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Original post made
by ?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 15, 2017
Good question. This was the topic of conversation among a few of us at lunch yesterday.
Absurd housing prices forcing local jobholders into homelessness is a part of life in Palo Alto. Why shouldn't visitors see this first hand?
@resident: We cannot house the entire nation. Why not offer them to stay in your home or on your driveway? If not, that makes you a hypocrite.
Palo Alto's car camping ban was repealed in 2014 after Los Angeles lost their federal suit.
Maybe they could be housed in some kind of back house or in law unit? I'm sure there would be no complaints about that... perhaps if someone chose to rent out their rooms to these people there would be no complaints about that either, certainly not in regards to parking...
"I thought vehicle dwelling was outlawed."
You thought wrong.
Well, it was outlawed for a short period of time. If you want change you need to change the law.
I have seen young children sitting with parents on the benches under the street lamps working on what appears to be homework at night in front of the campers. I wonder if the conditions in those campers are appropriate for children.
"I have seen young children sitting with parents on the benches under the street lamps working on what appears to be homework at night in front of the campers."
Whaaaat?! Doing homework with 45 MPH traffic whizzing a few feet away??? Hasn't somebody told them about public libraries?
Why not support high density housing projects in a region facing the worst housing supply shortage in the country? Maybe if it didn't cost over $2000 a month to rent a studio in the bay area you wouldn't have families living on the street in campers.
We care more about the impressions made upon "international visitors" than the plight of the poor in our community.
As Donald Trump would say, "Sad".
The are way too many jobs in Palo Alto. How can we get the jobs to move along?
There are more people living on the streets in the shadow of the Millenium Tower than living on the streets of Palo Alto. High density housing (Tower is RM-600) does not look like a solution. Yes it's expensive to live in the Millenium Towers but the situation would be identical if all the current tenants lived there rent-free (except the waiting list would be longer).
Any well-traveled international visitor would be shocked if we did not have people living on the streets. Shows that we are not a gated community and we are not a police state. Of course some Palo Altans (and Mountain Viewians) would say these are only token-homeless and we should be accommodating several thousand more. The supply is inexhaustible.
Vehicle dwelling on El Camino is just one aspect. For further edification I might suggest a peaceful stroll around downtown at 3am some morning. Not permitted to go into details here, but occupancy of doorways, parking structures and other readily accessible space is fairly common. I don't know what kind of community services outreach we have here, or whether these individuals would rather just be left alone. Apparently only the real nuisance cases are subject to law enforcement, judging from the very few instances of California Penal Code 555 or 647 in the police blotter (trespass, lodging in a public place).
El Camino is under the jurisdiction of the State and they don't care.
My understanding is that mobile homes in parks like BV have appropriate waste disposal. Is that the case for RVs on ECR? I'm wondering, in particular, how they void their septic systems and whether there can be the potential for disease spread due to unsanitary conditions.
Silicon Valley Problems: There are just too many jobs in my city!
If you want to live somewhere where there's not so much pressure to grow from demand for jobs and housing then why not move somewhere else where that pressure doesn't exist rather than fight a losing and self-centered battle in the heart of Silicon Valley to keep jobs and people out of your city?
"My understanding is that mobile homes in parks like BV have appropriate waste disposal."
Nope. It overflows all the time. Nothing worse that a human sewage spill. Also, the residents won't initiate the clean up, waiting for a public health entity to take responsibility for the clean up and cost. So it lingers for days before the neighbors complaints result in action.
The BV trailers are not designed for full time use. They are mostly just recreational vehicles. The BV trailers are a health hazard. Unfortunately it is cruel and uncompassionate to point that out.
The campers on the road are the direct result of Palo Alto corporate greed and incompetence on the part of Palo Alto CC. Neither of these entities cares about the health of the citizens nor the impact of their wrong headed decisions on our lowest income residents. I would also look to the Maybell neighborhood which pushed out hundreds of potential low income residents in favor of 16 luxury homes. @GreenAcres posts lay out the logic of greed and NIMBY that produce the conditions leading to transient living.
The constant complaint that it's the home owners fault for standing in the way of higher density housing in Palo Alto is short sighted at best. You keep adding jobs here, and guess what, housing will continue to go up. That's the case where we already have high density housing in our cities. More and more apartments do not necessarily keep rents stable when the area keeps adding more and more jobs.
So when companies keep moving here and expanding, housing costs goes up. Local home owners do not have a say in this. More jobs here, higher cost of living.
Guess who gets to profit from all the new high density housing? Developers, investors, the very rich who can invest in these buildings. The incoming new young, smart, and hard working people end up paying rent and not owning. They might get a very nice salary, but a large chunk of it goes right back into the investors' pockets by means of RENT.
Theres a lot of space in the San Joaquin Valley - ~ 1 1/2 hours away, and cheaper prices. I suggest the campers check that out.
@followthemoney, no need to be rich to invest in real estate. That's what REITs are for. You too can own a piece of Millenium Tower (price is sinking) or Stanford Shopping Center (Simon Property Group, today's quote $179/share). Risks and returns in real estate are about the same as any other investment, but taxes get more complicated. Personally I prefer the gold rush tactic of investing in the suppliers of picks and shovels. Might also be profitable to own a piece of a bank, on the Willie Sutton theory.
@Musical -- you are missing my point which is the renters don't get the benefits of home ownership and equity over time. Sure you can invest in REITs, but when a large chunk of your salary must go to rent, there's not much left over to invest in anything!
If the jobs go to other areas where housing costs are more reasonable, then the workers can reap much better benefits.
Building more dense apartments here will not change that equation.
let's blame it on the casti expansion!!!
