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Residents fight church's plan to host safe-parking program for homeless

Original post made on Jul 29, 2022

More than two dozen residents near the First Congregational Church are protesting a proposal by the Louis Road institution to allow overnight parking for homeless individuals at the back of its parking lot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 29, 2022, 3:14 PM

Comments (37)

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 29, 2022 at 4:39 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Kerrie Phillips
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 29, 2022 at 5:32 pm

Kerrie Phillips is a registered user.

"There but for the grace of (choose your deity) go those who are intent on keeping their neighborhood ethnically, morally, and economically superior".

Just goes to show that some Palo Alto residents are not as liberal/progressive, 'blue' as one might be led to believe.

Perceived property values and keeping up appearances apparently takes precedence over humanitarian concerns.

Yet another example of pervasive PA NIMBYism.

Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 29, 2022 at 6:28 pm

JR is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2022 at 6:41 pm

felix is a registered user.

Let's get our facts straight:
-Four spaces for 4 vehicles of housing.
-These are not "homeless" people (I'm not putting down unhoused folks, just pointing out they are not). These people own and live in vehicular housing, though transitioning to better housing is desirable.
-Some of the 4 vehicular homes, as has been true in other safe parking spaces, may inlude families with children who attend our schools - and may even know your children.
-In every Palo Alto neighborhood, there are homeowners with prior criminal records. Why are you all not insisting that everyone in your part of town be subjected to a criminal background check, including yourself? What do we really know about you, after all?
-We should not have to go through this "Fear Factor" thing everytime an organization wants to simply offer "shelter from the storm" to those among us who are struggling.
-Suggestion -Get to know some of these parking space folks at other Palo Alto sites- ask how to do it. Might make it better.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2022 at 8:30 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I understand the neighbor's concerns, but this is 4 vehicles, not 40. If you're living out of your vehicle, you're homeless. There is no such thing as "vehicle housing." Even people living in a motel are considered homeless.

I agree that we could all be living near someone with a criminal record. Landlords and employers might run criminal backround checks, but I don't remember having a criminal backround check done when applying for a mortgage. And unless you do a complete backround check nationwide, a criminal backround check will only show for the county you're living in. Most people have lived in more than one county and could easily have committed criminal offenses in another county.

Troublemakers probably avoid programs like this. They know they're under intense scrutiny.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 29, 2022 at 8:43 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

JR, you think criminals are kept out of Palo Alto borders? By what mechanism? As part of their "paying their debt to society" do they have to have giant magnets installed in their feet so they can't get into the confines of Palo Alto, like the grocery cart magnets? [Portion removed.]

Posted by Monte Adams
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2022 at 7:46 am

Monte Adams is a registered user.

I counted 34 Palo Alto neighborhoods on the PA Weekly neighborhood list.

If each neighborhood provided a minimum of 4 parking spaces, 128 homeless vehicles could be accommodated.

All Palo Alto neighborhoods need to step up to the plate to ease the burden.

It's not about past criminal records or property values, it's about humanity and sharing responsibilities.

Posted by Eugene Cunningham
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2022 at 8:46 am

Eugene Cunningham is a registered user.

An easier solution would be for the larger Palo Alto shopping centers to allow supervised homeless parking between the hours of 10PM to 7AM.

Palo Alto residents should not be burdened with the responsibility of providing sanctuary.

Posted by Bruce Younger
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2022 at 9:54 am

Bruce Younger is a registered user.

I would imagine that outraged Palo Alto residents are primarily concerned about physical altercations, public sanitation, drug abuse, noise, and mental illness issues among those parked overnight.

These are serious concerns.

Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2022 at 10:34 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

Just NIMBY folks just using any excuse to not have 4 parking spaces taken up by RVs that will provide safe housing to families. As long as affordable housing is built or created far away from their properties, they are okay.
Affordable housing is being created all over Palo Alto, but you don't see residents in those neighborhoods putting up roadblocks like this over a mere 4 parking lots.
They are okay with slowing down traffic and traffic calming measures all over Louis Road, but 4 parking lots to house house insecure folks, god forbid that. We now need to run criminal background checks, because we all know house insecure folks living in RVs are prone to being dangerous criminals.

Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2022 at 10:38 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

4 parking spots/spaces (not lots).
Mere 4 parking spots

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 30, 2022 at 10:39 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

The request by local residents to not allow violent or dangerous convicted felons use this program is very reasonable. A background check is reasonable to ensure the person using the safe parking is not dangerous. It's fine to let them participate as long as their criminal background check shows they have not committed violence, sexual assualt or drug dealing to others.

