News

Committee backs 'safe parking' program for vehicle dwellers

New program would offer overnight parking, case management for those without homes

Facing a growing population of vehicle dwellers, a Palo Alto City Council committee signaled support Tuesday for a new program that would lean on religious institutions to provide overnight parking for those without homes.

The new program, which was first proposed in June by council members Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou, took a step forward on Tuesday night, when the City Council's Policy and Services Committee threw its unanimous support behind it. The committee also agreed, however, that given the potential backlash from residents who live near the participating churches, the city should tread cautiously and only keep the program in place for three months.

The three committee members, Chairwoman Liz Kniss, Councilman Greg Tanaka and Kou, all supported jumpstarting the program, which would be similar to ones recently rolled out in East Palo Alto and Mountain View. Much like in those cities, Palo Alto's program would partner participants in the program with case management services that would help them find permanent housing.

The idea for a "safe parking" program was sparked by a recent growth in the number of recreational vehicles parking on local thoroughfares and neighborhood streets, according to the memo from DuBois and Kou.

"The City of Palo Alto must address this matter from a health and safety standpoint," the memo states. "The effort must be made to find immediate short- and long-term solutions. The ultimate goal is to provide assistance to people to get them back on the path to stable housing."

The program approved by the committee would allow a local religious institution to provide space for up to four vehicles on their lots. The memo also recommended considering a more ambitious program that would allow five or more vehicles on private properties. It also suggested looking at two city-owned sites at 2000 Geng Road, near the Baylands, and at 1237 San Antonio Road, the former Los Altos Water Treatment Plant, as potential sites for sheltering vehicle dwellers. Those programs are currently being evaluated and will return to the council at a future date.

The "safe parking" program, meanwhile, could be implemented as soon as early next year. If approved by the full council, vehicles with permits would be able to park at participating congregations between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. There would be "quiet hours" between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. during which time music and other noise that exceeds the city's noise ordinance would be prohibited. Providers would be required to provide participants with access to restrooms that include a toilet and a sink (showers are highly recommended but not required).

While the committee generally supported the rules drafted by staff, members urged both more caution and greater outreach to residents. Rather than making this an 18-month pilot program, the committee agreed to make it a three-month program, along the lines of what Mountain View approved. And rather than informing only immediate neighbors about an application for a "safe parking" program, as proposed by staff, the committee recommended a broader notification requirement to avoid surprising the neighborhood.

In formulating its recommendation, the committee was mindful of the city's first brush with a church-based program in 2012. At that time, only one church stepped up to participate and the program was scuttled under pressure from area residents.

The Tuesday meeting offered some signs that the city may have better luck this time around. Representatives from two local congregations offered to work with the city on providing parking for vehicle dwellers on their lots. David Bergen, a member of Congregation Etz Chayim, a synagogue in south Palo Alto on Alma Street, told the committee that the congregation's board of directors at Etz Chayim is interested in receiving a proposal from the city about the new program.

"We have a very large parking lot and it is empty at night and there are people in need," Bergen said.

David Haley, a pastor at Palo Alto Church of Christ, a non-denominational congregation on Middlefield Road, said his church would also like to participate in the new program. He lauded the approach championed by the nonprofit Move Mountain View, which combines a provision of parking spots with case management.

"This isn't just a place to park. This is an access point to resources," Haley said. "What I love is that this is something that brings congregations together, instead of each of us just doing our own thing."

Haley acknowledged, however, that the city will likely hear from residents with different views, including those who oppose having vehicle dwellers close their homes. He argued that there would be a low impact on a neighborhood of having four cars parking at a church lot overnight.

The committee largely agreed, though its members emphasized the need to get residents on board. Tanaka alluded to the "outcry" over the council's prior attempt and suggested that the new program allow the city to quickly revoke permits of congregations where the program is causing unwanted impacts.

"If this program is successful, there probably won't be much rejection," Tanaka said. "But to head off people's objections, it's important to make it as palatable as possible."

