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on Aug 2, 2013
Banning things has seldom provided solutions to problems.
Yes to the statement: "With heart, reflection and dialogue, Palo Altans can find solutions for our city..."
>Banning things has seldom provided solutions to problems.
What a nonsensical statement. State-sponsored segregation was banned, and solutions have been forthcoming; high pollution levels from internal combustion engines have been banned...and the air is cleaner. Santa Barbara banned car camping on its streets, via its parking restrictions (in other words, they criminalized it)...then the non-profits got their act together.
Until homelessness is criminalized in Palo Alto, there will be no solution. Liberal guilt is not an answer.
They banned pit bulls in Union City, the pit bull owners moved to Fremont. The y then banned pit bulls on Fremont, so the pit bull owners moved back to Union City, where there was less e forcemeat of the ban. Result: two pit bull attacks of children on the past three weeks in Union City
>They banned pit bulls in Union City, the pit bull owners moved to Fremont...
So, ENFORCE the ban on pit bulls in every city. Dah!
Thanks George, for compiling and distributing these lessons and experiences, well stated. It seems a lot of the support for this is coming from fear. Fear that is induced by repeatedly talking up such a very few complaints and bad experiences, but never a comparison with the crime in the greater NON-homeless or NON-car-camper population that is much greater. When there is a real documented problem that cannot be solved otherwise, then let's formulate and pass a law about it, until then let's let the police use the existing spirit and letter of the law to manage community problems.
> Learning No. 4: The Palo Alto municipal code explicitly protects people from discrimination based on housing status:
This part of the municipal code says a lot ....
>> Section 9.73.010(b): Freedom from Arbitrary Discrimination.
>> It is the policy of the city of Palo Alto to protect and safeguard
>> the right and opportunity of every person to be free from
>> arbitrary discrimination on the basis of their race, skin color,
>> gender, ... housing status,..., weight or height.
I heard in he media yesterday that there was some gathering or rally to support the homeless, but it was vague on where and when - kind of implying it was going to be on Monday before the City Council convenes. Do you know anything about this?
> Santa Barbara banned car camping on its streets, via its parking restrictions (in other words, they criminalized it)
My understanding of this was that it was based on lots of people, not even necessarily the homeless or car campers - camping out and living on the beach .... that is a concentration in one chronic place that could not be addressed any other way.
Like most of the arguments that are pro-this-ban on the homeless, they are made to scare or prod people, without much respect for the truth, and many are just unsubstantiated claims or broken recored repetitions of the same incident over and over implying it happens every day.
By the way ... Quakers ROCK! ;-)
What about sanitation? A PortaPotty on every block? Who pays?
@crescentparkanon, folks will be gathering at 6:00 in front of city hall.
I regret an addition that the editors made to my title, because it misplaces the thrust of the argument about discrimination. I had called the piece "Let's Not Discriminate" and the paper added "against the vehicle dwellers". I can see why they would want a more descriptive title so readers would know what the article is about. However, the proposed ban is not merely "discrimination against the vehicle dwellers", it is discrimination against the homeless in general, i.e. discrimination on the basis of housing status, which runs against city policy as declared in the municipal code. If you listen to people's rationales for the ban they make reference over and over again to "the homeless". If I were a judge and this a court, I would order all testimony referring to "homeless people" stricken from the record. The city council people should ignore all such reasoning, as by virtue of their office they have a duty to uphold city policy which forbids such discrimination. I will be terribly embarrassed for Palo Alto if this ban passes. We need to do better and we can.
Doesn't Palo Alto already have a 72 hour limit on parking in one spot. Why not apply it to vehicle dwelling with the caveat that moving a vehicle has to be at least one block away? Most of time I see the vehicle but not the vehicle dweller. Forcing the vehicle to occasionally move would at least force it to licensed and working.
The 72 hour parking rule does nothing to stop car camping or the issues that people are complaining about. The point is that residents do not want car camping in their neighborhoods, in front or near their homes or in areas where their children may need to travel by or use a facility....at all. Not even for one night. We want our neighborhoods back.
If the city wants to continue to allow car camping, then the city should establish a facility that ca handle the vehicles and the associated needs/issues that go along with car camping.