@followthemoney, yes I should have acknowledged your point that "the incoming new young, smart, and hard working people end up paying rent and not owning." I just didn't have a comment about it yet. I do agree with you. I will note that many jobs here have indeed migrated "to other areas where housing costs are more reasonable." My first employers (in manufacturing and in fruit canning) moved away in the 1970s. Our world-class semiconductor fabs went away later on. Maybe our software companies are next (oddly I figured they would already have this problem solved through tele-presence).
Meanwhile on-topic on El Camino, I wonder whether any of the campers are banking money they would otherwise spend on rent. More likely all of them are there because due to other expenses or lack of steady employment they can't afford any rent at all. Then again I've known a few guys who were comfortably paying-off distant homes (e.g. Los Banos) and just spent their week-nights here to avoid the ridiculous commute.
Half the RVs seem to be on blocks, suggesting that they are parked on ECR for the long-term. Presumably they move during the 5 or so days of the year when Stanford clears the portion of ECR abutting Stanford property for football games. I do think the CC needs to address the de facto community of vehicularly housed individuals on ECR.
Why should international visitors be shielded from the truth about our city? Does anyone remember Hoovervilles from the Great Depression? I find it ironic that people who must "camp out" are doing so in full view of Hoover Tower. I'd like to see a consciousness-raising gallery exhibition on the theme of social justice right here in Palo Alto, or at Stanford. Not on the subject of Somalia, nor Central America--though these far flung places are worthy of our empathetic attention. But when one repeatedly reads accounts of those who've been evicted--who say they've wept more in one year than in an entire lifetime--one wonders what they did to deserve such inhumane treatment. Maybe they've done everything correctly: paid their rent on time, paid their taxes. The government's "hands are tied," while the realtors and home owners gleefully rake in their greedy profits. And now a letter-writer's sense of offended aesthetics is being brought to our attention! What a cruel place this is. Hasn't Palo Alto attracted enough negative attention from the teen train suicides?
@Anonymous - you know you are responding to a comment posted 2 months ago, right?
Heaven forbid visitors to our country or residents of our country see that we have problems such as homelessness?
Why do we care more what visitors see than the actual people suffering on the street? The kids doing their homework on el Camino? The parents begging for money WITH their children standing by them (hate that ploy). We have a huge problem, no matter what side of it you're on, the least of the problem is what international visitors think of us, IMO.
Heaven forbid that ever-growing Stanford provide low-cost or free housing for its construction workers and/or the patients and their families getting long-term care.
Heaven forbid that our City Council demand that before allowing them to continue expanding.
-- Half the RVs seem to be on blocks
I drive on El Camino at various times of day and night all the time and I've
not seen a single RV on blocks at all. I am not certain there are no RVs on blocks,
but I am certain it is not half of them.
I also doubt very much that people are emptying raw sewage on the streets of
Palo Alto. Again, maybe it happened once or twice, or maybe it didn't, but it is
not a regular occurrence.
It's like the claim that homeless people are going to the bathroom all over the
city, or committing crimes and violence. It's just a lie or hyperbolic exaggeration.
It's a complicated issue, and hard enough to think about and discuss with the
correct facts, we don't need vicious, hateful lies. I know these people can be a
real pain, but you know, I get a lot more annoyance from our newer Palo Alto
residents. Like the other day I was a little slow in parking in one of the undersized
parking spaces along California Ave. and some nice Palo Altan sat behind me on
his horn yelling obscenities that could be heard a block away. Everyone on the
block stopped and turned to see what the emergency was.
The people that are homeless or car camping or living in their RVs try not to create
any problems, and in most cases they do. This town is really turning into an
over-crowded agglomeration or rude, belligerent, over-entitled jerks, or maybe it
just seems that way because the ones that we have work so hard to be so loud
in their arrogance.
Another data point: I overheard a Stanford grad student explain that he prefers to live in an RV on ECR rather than in the subsidized on-campus housing because the price is much lower and he doesn't need to lie and claim his dog is an "emotional support animal" to have it live with him. I think it would be very helpful if the Weekly would interview the various ECR RV residents to learn who they are and why they choose to live where the do and to publish a balanced story on what they find.
We have a major event coming up on 1 July at the stadium - a major soccer match which will be a sell-out crowd. When major sports events take place at SU is there a policy in place for people who are habitating on the street in RV's? I don't think they are homeless - I think they are in a construction job that has a limited time schedule.
The city should consider clearing a section on the east side of Bayshore so the workers can put their RV's in a consolidated area and not at SU. They could include electrical hook-ups - what ever is typically at a RV park.
There has to be some land that the city owns which could be converted to this use. Then we could get some credits for low income housing. Having that situation across from a high school is not good city management.
At least one of the vehicles is an AirBNB - $300 a night.
Wow such snibby holier than thou attitudes... Sure hope no ones wife takes the house or the bank takes the house or you have hardship ever because every single one of you that cant stand the site of an rv will become or already are a hypocrite when something happens to you.
Close the all girls school. Close the music school. Get rid of the RVs. Ban pot in the city. Decalre certain days as " meatless". How about dealing with the real problems? Ridiculous pension obligations. Crumbling infrastructure. A second decade working on a comp plan. And how about the bike bridge over 101.
I'm new to the area. I just assumed the RV's were students that could not afford the dorms. So is it a mix or students and the working poor?
I contacted PA city code enforcement officer, Brian Reynolds, at email@example.com regarding the RV's on El Camino, hope he can help get rid of this Gypsy caravan stuff.
So you're saying El Camino would be a good place for me to set up my camper!? :D
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