Town Square

Woman seriously injured after Opportunity Center assault

Original post made on Jul 31, 2013

A Palo Alto woman who was attacked at the Opportunity Center is recovering from life-threatening injuries and her alleged attacker has been charged with assault with a deadly weapons, according to police.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 4:39 PM


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Posted by denney johnsen
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm

For a time i had to access the oppotunity center usually the staff were able to diffuse situations like this but this occured inside the building. What surprises me is no one heard anything and called the police.

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Posted by Erroneous
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2013 at 7:11 pm

It was erroneous of that ER to release that woman. Did they not examine her thoroughly? They should have checked her vision, her brain, etc. Or did they not do so because she was poor?

Sure sounds like the Stanford ER

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2013 at 7:56 pm

This is awful! What is this place doing located so near a high school? There have been a number of incidents in or near Town & Country and PALY.

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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I had my car washed at the establishment located across the street from the Opportunity Center. When my car was finished, I gave the attendant my receipt, climbed in and and turned on the car.

A couple of guys came from across the street, tried to stop me and then started yelling obscenities. I stopped to see what was wrong and they were just yelling. The attendants at the car wash just told me to go.

It was weird and frightening at the same time.

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Posted by Cassie
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Need to stay clear of that area. Sounds dangerous.

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Posted by Perplexed
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2013 at 9:06 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Sparty
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:46 am

You can buy tazer guns at Frys. I did. I would for sure use it on someone acting in a threatening manor, and now I know people over there have a history of violence and aggression. Any reasonable person would defend themselves in that area.

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Posted by Sad
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:50 am

How very,very sad. Why did the Police not figure out right away how badly she was being attacked and insist on her being examined. Several people dropped the ball here.
What is happening to Palo Alto?

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Posted by To Sparty
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:54 am

You obviously have never been attacked and have no idea what you are talking about. Why don't you check the stats on how much that taser will help you in an emergency.
But then you are probably sure you are better then the stats too.
Check in with your compassionate self instead of adding insult to injury

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Posted by Chrisc
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:08 am

It's strange that the Center allows overnight guests. I had occasion to visit somebody at a subsidized apt bldg in San Mateo. Any visitors had to sign in and out and were not supposed to be there overnight. Why didn't the police see more than scratches. If this were an episode of law and order, it would turn out the boyfriend did it later on.

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Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:26 am

The Opportunity Center should be just that -- an opportunity to get one's life together. Rooms should NOT be provided on a permanent basis AND there should be rules about who stays and who must go.

Likewise, residents of the OC should be prohibited from panhandling at traffic signals. Are there laws against this? Are there laws against menacing activity by the crowd around the OC?

Some of those forced to live in cars now would no doubt be grateful for the opportunity of temporary housing to get back on their feet. And many might prove better neighbors.

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Posted by Relative Realist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:33 am

This sad incident surely represents the reality of our "Opportunity Center". By what logic do we think that warehousing these unfortunates at some of America's most expensive real estate will create for them anything but hopelessness, dependence and despair?

Did we think that the exclusive location would help them to land a faculty job at Stanford? Programmer at Google? Engineer at Apple? Maybe as a VC at Kleiner Perkins?

It's brutally hard for all but the most educated -- elite, if you will -- to find work in and around Palo Alto. Yet, as Pope Francis said last week in Rio: "Power, money, culture do not give us dignity. Work, honest work, gives us dignity." Why shouldn't disadvantaged citizens be provided housing near the kind of industries (and jobs) where they may some day be able to get back on their feet, to rejoin society as productive members? And why shouldn't this housing be built where real estate isn't so dear, such that more units could house more people who need it?

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

When the Opportunity Center was first proposed at its current location, anyone who opposed it was chastised and ridiculed for being unsympathetic to the poor, hardhearted - the list is long. It was pointed out THEN that this may have been a good idea, but it was a bad location next to a $$$$$ shopping center, along a major highway - State 84, near a high school, and very near to very upscale hotels and restaurants let alone Stanford. But anyone who protested on legitimate concerns was labeled and ridiculed. The City Council gushed all over....and disagreers dared not do so. Some churches and 'civic leaders' put pressure on members and residents to donate. Names of donors published for all to see with more $$$ the better . It was THE THING socially and civically to support in Palo Alto. The PA Clinic wanted to expand along entire Encina Way.But one elderly property owner was convinced to sell it for the Op Center. Now we read of the PAPD calls to the site. It was meant to be a transient site to help people get back on their feet - not a long term hotel. No other city on the Peninsula does this. The word is out. And many people don't like the building itself. It is rather bizarre in that landscape IMHO. Every evening at dusk and in the dark, Stanford patrols the area on the west side of El Camino for 'campers'. The
Op Center IS a good idea, it's just in the wrong place.Question: WHERE was a good place?