If those who don't want to discriminate against vehicle dwellers would simply invite the dwellers to park on their driveways, the problem would be solved.
Boy! This issue has got overblown. If you read the proposed new municipal code there is no punishment attached, therefore, it is without teeth!! In fact it will help the vehicle dwellers because the City will be reaching out to give those less fortunate help.
For those commenting that the pit bull breeds were banned in Union City & Fremont, it's not true at all. The fatal attack in Union City happened 6 weeks ago. I haven't seen anything in the news about a second attack, which of course doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Bans work better in some areas of society than others. It also helps to cite a real, actual ban that has occurred & is comparable. This cite about pit bulls is neither.
The misinformation in this thread re the breeds ban is a good example of how easy it is to put out wrong information by mistake.
There is no such thing as liberal guilt but there should definitely be, although I'm not holding my breath, conservative guilt. Homelessness is in large part the collateral damage of crony capitalism so it's conservatives who should open their houses to the homeless and begin atoning for their misguided and deeply flawed ideology.
Many homeless people are mentally disabled and unable to take care of themselves. Ronald Reagan eliminated funding for the mentally ill and as a result, many mentally ill patients were kicked out onto the streets, swelling the homeless population and perpetuating the homeless problem. A just society takes care of those who can't take care of themselves instead of criminalizing them. This is just kicking the can down the road.
The people against banning car dwellers have had several years to propose and implement a solution - all they can do say how this ban would be unfair, immoral. Yet they haven't provided any alternative.
Instead the issues around car dwelling has gotten worse over the past several years - greater numbers of car dwellers, more crime involving car dwellers, more police calls - this in a local economy that has gotten better, where there have been more affordable housing options created.
It's time for the law.
They do say "common sense ain't so common." It seems to be true here.
Using minute variances in the frequency of crimes that are not statistically meaningful has been one of the thing some people do arbitrarily to justify their biases and a lot of changes in things that do not accomplish anything but to waste time. Check out "The Wire"
Car dwelling and homeless problems have not been shown to be increasing, and if someone decides to call the police 20 times a day the number of calls will go up to. There doesn't seem to be a greater number of car dwellers.
Why doesn't someone on the side of this new law have any real facts to back up their claims, they merely post more often and get more strident in their claims.
The people against this ban probably think there is no action needed since all the problems claimed by the pro side already have laws regarding them.
I'd be happy to switch sides of this, although mostly I just ask questions about the need for this ban that are not being answered plainly and honestly ... show me a proven need, and show me how this ban will solve the problem - otherwise quit wasting everyone's time on these never-ending whining complaints about car campers. Utilize the existing legal framework.
This ordinance is not a solution at all because the car dwellers will keep moving around, perhaps to another town, they will not suddenly be able to afford rent, and if the PA police are serious about enforcing the ordinance, they will divert resources and manpower from crime prevention which should be their main priority.
Many car dwellers suffer from serious mental disorders and are incapable of supporting themselves in a manner sufficient enough to afford housing. Those people need to be in mental hospitals. Kicking the can down the road solves nothing. Palo Alto cannot solve the awful economic and social problems that right wing policies have created and exacerbated, but criminalizing mental illness is a cruel and pretty inhumane punishment.
The same way I was assigned to an elementary school instead of being allowed to drift on the streets.
Very interesting headline in the Bay Area section of the San Francisco Chronicle today (8/3) "RV Parking Restrictions Clear City Streets" "...advocates for the homeless said it was a case of criminalizing the vehicularly homeless"
"....Bottom line is that the oversize vehicle legislation garnered enough support to pass in spite of the vehement opposition of the Homeless Coalition....."
One of the reasons the SF ban passed is that they found 60 percent of the RVs were registered to citizens of San Francisco who had regular homes elsewhere in the city. They were just storing them around town, particularly at Ocean Beach, instead of on their own property. I would suggest that this is a different situation than we face in PA.
CrescentParkAnon - you state "Car dwelling and homeless problems have not been shown to be increasing, and if someone decides to call the police 20 times a day the number of calls will go up to. There doesn't seem to be a greater number of car dwellers."
