News

Bill that would provide overnight parking for homeless community college students pushed to next legislative session

Senate Appropriations Committee adopts new exemptions for AB 302

Homeless community college students who were hoping for the passage of a state bill to allow them to sleep in their cars overnight on campus will have to wait at least another year.

Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, who authored the legislation, has delayed the bill's vote in response to amendments he said watered down its purpose. As a result, he's making AB 302 a two-year bill, meaning it won't be voted on during this legislative session.

AB 302 has drawn much attention and anticipation throughout California as community college students have emerged as the latest faces of the state's housing crisis. Statewide, nearly 1 in 5 community college students are either homeless or do not have a stable place to live, according to a recent survey conducted by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations decided on Friday to delay the implementation of the bill until July 1, 2021, and that the legislation would not apply to any community college within 250 feet of an elementary school. Also, community colleges that provide one or more of three housing services to homeless students — emergency housing grants, hotel vouchers or rapid rehousing referral services — would be exempt.

"The recent amendments to dramatically weaken the opt-out provisions and delay implementation an additional 15 months weaken the bill to the point that it fails to address the reality that our students are facing today," Berman said in a statement.

Berman sharply criticized the exemption for community colleges within 250 feet of elementary schools, noting that he is not aware of any elementary students who attend school between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. when safe lots programs typically operate.

"Homeless students are not pedophiles that need to be kept away from children. They are men and women — many of them barely adults themselves — who are trying to improve their lives by obtaining a better education," Berman said. "They should be celebrated, not stigmatized."

He said he decided to make AB 302 a two-year bill plan and will work this fall with the governor's office to "identify ways to more urgently alleviate the struggles that our community college students are facing every day, in a way that treats them with the dignity and respect they deserve."

The California Faculty Association, California School Employees Association, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and Student Senate for California Community Colleges have formally supported AB 302.

Many community colleges and districts, as well as the Community College League of California and Association of California Community College Administrators, have formally come out against it, however. Opponents criticize the legislation as a one-size-fits-all, temporary fix that will take resources away from long-term solutions, and have raised questions about cost and liability.

An analysis from the Senate Appropriations Committee notes the potential fiscal impact of the bill for community colleges, including $350,000 in one-time funds to conduct and release a student homelessness survey and $68,000 to hire a person to comply with the bill's reporting requirements and manage the survey.

The bill could also carry "unknown but significant reimbursable state mandated costs, potentially in the tens of millions of dollars in Proposition 98 General Fund each year, for community college districts to grant overnight access to their parking facilities and comply with the bill's requirements."

Preliminarily, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District has estimated that implementation of the bill could cost its campuses about $830,000 each per year for additional security, custodial support, fencing, signage and, if a parking lot is not available close to bathrooms, portable toilets.

A 2018 survey found that 11% of Foothill College students who responded are homeless and 41% are housing insecure.

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Comments

13 people like this
Posted by Answers not rules
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Until this country comes to terms with universal healthcare so that our homeless populations are not a mix of people who just lost their housing and the mentally ill who never got proper healthcare and can't stay housed, any effort like this is going to suffer from a stigma problem. It could hurt general community college enrollment.

Community colleges already have enough challenges. How about funding for disability resources? For educational facilities that need rehabilitation? For being able to offer courses with less than the max enrollment so that more times can be offered and students can actually finish on time?

I'm not suggesting we don't do anything about homelessness, I'm suggesting that formalizing sleeping on CC campuses is a ridiculous way to go about it.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2019 at 5:29 pm

>> I'm not suggesting we don't do anything about homelessness, I'm suggesting that formalizing sleeping on CC campuses is a ridiculous way to go about it.

Homelessness due to dire economic circumstances, or, mental illness, are both serious issues. This CC parking lot proposal was a wrongheaded and irrational way to address a serious problem. Don't "delay" the bill. It is a bad idea. Drop the idea and move on.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 3, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Agree that the bill should be dropped entirely. The Community Colleges have budget for a specific purpose. And aging buildings further compromise the budgets - note DeAnza has to shut down it's theatre due to earthquake standards. It's garage has to be rebuilt for same reason. Each entity has a purpose so let that purpose be the subject of funding. Address homelessness in a different budget issue.


Like this comment
Posted by RV Dweller
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2019 at 5:59 pm

Let's move ahead with this plan. Looking forward to taking a couple of electives & walking to class from home.


7 people like this
Posted by Shawn
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 3, 2019 at 6:17 pm

"A 2018 survey found that 11% of Foothill College students who responded are homeless and 41% are housing insecure."

How many of these students have fallen for the 'you'll only be successful if you get a college education?' trap? How many are digging themselves deeper into debt with loans trying to obtain unless degrees? Maybe these students would be better off if they focused on getting a job and having stable housing rather than spending their money on tuition. Yes I know Foothill isn't all that expensive but these kids need to get a clue and consider putting off college a few years until they can afford it without taking out student loans.

The military is always hiring and they provide tuition assistance while you serve....but they do have a zero tolerance towards drugs and crime so it isn't for everyone.


17 people like this
Posted by Good Let It Die
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2019 at 8:12 pm

This was a stupid idea.