To underscore the severity of the problem, the committee supported moving ahead with an "urgency ordinance" to start the program, obviating the need for a review from the Planning and Transportation Commission. The law is slated to go to the council for approval in January and the program could take effect within 45 days of adoption.

While the urgency ordinance is in place, the Planning and Transportation Commission would move ahead with evaluating a longer-term program. The committee supported this two-pronged approach, despite Tanaka's request that both parts of the safe-parking program move forward through the ordinary zoning process, with review by the planning commission before the council's approval.

Tanaka suggested that sending the plan to the planning commission will give residents another venue to offer input on the program. Kniss and Kou both said they prefer to go with the staff recommendation for expediency.

"I'm sure the faith-based organizations will do their outreach as well, and communicate with their neighbors," Kou said.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 7:07 am

What would the insurance situation be, particularly if a restroom is left open and unlocked all night long?

What would happen if any of the vehicles that arrived in the evening was unable to be driven away the following morning?

Would PAPD have a list of addresses of the sites being used and do occasional checks to make sure things appear peaceful overnight?

Would vehicles have to be registered with an oversight before using these safe parking zones?

Would there be any charges attached to provision of these facilities? Many of the roadworthy vehicles are occupied by people with jobs who could pay a small fee.

Would the vehicles be registered, licensed and insured?

What oversight would there be from the City, the Police, etc.?


30 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2019 at 7:31 am

Mountain View is building non-stop and meanwhile banning RVs from its streets. That's going to have a spill-over effect into Palo Alto. We need safe parking for RVs, but we don't need to become the RV magnet of the peninsula. Along with this safe parking program, Palo Alto needs to ban RV parking on city streets. Otherwise the RVs parked on the streets will simply be replaced by new ones and nothing useful will have been accomplished.


38 people like this
Posted by RV's lining streets = Development
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

Would PA tolerate someone building block long trailers containing rooms that people could live in, putting them along ECR or any street for that matter? Would that be tolerated or would it be removed?

That is EXACTLY what is going on with these lines of RV's.
The RV owners have become "Developers" and have put up their residential development on the street, for free, and without sewer hookups btw.
Behold, the new way "Developers" have learned how to skirt the PA building permit process!!

Let's call it the Curbton neighborhood of Palo Alto.


7 people like this
Posted by SJW
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:23 am

SJW is a registered user.

I wonder if Stanford would like to participate in a similar program. They have the land the resources and certainly the employees that live in many of the car currently parked on El Camino. I think this is a wonderful plan on part of the City and I hope that all neighborhood contribute to its success both in terms of land use and support.


17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:29 am

>> Congregation Etz Chayim, a synagogue in south Palo Alto on Alma Street, told the committee that the congregation's board of directors at Etz Chayim is interested in receiving a proposal from the city about the new program.

>> "We have a very large parking lot and it is empty at night and there are people in need," Bergen said.

@ Etz Chayim: I don't think you understand what this is about. RVs park for days, weeks, months at a time. Some can barely move. Etz Chayim does have a large parking lot. Good luck during the next Bar Mitzvah when you are parking somewhere in Greenmeadow while the RVs are occupying the parking lot.


18 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Jonathan Brown is a registered user.

This proposal completely misses the mark and solves nothing. Unless the program includes a ban on vehicle dwelling elsewhere in the city, residential neighborhoods will continue to degrade. Looking at the memo's "Standards or Operation" reveals requirements for quiet hours, "safe, cleanly, and orderly premises," connecting dwellers with case management services, restrooms to process human waste, revocation proceedings. None of these "standards" is being imposed now on the hundreds of vehicles parked on our city streets. The memo calls for public notice and strict requirements on where people can park. No such notice was given to neighbors who are impacted daily by vehicle dwellers who are choosing to park wherever they wish without any repercussions from the City.

The memo aspires to "operate in ways that provide dignity to those served and provide appropriate consideration for neighboring properties." Let's please start operating that way now in our response to the vehicle dwelling that is occurring today, not just relative to this future "limited" program.


22 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2019 at 1:54 pm

I think that this is a wonderful idea!!