Posted by ND
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2022 at 11:35 am

ND is a registered user.

These folks are already here Parked in our streets all Over town. Having a safe space would benefit us all. It's becoming a huge problem and requires innovation.. Cuddos to this Church for their inclusive approach.

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 30, 2022 at 11:58 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

The argument that the folks are already here is not completely true. Some will come to the city to participate in the program. Also, they are usually not parked in such child dense areas with little kids walking to school.

Posted by Gilbert Vale
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2022 at 1:21 pm

Gilbert Vale is a registered user.

To all of the residential Palo Alto RV haters...why don't you take some time & get to know us first prior to passing judgement.

You will find that except for the lack of certain creature comforts, we are a lot like you...we bleed, feel pain, and are just as concerned about the future as you are.

Posted by Anita Lewis
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Anita Lewis is a registered user.

The burden and responsibility of accommodating the homeless population rests with the Biden and Newsom administrations.

The money is there...spend it.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 30, 2022 at 4:27 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Anita, the burden of accommodating the homeless (especially the homeless mentally ill) rests on the Reagan administration. If you want to place blame on a governmental entity, start there. But homelessness has been a reality since the beginning of time. "Home" is where your heart is, according to some. But HOUSING is a commodity. And like every commodity, the price of housing is based on supply and demand. Right now, there's an extreme shortage which is causing a huge spike in prices of rentals and mortgages. No one's building now, because if everyone got housed there would be fewer opportunities to gouge consumers. In other words this has nothing to do with governmental oversight. Our country is a capitalist society. Until that changes, we will be teeming with homeless people. Here we are living in the heart of the most affluent zip codes in the country. And those who live in this circle refuse to allow "homeless" people to exist on the fringes because THEY ARE PAYING TO LIVE IN AFFLUENCE, not among poverty. Well, suck it up, buttercup, because it's these zip codes that have caused the problem in the first place. Greed is the number one problem that's causing homelessness. Can't blame the government for that. Look within your heart, and see where you could make a difference by allowing people to exist where they have landed -- homeless and NOT BY CHOICE.

p.s. Gilbert, I see you there, and I want to keep seeing you here and hearing your voice.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I find the whole plan not viable. One cannot reside in a vehicle in this manner. No running water, sanitation, electrical hookup, waste disposal - needed to be up to code.
One may camp in a campground with a vehicle and services and one may reside in a mobile home in a mobile home park.
Those residing in residential suburban neighborhoods have a right to not have unknown persons invited to live rough in a nearby parking lot. I also disagree with people renting out their not up to code garages for others to reside in.
This has nothing to do with Palo Alto in particular.

Posted by Maddy Cuthbertson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2022 at 5:35 pm

Maddy Cuthbertson is a registered user.

"...when life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door."
-Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia

Anyone can fall prey to homelessness through no fault of their own.

Some Palo Alto residents have overlooked that simple fact and have chosen instead to focus their contempt and unhospitality towards the less fortunate.

"Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan also comes to mind...

Posted by Chris C.
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:13 am

Chris C. is a registered user.

Folks here keep on mentioning RVs. The safe-parking program does not allow RVs to park at the church, it only allows for car dwellers.

Posted by Your Neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2022 at 6:52 pm

Your Neighbor is a registered user.

There IS an easy solution that accommodates all concerns. Use corporate parking lots.

Many of these churches are nestled among residential homes and families, whose concerns are legitimate.

The overnight parking is slated for 7pm to 7am. Most companies close down at night and are zoned for non-residential use. In line with Environmental Social Governance (ESG), these companies could make their parking lots available, make progress to their ESG goals, provide a safe environment for the less fortunate, and not impact the long term residents.

Posted by
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:00 pm is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

Hats off to the residents who have the courage to fight this, I hope they win. There is an area with picnic tables on the Louis Road side of the church where they can park but the church refuses to cooperate.

Posted by Balance
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2022 at 9:02 pm

Balance is a registered user.