There are a thousand reasons why it was ill conceived, unworkable, and horrible for the community colleges that are cash strapped anyway.

It is the duty of community colleges to educate, not to manage a parking lot of homeless kids.

Marc Berman needs to listen to his constituents and not dream up outlandish ideas that cause more problems than they solve.

If Marc Berman wants another term in the legislature, he needs to become more grounded and listen.




16 people like this
Posted by Good Let It Die
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2019 at 8:22 pm

@ RV Dweller

Of course you would want everyone in an RV to park at a community college and have the public pay for:

* Parking Lots
* Parking Lot lighting
* Bathrooms
* Shower facilities
* Laundry
* Police protection
* Public dump stations
* Janitorial service for lot
* Trash collection
* Power
* Water
* WIFI

When I was in college I scraped to get housing and food and education. If you say that you need none of this as we will give you a free parking lot for your RV and ALL of your needs met, we will have a ton of "students" taking 1 credit and abusing the campuses.

It is a stupid idea. Vote in a bond to build student housing for community colleges. If you win the vote, great. But do not saddle the struggling community colleges with more stupid, and might I add EXTREMELY STUPID, idea of housing students in cars on the parking lot.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2019 at 7:13 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

This bill is symptomatic of the similar problem of RV's on ECR. Our legislators/city fathers are attempting to solve a problem that pushes the budgets of other institutions which are not in the RV business. Attempts here to use other people's/organizations budget funding to solve a problem not of their making or responsibility. The city/state needs to provide locations for RV's which do not impinge on every one else's right of way and budgets. That includes the bathrooms.

If SU has workers in RV's then they need to provide a space on campus off of ECR for their workers. If large businesses have workers in RV's then they need to allocate a location on their property for the RV's.

Comment from RV person above says it all - use other peoples money and space. Noted at Walmart sign above that says Hiring in Process. Person outside door - young man panhandling for money. A lot of people here are not connecting the dots.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tim Buck II
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2019 at 8:28 pm

"He said he decided to make AB 302 a two-year bill plan and will work this fall with the governor's office to "identify ways to more urgently alleviate the struggles that our community college students are facing every day, in a way that treats them with the dignity and respect they deserve."

Plus, next year is an election year, right? Got to be a coincidence.


2 people like this
Posted by HA2
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:10 am

This is so typical of California politics about housing. There's a huge problem... but every single solution gets voted down as not good enough for one reason or another.

Look up above at the commenters who said "yes, homeless students is bad... but it should be addressed with a different budget. Or a housing bond. Or something else." And if there's ever a bill that does those things, people - often the same people - find reasons to argue against those, too. So we get a million proposed solutions, each of which is debated and discarded.

There is no perfect solution. There's just a million small steps, and we should take many of them, including this one.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:42 am

Posted by HA2, a resident of Mountain View

>> So we get a million proposed solutions, each of which is debated and discarded.

>> There is no perfect solution. There's just a million small steps, and we should take many of them, including this one.

So, your reasoning is that because we have a complex problem that requires multiple steps, we should start taking bad steps just because they are proposed steps?

No thanks. Let's skip the -known bad- steps and look at other proposed steps.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:38 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The majority of students at Community colleges are typically just graduated from high school and are trying to get in their mandatory requirements for an AA degree so they can transfer to a 4 year college. A majority are not yet 21 years of age. To suggest that students who have not yet reached their majority age are sleeping in parking lots is an invitation to disaster. Typically they live at home where they have adult support and their own bedroom. Typically the parents make sure the kids are taken care of. And if they are going to a 4 year school they are living in a dorm.
It is not right to make a community college legally responsible for underage students who are living in the parking lot. That is OVERREACH. And it is taking advantage of the budget funding the school has to reappoint how it is spent. The legal issues attendant on that idea are formidable.


2 people like this
Posted by Time For The Wealthy To Step Up...
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 7, 2019 at 1:33 pm

If the United States had FIXED living income for all American citizens (over 18) including universal healthcare, we wouldn't be having these problems.

If a person cannot live on $75K-$80K per year, there is something MATERIALISTICALLY wrong with them.

The wealthy don't need all their money and this includes the corporate types as well as professional athletes.

To make $30M per year shooting hoops or throwing a baseball is absurd given the poverty in America. And the same goes for those in the $350K+ per annum salary brackets.

AOC will someday put an end to this nonsense & American life priorities will hopefully get balanced.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2019 at 10:18 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

An opinion piece appeared in the papers today concerning this topic. It made it more state involved because the community colleges addressed the issues here as a group - big financial and legal problem. Then there was a 'one-off" example of a single person's point of view to plead his issues. He of course was over 21 years of age - in his majority. And all of his compatriots are over 21 years of age - in their majorities. Always a one-off example of a person in dire straights.

The article pointed out the huge funding required to support a legal situation of this type of which the majority of people are just graduated from high school, are under 21 years of age, and not very experienced yet in dealing with all of the predicaments they would encounter in the night hours. A huge burden both financially and legally on the CC's which are not in their portfolio to address.
Where to put people who are in their majority, presumably in a part time job, and going to school. Yes that is a problem. But the CC's are not paid to fund that problem.


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