I am going to purchase a fleet of 12 RVs ($3000 - $5000 each on craigslist). I will rent them out for $750 - $1200 per month and park them at any of the "safe parking" sites. Within a year I will have paid them all off and have positive cash flow.

/marc


17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Posted by Marc, a resident of Midtown

>> I am going to purchase a fleet of 12 RVs ($3000 - $5000 each on craigslist). I will rent them out for $750 - $1200 per month and park them at any of the "safe parking" sites.

Rumor had it that this is exactly what was going on along Crisanto Ave between Rengstorff and Escuela. A third of a mile of solid RVs, many immovable, bumper to bumper. I don't know if the rumor was ever confirmed for the public record, but, the RVs were there for all to see across from Rengstorff Park. Some of it is still there on Google Street View. It is considerably cleaned up over what it was a couple of years ago. I think it is the an awful approach to urban housing.


26 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Sounds unworkable and WILL be a magnet for more vehicles and persons from wherever. Impractical. A risk for passing persons, who may not expect a “temporary camp” of unsupervised persons who have a variety of issues, obviously a range of situations, but undeniably an attractive nuisance and a risk to neighborhood children. Palo Alto is willing to host ad hoc halfway houses? NOT representing the interests of city residents and workers.


11 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2019 at 5:29 pm

This isn't even good for the individuals involved, who should be encouraged to get off the streets and into treatment programs.


20 people like this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2019 at 9:34 pm

I have lived here for 26 years and have seen a constant new flow of homeless people to our town ever since the Downtown Streets Team and Opportunity Center have expanded their services several years ago.

They keep saying they are in the business of ending homelessness, however if they end homelessness than their money making business disappears as well. DST and the OC have a vested interest in ensuring that homelessness is perpetuated and that homeless people move to Palo Alto to increase their numbers.

Millions, billions, of California's tax dollars have been spent on ending homelessness but the problem is bigger than ever. Somebody is making a lot of money off of the existence of the homeless.

The elected officials come up with one brain dead idea after another to address the problem, this parking program is another one.

You want to end homelessness, build housing. If you don't want anymore people living in Palo Alto, then move the jobs to the valley. Any other attempt to solve the problem is a charade meant to deceive and con the people, those who are living in their vehicles as well as fixed residents.


9 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2019 at 10:32 pm

@ Peter - building housing for substance abusers and the mentally ill, which is 70% of the homeless, does nothing. Costs lots of money though, and keeps us paying for the problem, which isn't solved. Nope. And many people in RVs are not homeless, but are working here because they get paid more here, but they really live somewhere else. Check the weekly interviews w them. So for them, it is temporary, and they are serving this community, and making and saving money to support their families, and it's their choice.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2019 at 8:07 am

I don't believe this will do one iota to help with homelessness.

However, there are other types of people who live in RVs at least part of each week.

Many of them are working here, even high tech contract workers, for part of the week. They own their RVs and use them for a couple of nights then return back to Silicon Sierra or wherever. It is cheaper than a couple of nights in a hotel and gives them more flexibility.

Many of them are construction workers. Construction is rampant all over the Valley. Whether it is homes, offices, remodels, etc. the people who build are here during the week but live in Central Valley or wherever.

Many of them are people who have lived here for many years and then lost their homes due to rent increases, or health issues. It is cheaper to live in a vehicle and get a gym membership for hygiene than find a studio apartment to rent.

We should be very careful about lumping them together.


8 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:01 am

Does anyone have any hard facts to backup the rhetoric on either side of the discussion?

What is the legality of doing an inventory of every vehicle that appears to be lived in, do a check on the ownership of the vehicle and question the person(s) living in them to determine their employment status and verify it?

This would give hard facts on whether they are unemployed, employed but can't afford permanent housing, employed having permanent housing too far away to commute, etc.

So the guy that lives in 3 vans (plus his motorcycles) parked behind Equnox that works as a crossing guard, is he employed but can't afford housing, or can afford housing but living in his 3 vans is cheaper?

/marc


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:32 am

Posted by Peter, a resident of Crescent Park

>> Millions, billions, of California's tax dollars have been spent on ending homelessness but the problem is bigger than ever.

