Posted by Andy, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Jul 15, 2007 at 10:29 am
I find that theory unlikely. While there are a number of homeless of the area, (though I've never been "hassled" by them) I assume they would not likely have access to the area (apparently on the second floor) where the fire started. There have been cases around the country of homeless people starting fires in abandoned building to keep warm, but there would be no reason for someone to do that in the summer in a warm climate like ours.
There are 4 basic reasons why a fire like this is started:
1) vandalism (ie. "just for fun")
2) anger at a business in the building (ie. "disgruntled employee")
3) circumvent city's codes to build something more valuable on the land (and I'm not suggesting that this happened here)
4) cover up a crime (ie. break-in at an upstairs business, or, in rare cases, a homicide)
It's hardly fair to characterized Palo Alto's homeless as a "gang". They are thrown together by circumstances, rather than choosing to join together for some nefarious purpose. The homeless, much like the udocumented immigrant community, have an undeserved reputation for lawlessness, in fact, they tend to avoid doing things that bring them into contact with the police.
I hope that the perpetrator of this arson are found, I doubt that they will turn out to be among the areas homeless.
Posted by asdf, a resident of Stanford, on Jul 17, 2007 at 11:29 am
"The homeless, much like the udocumented immigrant community, have an undeserved reputation for lawlessness, "
Illegal aliens are felony immigration violators. Obviously they don't have much respect for the laws of the United States if they're willing to steal cars (Web Link), practice identity theft to gain social security numbers (www.gao.gov/new.items/d02830t.pdf), and use other people's property as a public latrine (Web Link).
"The criminality of 100 homeless and 100 domiciled jail inmates was compared. Homeless jail inmates were significantly more likely than domiciled jail inmates to be mentally ill, to be arrested for nuisance offenses, to have more extensive criminal histories, and to have prior arrests for use of weapons, drugs, and alcohol. Suggestions for processing homeless offenders are given."
Posted by asdf, a resident of Stanford, on Jul 17, 2007 at 11:35 am
"though I've never been "hassled" by them"
Perhaps you've never actually walked in front of Starbucks or Walgreens. There are at least 5-10 homeless guys in the area who habitually walk into stores and hassle the customers for money and the proprietors for free food. There was one old homeless guy with glasses who used to stand in front of Subway, who stank of urine and asked pretty much everyone who walked by for money.
Stand around there with a video camera for an hour or so and tell me whether you don't see any incidents of panhandling.
"there would be no reason for someone to do that"
There's no reason to be on the streets either. Many of these people have mental problems.
Posted by lisa harris, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2007 at 11:29 pm
I REALLY GET SICK AND TIRED OF FAUX LIBERALS STANDING UP FOR THESE VAGRANTS! LET'S FACE IT, VAGRANCY HAS BECOME A PROBLEM IN SO CALLED CHIC PALO ALTO. ALSO WITH THE VAGRANCY FOLLOWS CRIME, UGLINESS, BAD SMELLS AND DISEASE. A PERSON WOULD HAVE TO BE A FOOL TO NOT REALIZE THIS. I WOULD NOT BE SUPRISED IF A GROUP OF THESE CRAZY BUMS STARTED THIS FIRE. I SURE WILL BE GLAD WHEN PALO ALTANS PUT DOWN THEIR CUP OF NASTY STARSUCKS LATTES AND YOGA MATS AND TAKE NOTICE OF THIS.
Posted by Jk, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2008 at 6:09 am
I made the mistake of leaving home when 19 with mental issues. When I got fired from my gas station job I lost my shared apartment room and lived from my car. I usually parked near the train station or in Stanford Shopping Center's lot and slept near the tracks under El Palo Alto or the shrubs lining the tracks by the softball diamond behind the train station. I had all my belongings confiscated by the cops once and was "escorted" by truncheon out of parks more than once. I never "hassled" passersby, stole or used illegal drugs. I watched cops beat homeless and take them to jail, usually for being drunk in public. That was 1983. I still have problems and am chronically homeless at age 44. Will you give me a job or rent me a room if I get a job to help keep me out of your parks, parking lots, yards & buildings? Hardly. You want me to be invisible or better yet dead or gone and not a burden to your eyes or tax bill. Will you pay for my medication and frequent hospitalizations due to living out of doors? Will you feed me? No, you either stare meanly from your Volvo's tinted windows or look away furtively in quiet disgust. You slam doors, hang up telephones and even cuss and spit at me. I grew up in a large, beautiful home near PAHGCC. I am a Palo Alto son. I went to Henry M. Gunn High School. I won a ribbon swimming for PAHGCC. I rode horses in the foothills when the Quarter Horse Farm wasn't multi-million dollar gaudy estates.I worked for Olga Stapleton, McDonald's on El Camino & Chuck Nietto's restaurant on Lytton. I helped open the Crate And Barrel Store at Stanford. All of this as a teenager. Now, as an adult with mental disease and homeless I am not treated as a Palo Alto son. I'm treated worse than a leper.