12:41 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Little effect - it is getting worse, there are now more appearing on El Camino south of Page Mill as well. There is only one solution that will work: overnight parking by permit only for the entire city.


6 people like this
Posted by AreVeeHavingFunYet
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2017 at 4:04 am

These RV's are not bothering anyone. Nor are they blocking streets in Mountain View.
There is a really ugly trend of the oddly conservative people who want government off
their backs, but instead stick in on everyone else's backs so badly that they will lie or
make up things. I was just down at Latham St. in MV the other day, and yes there are
a few RV's parked there, but there are cars packed on streets all over this area, everywhere.
People who have no logical consistency except that they want to boss and oppress others
are people who do not respect the law, even thought they use it to slam others.

I have occasionally counted the RVs on El Camino as I drive through traffic ... so when they
say almost 50 ... it really means about 30.

Others have accused the RV'ers of dumping sewage on the streets ... ridiculous, or storing
their RV's on the street propped up on car jacks.

Others have said they are bothering PALY students ... from the other side of the street.
Most of these parts of El Camino are almost industrial.

The level of RV's in the area are a concern, a concern that should be monitored, but they
are not hurting anyone and unless there is a specific problem why not just leave them alone?

Drive down Crescent Ave or Lincoln from Channing to University and tell me about streets
being blocked. All these huge expensive houses cannot seem to afford to put in garages
and driveways to house their cars, so they leave them on one of the narrowest streets in
Palo Alto making it almost impossible to drive through. Now, that is a problem, and it is
not because of RV's.

Unless the city is ready to create a place for people to park their RVs it should just leave
them alone and stop catering to a elite group that just wants to bully weak people that
are doing the best they can for their amusement.


3 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2017 at 2:37 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

"Most of these parts of El Camino are almost industrial."

Who is being dishonest here?


4 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

@zap

Reagan indeed was the one to defund the mental hospitals. First as govonor of California, then again as President.


2 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2017 at 9:17 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Rick - You fundamentally misunderstand the history of mental hospitals, forced institutionalization was going away regardless, and die tp pressure from the left and right.

Under Govs Knight and Brown, the mental hospital population fell from 37,000 in 2957 to 22,000 in 1967. In Reagan's first year, he cut mental hospital funding by 10%. Yes, 10%. That's what people blaming the current crisis on, a 10% cut in spending in 1967. Spending was restored in 1969. The mental hospital population fell from 22,000 to 7,000 Under Reagan.

What really happened to mental hospitals? People saw they were hellish places and wanted them closed. Patients rights bills passed in California and Federally that made it impossible or very difficult to commit people against their will. The ACLU sued to stop forced institutionalization and won.

Seriously, do you want to force the homeless into mental hospitals to get them off the street? Sounds more like a cruel conservative policy than a liberal policy.


4 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2017 at 7:05 am

MyOpinion is a registered user.

Interesting that you won't find RV's parked in affluent areas of Atherton, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and residential Palo Alto. It would not be tolerated for one day, never mind 72 hours. Yet residents and businesses in high density areas situated near these encampments just need to deal with it.

@AreVeeHavingFunYet of 'Crescent Park' says "I was just down at Latham St. in MV the other day, and yes there area few RV's parked there, but there are cars packed on streets all over this area..." Wow, what a comment. Amazing that you leave your leafy enclave to drive through Mountain View. Maybe you should open your driveway to a few RV dwellers. And on a side note we DID count the RV's along El Camino in PA, got up to 35 and stopped counting.


2 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

@john_alderman,

I worked at the Agnews Developmental Center after it was turned into. Sun Microsystems campus. I acquainted myself with the history and visited the sad cemetery a couple of blocks away. Disengenious of you to shift the discussion from the unhoused mentally ill to the unhoused in general. To answer your question, yes, we need to bring back involuntary commitment for those too deranged to take care of themselves or who are a danger to others. That doesn't mean going back to Agnews style warehousing.


1 person likes this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Rick - A large portion (arguable a large majority) of homeless are mentally ill, i was only referring to them, not trying to imply anything else about what you said. We already have involuntary commitment for for those too deranged to take care of themselves or who are a danger to others. That standard is so high as to be useless in addressing the larger problem of mentally ill homeless who aren't dangerous, but are unable to function in society. If you want to change that standard, you will get as much or more resistance on the left as from the right.


5 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

@john_alderman

I fear you are right with your last comment. SF certainly has fierce advocates for letting the deranged wander as they please.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 11:29 pm

"Seriously, do you want to force the homeless into mental hospitals to get them off the street? Sounds more like a cruel conservative policy than a liberal policy."

The fiscal conservative policy is to dump them on the streets while ensuring they don't trespass into one's own neighborhood. It's much cheaper than providing humane housing and treatment.


3 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2017 at 1:24 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Curm - And the liberal policy is to dump them on the streets, and then feel proud of yourself because you are courageous enough to ignore them.


Like this comment
Posted by MV resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 18, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Palo Alto refuses to build meaningful amounts of additional housing (esp higher density housing), yet wishes to vacate the homeless? One isn't truly a liberal or a progressive if they are only so when it is convenient.

Next Palo Alto will complain about the traffic of the workers coming to work in their city, and after that, freeway traffic, and after that, it will complain about the hardship expanding Caltrains and HSR will bring.

This isn't meant to be insulting, but something has to give. Either build more innovative housing, expand transit, or better yet, do both.


7 people like this
Posted by AreVeeHavingFunYet
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2017 at 10:44 am

Lots of really disingenuous talk about Atherton and Menlo Park ... where they are mostly upscale residential. The RVs in Palo Alto and Mountain View are not talking about parking in residential areas in front of anyone's house. And yes, a lot of Palo Alto El Camino looks industrial. So the oft-repeated nonsense about having homeless, or car campers, or RVs or anything else over to your house and if you refuse you are a hypocrite is itself far more dishonest and hypocritical.

On the comment of housing in the Bay Area, no, there is not enough. But no matter how much housing we have it is not the homeless who will be renting or buying there - that is a different problem. I think there needs to some acknowledgement that working and poor or even mentally unstable people have a right to live too. The US is incredibly wealthy, but as Thomas Piketty has written about, and apparently gone over most Americans' heads, the gap is widening because of the very structure of capitalism and our economy.

Naturally in our system we end up stomping on a lot of people that have no place in our economy. We refuse to come to terms with population growth, or people having children, and our country gets more unequal and we end up with masses of uneducated people that do not understand the basics of good citizenship. Yet, we cannot take the vote away from them legally. It forces American society into a dysfunctional delusion.

The solution to this is not to secretly genocide poor people or throw away working people when they are no longer profitable. We cannot run a country based on a balance sheet ... except that seems like an expedient mindless solution to a lot of the very rich around Silicon Valley. What kind of people are we producing? More Trump voters.

Until there is a good solution, or a pressing problem, the RVs should be left alone, or real intelligent solutions should be floated and designed. We have space in the Baylands. Go out there any day and it is mostly vacant. That is fine, but there is a lot of space where RVs could park. What costs more ... to have RVs in the City and cite a few that cause a problem or to maintain a facility in Palo Alto where RVs can park. Right now, I think the RVs parking are manageable, but I grant it will get worse over time. Solve the problem, don't just beat people up for trying to survive in what has become a very hard and inhospitable place to live.

And don't tell me I am a hypocrite because I do not want someone parking in from of mine or anyone else's house.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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