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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

The Opportunity Center is a much-needed place for folks with no other options. However, this story speaks to why homeless shelters need to be carefully regulated and supervised. A large percentage of homeless are psychologically unstable or substance abusers. Cubberley Community Center which serves hundreds of children every day should NOT be used as a "de facto" homeless shelter. Good grief! It's challenging to keep folks safe even when there is homeless support staff on site.

I hope this poor woman will recover. I hope charges will be pressed on the man who beat her. He belongs in jail.

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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 1, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Opportunity Center, Cubberley Center. One supervised, one isn't.
Imagine what worse things could happen at an unsupervised site.

Quite a few years back, a homeless woman sleeping in Mitchell Park was beaten within a inch of her life. Was this crime ever solved?

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Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm

If you build it, they will come to your city from all over the place, many wonderful people down on their luck, others with real problems, and a few who pose a danger to our community.

Why did we build it in the first place? Didn't we know how it would end up?

Can it now be closed down?

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm

As I now recall, the land was seized by a county housing authority by 'eminent domain' process. I distinctly remember that had never been tried before in Palo Alto. And this sets a very dangerous precedent for the entire city. If someone out there remembers this, please chime in. I do remember that the City Council had little if any objection- was very positive as was the churches. Seemed like a 'steam roller' from start to finish. And who was the architect? Another bad design IMHO. It's out of place. Doesn't fit the surrounding architecture. Thank you.

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Posted by Uffizi
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Where was this emergency room that so quickly discharged this woman after she was beaten a d kicked? They should be held responsible for not examining her thoroughly. She probably has brain damage now, which they would have found had they done an MTI, which can not be done in 20-30 minutes.

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Posted by Mom by Gunn
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2013 at 1:00 am

It's very ironic, I happen to know that there are many persons who are living in the OC who went to Palo Alto schools~ not all persons there at the OC are transplanted people from far away.
With the closure of Agnews long ago, the people who need help for several different illness' have been going unchecked~ very sad. True, there are many "goings on" inside the OC that need correcting. The original ideal place that was to gel from building a safe haven has gotten out of control.
Perhaps a policeman can be stationed at the front desk to observe the in's and out's ..and give advice to those who need it. Use the OC as an outstation like at Ventura School...
Let's quit complaining and try to rectify this problem. This is my suggestion and I hope it would work well with the people in the OC who need the help.

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Posted by mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 5, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for bringing that economic class of people to Palo Alto (and you know who you are). I am against bringing that group into our town now and I have been all along. For reasons that have been proven true for decades.

I left Palo Alto for 5 years to attend UC Berkeley Business School in the early 1990s and spent enough time there and then after graduating, living in San Francisco--tripping over drunken street people, and beggars on the sidewalks--being accosted on sidewalks by both, and in cross-walks by drunks as well. I got sick of it after a while and I wanted to get away from all of that and t he only place I knew that didn't have much of a problem with that group was Palo Alto. (Largely due to a strong police force that has been hobbled--brought to its knees by a certain powerful group of people who have limited even how the police force can broadcast a description of a criminal at large--especially if it is an accurate description! That kind of power has clearly gotten way out of control and is being abused and needs to be corrected).

When I returned to Palo Alto in the mid-1990s it was to solely to get away from that type of behavior, to distance myself from the threats to my personal well being by a certain class of people which Palo Alto lacked when I left--I wanted to get to a safe place where my wife and I could have, and then raise, children within a group of people--a class of people-- with shared values--our own culture, beliefs, our values, and our goals.

However, there is a certain politically active group of bleeding liberal socialist type behaviorists endorsing folks right here in Palo Alto parading themselves as forward thinking liberalist who just could hardly wait to integrate that very same class of folks right I wanted to distance myself from right into our nice quiet, safe community--while at the same time putting the weakest of us at risk-such as a 60 year old woman talking on a cell phone, kids in school (high school in this case).