California is a big state, so anything can add up to millions or billions. Not much, percentage-wise, is being spent on "ending homelessness." However, if you want to see money being thrown away, look to the criminal justice system, the city police, county sheriffs dept, city and county jails, and courts, which expend billions cycling the mentally ill people through under the absurd system we have today in this country. Web Link

>> Somebody is making a lot of money off of the existence of the homeless.

There are some people who are labeled as "homeless advocates" who seem to be advocating homelessness rather than advocating -for- the homeless. Unfortunately, the media seem to gravitate to these folks, rather than pay attention to the parts of the system that are working. A lot of low-income housing organizations are doing their business pretty much below the radar-- which is probably all to the good. AFAIK, the "advocates" are making mostly psychic rewards; the job doesn't seem to pay very well. In the meantime, a couple of local bay area non-profits support 30,000 housing units. I don't know what the total is for the bay area or the state.

>> You want to end homelessness, build housing.

There is no panacea, no single approach that addresses the entire problem, but, building housing is definitely a part of the picture.

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Community Center, 10 hours ago

>> @ Peter - building housing for substance abusers and the mentally ill, which is 70% of the homeless, does nothing.

Except that the research says otherwise. Decent housing appears to be an independent variable which mentally ill people respond to very positively as an "input" within their environment:

e.g. Web Link

In addition to housing, there are three other components: we need more facilities, more "mental hospital beds", to meet demand for acute care. As it is now, people frequently get tossed out on the street after 72 hours whether or not they are stable. Sadly, jail is frequently the most stable housing for the mentally ill. We also need more community mental health to provide ongoing treatment for those with persistent mental illness. The law needs to be strengthened to coerce those who require it to continue treatment. This isn't a simple problem that sound bites will address. Complex problems need sustained, carefully conceived and managed long-term programs.


2 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:46 am

eileen is a registered user.

I agree with Marc, can we please get an inventory of who exactly is living in all these RV's? We have that for all the residents that live in homes, right? That way we at least have a record of who our vehicle neighbors are. The person above who said these people are just tempory is not quite correct. Yes, maybe some move on after the job ends or after they have saved enough money, but some other RV will just move into their spot. Is Palo Alto going to be one big RV park until the housing situation (all over the Valley) is fixed? This might be a very, very, very long time! I do believe we need to build more afordable apartments and homes here in Palo Alto but NONE of that will help the majority of the RV dwellers. Mental health services and treatment programs should be encouraged and if not excepted then the RV dwellers should move on. I think the workers that have jobs here in Palo Alto can park in safe parking areas in the city not on city streets. Our city council should be able to come up with a better solution. Put your heads together and stop suggesting a bandaid approach to this problem otherwise you are only making the situation worse!


30 people like this
Posted by Considering a Move to Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2019 at 10:01 am

If I purchase an RV and park it in one of the participating church's lots can my kids enroll in Palo Alto's schools? Does anyone know which church parking lot gives me access to the highest rated schools? Please advise. Thx.


2 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 14, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Jonathan Brown is a registered user.

@Marc, re "an inventory of every vehicle that appears to be lived in"
If these people are counted for the Census, then we ought to be able to take the sort of inventory you're requesting.


18 people like this
Posted by Bring on the Palo Alto free RV Parks!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 14, 2019 at 2:08 pm

Be carefull not to make the accommodations too cushy or you will continue to draw additional RV/vehicle dwellers from the entire region to Palo Alto. You should see how many RVs are parked along the freeways, frontage roads, etc. in Oakland, SF, SJ.

It feels right to provide for our own who have fallen down on their luck, but I would expect that very few of these individuals are originally from the area. Also some proportion of the individuals are not down on their luck, instead they choose to live in RVs for other reasons.

What is the problem we are trying to solve here? Getting all the RVs off the streets at night? Wouldn't parking enforcement accomplish the same thing?


3 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2019 at 5:16 pm

How about: if you can prove that you lived in Palo Alto for at least 5 years before you moved into your vehicle we will help you find a safe place to park at night.

That means that you had to have owned or rented within the city limits. And be able to prove it.