I find it amazing that residents concerns for safety are being dismissed or shouted down. 4 spots is an admirable goal if there is a guarantee it won't increase. It is perfectly reasonable to ask what will be done to ensure safety, basic sanitation and the cars be park in a different part of the parking lot. I do not want to see Palo Alto going the way of San Francisco.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jul 31, 2022 at 9:23 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I took an informal survey at 3 AM today, to get an idea of how many people are living in their cars in PA city limits. Not wanting to identify anyone in particular, lest the "gang of 27" decide to start meting out some street justice, I merely drove through as an observer. There were many parked sleeping in parking lots, and on street curbs. So whoever is worried about four parking lots populated by ne'er do-wells at a secure church, you will have to bone up on your "scare - em all the way out of the county" skills. Just be careful, there's more of them, than you. Which just goes to show you -- they haven't been bothering anyone. Why can't you just leave peaceful people alone?

Posted by Ariel Stein
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2022 at 10:00 am

Ariel Stein is a registered user.

If this parking conflict involved a caravan of overnighters, I could understand the neighborhood complaints.

But only four cars parked in back of a church parking lot...seriously?

Posted by jhskrh
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2022 at 10:44 am

jhskrh is a registered user.

God forbid that Shallow Alto would have to deal with physical altercations, public sanitation, drug abuse, noise, and mental illness issues among those parked overnight. Mountain View has been dealing with these issues for YEARS now. I guess that's why affluent communities like PA prefer to push this problem south of the border (or east of the border from Los Altos) to Mountain View, a city that has bent over backward to provide safe parking and resources to 'unhoused, Houseless, (substitute PC word of the week) yet is being sued by lawyers who live in places like Palo Alto and Los Altos.

Posted by Megan Swezey Fogarty
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 10:48 am

Megan Swezey Fogarty is a registered user.

Thank you to FCCPA for working to provide safe parking. So many of our vehicle dwellers are seniors - many of whom have lived in our community. FCCPA has a multi-decade track record of hosting Hotel de Zink. I have never heard of any security concerns with doing so. So excited that LifeMoves may be building more transitional housing with the City on San Antonio. Until we do so let's help our neighbors get safety and services in this program well run by Move Mountain View.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2022 at 11:44 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Only TWELVE people submitted the appeal. The article doesn't say that they represent an organization of any size. Many hundreds of people own homes in this area, and the article doesn't make it clear that any majority of them are opposed. Please don't jump to conclusions about all Palo Altons in general. A church one block from my south Palo Alto home added limited homeless parking. We have experienced no problems. I do notice fewer mobile homes parked on the street in the neighborhood. I'm guessing the parking lot feels safer and provides more amenities provided by the church.

I would appreciate an end to the Palo Alto-bashing. You might be interested to learn, a multi-story, 50-unit 100% affordable apartment project is being planned next door to the same church I mentioned above. My neighborhood is supporting it. We also are Palo Altons. Palo Alto has more affordable housing than Mountain View per capita. Let's acknowledge accomplishments. Give credit where it is due in order to encourage all communities to do more. Criticizing people does not move them toward positive action.

Posted by staying home
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:07 pm

staying home is a registered user.

I am member of this neighborhood and not a member of this church. I support this effort applaud the Church for enacting the ideals they preach. Fear of the underprivileged is irrational and detrimental to our community. Move Mountain View is having a positive impact on homelessness, and they have done so with zero instances of crime or violence.

Think about it this way... you are worried about your safety, protecting your home/property/children. But the people who need this overnight service, they are the ones afraid. They face a daily fear of being towed, having their vehicle confiscated, being harassed. Do you think it is safe to live in an RV on random streets? The church is providing a safe temporary shelter. Read the profiles of some of the people helped (Web Link families fleeing domestic violence, seniors unable to stay in their home, pandemic impacted families. Is this who you fear?

Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

Please don't call it Shallow Alto. Palo Altans are generous people. The few who are raising a stink are fine with RVs and cars parking in someone else's neighborhood in Palo Alto. They cry "safety" but there are RV dwellers in downtown Palo Alto (I see 2 on my street every day), as well as other parts of Palo Alto.
You don't see neighbors decrying "safety" and "criminal history check" over these RVs parked in residential streets in Palo Alto, but the 4 parking spots in a church, how dare we provide those parking lots, we might as well run a full scope criminal check on those folks (because that church parking lot is close to your home).

Good for the church for doing tangible good works. Shame on the few selfish people who assume everyone who is living in a car is a criminal (unless they park on the street in someone else's neighborhood). You give everyone in Palo Alto a bad name with your whining.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:40 am

William Hitchens is a registered user.

The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Just look at San Francisco.

Posted by We Are The People
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:46 am

We Are The People is a registered user.