Once that class of folks are in to a town, city, school, business, etc, they are all in: as well as all of their relatives, and of their friends, their friend's friends next of kin and so on.

Gee--thanks a lot for pushing that economic social strata of a group upon us while at the same time beating your chest with your fists and claiming to anyone who will listen that you are such well doers of society--such integrators of society--such--well, such arrogant self-promoting, liberal thinking, and bull-headed "my way of life should be everyone's way of life" ideologists. In fact Jim Jones comes to my mind when I think about the group of people in our society who believe that their own values must be imposed upon society because their values are the correct values. While claiming to be liberal, they are the most intolerant of all: if someone doesn't like that group's values, or morals then they will use the words like "Racist", or Bigots to demoralize them and go to the matt to impose their own values on society at large--values such as having an the " Opportunity Center" right next to a hospital, a high school, and the town and country center where the kids like to hang out during lunch etc--however, as is the case at point in my writing if someone in that group doesn't agree with that group (like me) they hold that group and anyone else who disagrees with them to be "racist", or "intolerant", bigots, etc ( see "Comments to find out who is in that group here in town).

Now we--the rest of us who have made a financial investment in this town and have paid our taxes year after year--are left to live with the result of the bleeding hearts--but where are they living at exactly? Certainly not in the area of the "Opportunity Center" of course--that is for the rest of us to live with and around. No doubt those responsible for getting that group of society is not living in that group of society per se or around that group of society--they live somewhere safe.

Here is the lesson: use your votes brothers and sisters to get the power back and away from those who are not looking out for our community before we don't have a community here in Palo Alto anymore. Whether or not we have that power to do that at this stage, I am not certain. However, either we pull together as a group, or we will be left hoping for equity from the groups that have usurped our power base.

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Posted by Linda
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Before I came knew about the Opportunity Center I would have thought "what a great thing to do for people that need help". Today I have a completely different way of thinking.

1. A police person once told me that most homeless people are homeless for a reason. He explained to me that most people that live on the streets are people that are not able to comply with rules. They have been banned from shelters because they can not behave themselves. This is no different than most of the people that are patrons of the Opportunity Center.

2. The police/paramedics are at the OC almost every day. They are so sick and tired of the issues, that they no longer care to make arrests unless it is a very major issue. People can lay drunk at the door and the police will just leave them laying there and do nothing. They have become jaded and so have I.

3. I have talked with the owners of the shops at Town and Country and they are sick of the OC residents that come in and try to abuse their staff or pick pocket their merchandise. It is an all day, every day issue. Most have banned a good number of the residents from walking into their stores.

4. When one of the residents continues to act out, even when management gives them notice to move, the courts step in and stop it. There are a number of people who live there that are capable of extreme violence and once they are there it is next to impossible to get them out. Without back up management has no teeth.

5. Lets talk about the children that live there. There is no place for them to play so they are exposed to the junkies, drunks and crazies. This is no place for children.

6. Section 8 is a joke. Anyone can fake their way into section 8 because they do not demand to see your tax returns. You just tell them what you want them to know and wa la you get your subsidy. Our tax dollars are paying for these malcontents to live rent free, yet they have money to buy booze and drugs. What I don't understand is this: How do people from other countries, who have never worked within the United States, who do not speak English - How do they get Social Security and Section 8 Housing? Good families who work hard are being turned away because there isn't enough money to take everyone.

7. A lot of people who need the services are unable to get them because the people that congregate around the building are scary and once you have been accosted by one, you will never go back.

8. There are good people at the OC that do good work but even with the best of intentions it falls flat when people don't want or welcome their help. Some of the people that live there have worked their way up and been able to leave and provide for themselves but they are very, very few, maybe 1%.

The Opportunity Center is a social experiment that failed. It is time pull the plug.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I lived at the Opportunity Center for over a year.

During that time I witnessed dozens of altercations

and chronic problems related to alcohol and drugs

that were not addressed by staff.

I repeatedly talked to security and managers, but

my complaints fell on deaf ears.

I ended up leaving because of fear for personal safety.

Tom Ray