Not that you drove up from LA last week. Not that you own in Gilroy but don't like the commute.

If not, the existing laws will be enforced and your vehicle will be towed off the street.

/marc


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Let's move all these RVs from college terrace and el camino to the where the city councillors live. Lets line THEIR streets with the RVs.

Oh. Forgot. THEIR streets have signs that prevent more than 2 hours of parking without a permit.
Gah.

The City councillors likely are holding their jobs so they move all the things they don't want on their streets to other streets, while they make their streets 2 hours only parking - OR eliminate all car traffic.

Lets move them to their streets.


2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2019 at 7:47 pm

and they are going to encourage this AFTER the census is done? Smart thinking palo alto. Lets ensure we get an UNDERestimate of the population for Palo Alto and Santa Clara County to ensure we don't get enough government funding... THEN encourage RVs to move into Palo alto (not where the city councillors live obviously because they have street signs to ensure that doesn't happen on their streets)... and there we have it.

Over populated schools, and hospitals and parks and facilities that are underfunded thanks to this happening AFTER the census.

Well done. Smart thinking as always.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 14, 2019 at 8:40 pm

@Citizen and @Anon,

How many homeless people lived in Palo Alto in 1979?
How many homeless people lived in the Bay Area in 1979?
How many homeless people lived in California in 1979?

Not many.

That was 12 years after Reagan kicked all of the mentally ill out of the institutions.

In 1981 Reagan killed all federal funding for the mentally ill.

Even still 7 years later in 1989 there were not many homeless and those who were were solely the skid row drunks/druggies and the severely mentally ill.

From 1950 to 1970 housing outpaced the population resulting in housing being one of least costly expenses of a household.
From 1970 to 1980 housing shrunk, yet a person working 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job could still pay for a studio apartment and all other necessities.
From 1980 to 1990, housing regressed to the point that a minimum wage job could no longer pay the rent.
This trend has continued unabated for the last 27 years to the point that a person making 3 times the minimum wage cannot afford a studio apartment in the central bay area.

In fact housing was so cheap in the early 1970s a janitor working for a local school could afford to purchase a 2 bedroom bungalow in Palo Alto and pay it off in 10 years without making any major sacrifices. Now teachers and even college professors cannot afford to buy a house. This cost is representative of the lack of affordability of housing at all levels.

It was only after housing became too expensive for those working at the lowest couple of rungs on the latter did we see a dramatic increase in homelessness from 1989 into the late 90s.

The fact is there are twice as many homeless as what is counted. These homeless people are grown adults who are couch surfing, living in garages and other substandard living structures on private properties.

The people living in the warehouse, the Ghost Ship, in Oakland that caught on fire which resulted in many deaths is one example of what people are resorting to live in. These people are technically homeless because they cannot afford standard living quarters.

Palo Alto like virtually all other cities have razed independent boarding housing and failed to make up the difference with other housing. People who once paid the weekly fee to have a place to live are no longer provided one.

It used to be that at worst college students could rent a room in a house for a couple hundred dollars a month. Rooms now go for at least $1,000 and often time have been removed from the long term market in favor of the short term rental provided by Airbnb.

Hence why Airbnb is partnering with San Jose State to provide housing to students who have no other options.
Web Link

Senior citizens is another group that is being hit hard, many who are ending up on the street for the first time in their 60, 70 and 80 year lives.
Web Link


The fact is if California had the housing supply per capita that it had in
1969 than 70 percent of the homeless would disappear from the streets.

Most professionally studied estimates have California lacking 2 to 3 million housing units to meet current demand.

Web Link

Rather than address the housing problem by building new homes, apartments and boarding houses, Palo Alto wants to play games like many other cities which don't want to give up the tax revenue from the excessive number of jobs verses housing units.
Web Link

There are is only one solution to the homeless problem and that is to build more housing everywhere and force some of the major companies to move a portion of their workforce to areas where their workers are commuting from; like Tracy, Manteca, Stockton, Modesto, Dublin, Livermore etc...