Some one up there mentioned "The Saint Reagan" Era. Putting Truth to Pen. He didn't start people being "Homeless" But he pushed it over the Cliff.
He and his "Trickle Down Theory". Because lets be honest, there have always been "Hobos". But what Reagan did was add "Families" to the equation.
I don't like RV parkers. Why? Because eventually it spills out and over. In reality, its just a "Bandage"? Hate to be sounding "harsh" but they have to be coming from somewhere?
What Woodwork is missing a few disadvantage?"
This is Silicon Valley. Not everyone that lives here is "well-off". The Software/Engineers that come here, they are making it hard for those that remain living here for over 60 plus years. Some traditional Homeowners, move/sell-out, then the price of housing goes up. Then the things result in "Homeless"? This entire area has a rate of over 60% Renters. Because those with Housing will tell "2 to 10 Friends" from the outside, because they have gotten hold of a House. But then that Spot becomes over ran. Then it overflows into surrounding Cities. Its like a Blueprint in how they function & operate.
Sorry for bringing the "The Elephant" into the room(s).
When there are RV's that come into play. It is NOT a Homeless (situation). Its
a Lifestyle. Some are unfortunately forced. Some were pushed. Some just love the venture. In any situation, they Lower the Quality of Life, for those, who lives that they've touch. They touch those that don't want their lives to change. And they shouldn't be forced to put up with it. Face it. There are those that want to take that extra Sweater/parking space. From those that have and just give it away to others. When those people have worked hard for their extra Sweater.
The Solution is 1.) Find another location outside for the RV's 2.) Build them Housing here 3.) Run them off! Either way, you are playing into their scenario.

Posted by Tim Miller
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:58 am

Tim Miller is a registered user.

One cannot be a true Christian by shunning those in need.

Kudos to the First Congregational Church for their efforts and shame upon the self-serving Palo Alto residents who are fighting this humanitarian gesture.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

We are at a humanitarian crisis. The solution is already among us. Safe, affordable, quality housing for all. What terribly, tragically pervasive racist, misogynist, redlining . People, humans are unhoused right this second in RV’s, tents, on the asphalt. Greed is a sickness and all of us have to fight like h double h toothpicks to push the climate tide of selfishness back. The unhoused is a revealing symptom that’s been festering for four decades. It’s exploded in front of our eyes and no one of us wants to take responsibility for cooperate capitalism at its most base. Tragic shame. 8 puppies die in a hot van... immediate response, solution, $$$ help. And humans get treated worse than an ally cat. It’s a pick yourself up by the broken, stretched, sodden boot strap. If you are lucky enough to have a strand of leather to hold onto. It’s all clicks, algorithms, drop down, hyperlinks. If it can’t be solved by the click of a mouse, forget it.

Posted by TripleLMember
a resident of Triple El
on Aug 2, 2022 at 4:28 pm

TripleLMember is a registered user.

The safe-parking program at the First Congregational Church is a laudable contribution that the church is making to the Palo Alto community. It will clearly benefit the 4 families/individuals (and more over time) who will be able to make use of the service. It is understandable that some neighbors may be concerned about the safety issue. However, evidence from other safe-parking programs seem to indicate that their concern is excessive. There has not been any complaints in the other locations. Also, I believe that two classes for children use the church facility. If anyone should be concerned about the impact of the program on children, it's the church itself. If the congregation is willing to provide safe-parking, it's strong evidence that the program has been designed to mitigate that concern.

Posted by Mensch
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2022 at 10:18 am

Mensch is a registered user.

I'm a member of First Congregational Church. Every March for years FCCPA has provided nightly food and shelter for 15 homeless people as part of the Hotel de Zink program. It has been delightfully eye-opening to meet the clients, some of whom have university degrees and speak multiple languages. I don't anticipate any inappropriate behavior from safe parking program clients. I'm grateful to the church's neighbors for supporting our activities in the past, and hope they will agree to be part of the solution to our region's housing problems.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 21, 2022 at 5:04 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

When I want to feel good I look for articles in this publication about homeless people. So many local residents are so supportive of giving from their hearts (and yes, from their pockets) to help their fellow humans. There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are homeless people. But you would have to talk to a homeless person, and learn their reality and story, before you could ever understand why they need more help than the rich and are DESERVING of it. The meek shall surely inherit the earth. They already have. They are more grounded, more earth-bound and steeped in reality than those who lock their doors at night.

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