This would have the bonus affect of reducing green house emissions from cars. But will you see the City of Palo Alto give up the jobs for a greener earth, no. But you will see the City of Palo Alto deny its citizens the use of natural gas in their homes. Whatever carbon footprint Palo Alto mitigates from the environment by eliminating natural gas in homes Palo Alto will actually increase green house emissions by forcing 70,000 cars to commute to Palo Alto everyday for the jobs that Palo Alto refuses to give up to the communities where these people live.

Any other solutions than building housing put forward are nothing more than shell games meant to deceive and appease the people into falsely believing that the policy makers are doing something good for the poor and the community at large.


8 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2019 at 11:56 pm

While walking, I have seen people in RV's empty their sewage into the storm drains in residential areas. I have also seen them empty their tanks into the drains in the parking lots of Walmart and Target late at night.
Is this a violation, and should it be reported?
Where would these RV's empty their sewage if they are parked in various church parking lots?
-----------------------------------------
Additionally, how would local residents feel safe not knowing if nearby transient dwellers have possible criminal records?


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2019 at 6:09 pm

Posted by Peter, a resident of Crescent Park

>> Even still 7 years later in 1989 there were not many homeless and those who were were solely the skid row drunks/druggies and the severely mentally ill.

I don't understand what point you are making regarding the mentally ill, but, just so you know, people don't choose to be mentally ill.

Also, you might want to check your timeline. In 1988-1989, prior to the earthquake, there was a vast series of homeless encampments under I-280 between Dogpatch and Mission Creaek/Bay. There were homeless people living all over SF from the Tenderloin through Golden Gate Park. Quite a few of those homeless people were mentally ill. (Now, that area is pretty much occupied by construction-related activities and equipment supporting all the development south of Mission Bay.)

Not all homeless people are homeless for the same reason, and, some homeless people have multiple reasons for being homeless, including, coincidentally, mental illness, substance abuse, and, lack of income from employment.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2019 at 10:24 am

The never ending battle of the homeless, with no real solutions. NOBODY knows how to effectively deal with the homeless. If they did, there wouldn't be such a problem. Churches handle it better than most.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2019 at 10:35 am

Posted by Nick, a resident of another community

>> The never ending battle of the homeless, with no real solutions. NOBODY knows how to effectively deal with the homeless. If they did, there wouldn't be such a problem.

Actually, we do know how to deal with it. We "just" need to reverse the steps we took as we decided to descend into this hell.

Because homelessness is not due to a single cause, the the homeless are not homogeneous, the "solution" is not a single solution, but, a complex web of inter-related efforts.


5 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2019 at 1:05 pm

It is a complex web of inter-related efforts. But if anyone really knew how to EFFECTIVELY deal with the homeless problem, it wouldn't be the problem it is. The churches do better than most, but they're accused of enabling if they're too helpful.

You have to offer a hand up, not a hand out. And so many people don't want help. No one is homeless by choice. They're homeless by circumstances. But a lot of them remain homeless by choice. There is a difference, and there isn't a darned thing anyone can do for someone that doesn't want help. Sadly, a lot of them have given up hope, and they don't to be bothered. Nor do they want to WORK.


9 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2019 at 7:52 am

I'll ask it again, does anyone have hard data on whether the people living in vehicles are "homeless", i.e. not employed, no money, having mental, social, emotional or physical problems?

Or are they employed choosing to live in vehicles for other reasons?

It would be better for all involved to have hard data and not lump everyone into "homeless" and whine about the problem.

/marc


4 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2019 at 5:12 pm

If you're living out of your car, you're HOMELESS. You can be employed, unemployed, disabled, retired, etc. You have to have a little bit of money to keep yourself going in a car. Gas, registration, insurance, etc. The first thing I think of is not enough money to have a roof over your head, but not as poor as the homeless people on the streets. But you're definitely homeless if you're living out of your car.

They're NOT choosing their car over a mortgage in Palo Alto or Atherton, if that's what you're asking. That's ridiculous. You should know this. It's COMMON SENSE.

The homeless are lumped together. No roof over your head is no roof over your head, however you want to slice it. Get real.


5 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2019 at 7:02 pm

@Nick:

I don't think all people living in a vehicle are "homeless". There is a big difference between someone that is living in a vehicle so they don't have a 2 hour commute from their home and someone that can't afford a home anywhere.

There have been stories in the past in the Palo Alto Weekly of people that lived in their vehicles to save money. Doesn't mean they couldn't afford a home somewhere, just that they couldn't afford to live in Palo Alto.

There is no "right" to live in any specific location. You live where you can afford to live.

As far as "Common Sense", I'd like to see proof. I don't understand why there can't be a real audit of all the vehicles being lived in.

I don't know if you remember Victor Frost who was supposedly "homeless" and panhandled in front of Whole Foods. Even when they gave him a residence he lived in his car.

I also have a problem with the apparent "wet foot/dry foot" policy that as soon as someone drives into Palo Alto and parks on the street, we are going to give them a safe place to live. Why?

/marc


3 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2019 at 8:27 pm

"More people living out of their car" (NBC News)

"People living out of their cars or campers tend to be more well-off than the homeless on the street. They usually have jobs or disability checks that enable them to maintain an old camper but do not allow them to afford rent."

Once again, if someone is living out of their car, camper or RV - they're HOMELESS. They don't rent or own elsewhere. If they tell you this, they're lying. They're too embarrassed to tell you the truth. It doesn't make any sense to rent or own somewhere, and stay in your car M-F because it's "closer to work." You're paying rent or mortgage for NOTHING. They're staying in their car "closer to work" because they don't have a home.

Staying in your car "closer to work" if you're paying rent or mortgage elsewhere might save you a little gas money, but you're wasting money on rent or mortgage. You're not living there.

THESE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE HOMES ELSEWHERE. THEY'RE TELLING YOU WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO HERE SO THEY WON'T GET HARRASSED.

My wife and I have been volunteering helping people in need (including the homeless) through our church for over thirty years. My wife has been volunteering for over 40 years - since she was a teenager in the 70s.

We've heard "all the stories." Please wise up.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Posted by Nick, a resident of another community

>> Once again, if someone is living out of their car, camper or RV - they're HOMELESS. They don't rent or own elsewhere. If they tell you this, they're lying. They're too embarrassed to tell you the truth.

Since I know of (have hard info about) instance of someone who lives here in their RV Sun-Thu nights, and, back in the Central Valley Fri-Sat, I don't agree with your generalization. And, I'm unclear why you are unclear about the reason: a daily commute from/to the CV town is just too far for them, but, they have a place they call home. So, no, they (a couple) are not HOMELESS, but, if they didn't keep their jobs here, then they would be jobless. It seems pretty simple to me; I'm not sure why you are denying that it happens. These CV towns are only ~ an hour and a half away-- right now. Tomorrow AM? A different story.

>> My wife and I have been volunteering helping people in need (including the homeless) through our church for over thirty years. My wife has been volunteering for over 40 years - since she was a teenager in the 70s.

I've also seen a real tragedy that may have been caused by the homelessness caused by economic reasons. I certainly wouldn't deny that "true" homelessness happens.

That is why I think for us to understand what kinds of programs make sense, we need better numbers on what the different causes are for people living in RVs, part-time or full-time. Someone temporarily living in an RV because the weekday commute is too long is very different from someone who lives here who lost their job and are trying to hang on by a thread.


6 people like this
Posted by Posted by Considering a Move to Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Does anyone know if these will be set up in time to enroll kids for the 2020 school year? Or can we just park the RV near the desired school and enroll immediately per McKinney-Vento Act?


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Legends Pizza Co. replaces Palo Alto Pizza Co.
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 2,623 views

Premarital and Couples: 10 Tips for the Holidays
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,353 views

What is a "ton" of carbon dioxide anyway?
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 2,249 views

Do city officials ever consider giving taxpayers a break?
By Diana Diamond | 18 comments | 1,160 views

HIIT
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 976 views

 

The holidays are here!

From live music to a visit with Santa, here's a look at some local holiday activities to help you get into the spirit of the season.

VIEW