The articles in the weekly say that there were twice as many police incidents at Cubberley in 2012 than in 2011, and more in 2011 than in 2010.
Where's your documentation that the same person called 20 times in the same day?
The Santa Clara County Homeless Census reports that the number of unsheltered (which includes those living in vehicles) homeless in Palo Alto in 2011 was 106, and in 2013 was 145. This same survey says 31% of the homeless reported substance abuse problems, 28% reported mental illness problems.
The people against the ban have not proposed any alternative. They've had years to propose an alternative, but all they can do is cry about the ban being "immoral";
Common Sense ... yeah, at Cubberly. If Cubberly is the problem why do you generalize it to the whole city ... and, if it is car campers why are people lumping the homeless into this? I agree that is sounds as if there is something that needs attention at Cubberly, but that does not mean a car-camping ban is the answer. If there are trouble-makers at Cubberly, then deal with them. This law is attempting to take an unknown issue at Cubberly and call it car-camping.
You are so quick to jump on me with incomplete logic, and then claim that I am against this because it is immoral ... again, I am not against this because it is immoral, I am not for this because I don't see a specific need for this particular law being demonstrated ... certainly not by some of the incoherent logic exposed here with just a bit of digging and asking questions. Lots of exaggerations and implications ... where's the beef?
I agree that the city should have some way to manage homeless issues. I am not educated enough on these issues to know exactly what the problems are and what keeps that from happening.
For example, there is the little hunched over lady with a mass of tangled-matted hair that seems to live downtown in various doorways. What is the story with her? This lady definitely seems to need some help and I wonder why she wanders year after year around downtown? Can the Palo Alto Online do some research and find out something about her story and perhaps use this as an example of nothing getting done. Why?
Occasionally I have gone to the downtown Post Office in the wee hours of the morning to send off packages in the automated kiosk there. There is a woman who seems to be using the Post Office to sleep in at night. She is not bothering anyone, and I have even had occasion to talk to her. She is coherent, but has some kind of mental issue, like paranoia. She is clearly managing her life the best she can, but why can't these people be helped?
I would guess because by "help" mostly it means being locked away, institutionalized and often tormented against their will in a virtual prison. It may just take too many resources to care for these people so they are just left alone to fend for themselves. There is really a whole universe here to discuss.
I have been in Palo Alto for over 40 years ... before there were any homeless until now. I question that there are more homeless here now. I think it is stable to perhaps a bit less, but I am just going by my own "unscientific" sample of what I see when I go downtown and other places.
Personally, I think it is better for everyone, except those who want to make these people disappear, for them to be left alone - if they are not hurting anyone. The simple fact seems to be that despite all modern medicine's claims that we do not know how to fix these people. We used to hide them away or give them lobotomies and say we were curing them. The level of discussion about this by the people who find solutions in things like this car-camping ban just seems to be - well, if you care about it, let them live in your home. That is a sure sign of someone who does not deserve to be leading the thinking on these issues in my opinion.
I don't know what the problem is, let alone the answer, but I think according to the stats that the homeless population is less danger, less violent and less expensive to manage the way things are than other actual offenders we see in the community that have places to live and predate other productive citizens.
I resent the dishonest conversation that is behind most of the talk that supports this ban. Its pretty transparent because I am not even close to this issue or much touched by it. The people who have what they think is a solution, their solution, just exaggerate, complain, whine, cajole, lie, distort, and propagandize to people who they hope just hear their part of the story. It just seems to me like if the other side of the story of these people was presented, and this conversation was an honest dialog, which is plainly isn't, some progress might be made.
People, for the disabled using the REACH program at Cubberley, the problems were already started when I left to go back to the BETTER permanent treatment given by CO. Our family registered me to use the VTA service SEVERAL TIMES and nothing happened, so I used family transportation. CO gives me LIMO service if I need it for doctor visits.
But I digress...
Using the NON LOCKED bathrooms ( the REACH program HAD to keep a set of bathrooms LOCKED ) at Cubberley was a real eye opener. I took only ONE excursion outside our REACH wing. I regretted doing that...
A related issue on the homeless: CALTRANS has put up chain link fences in areas under bridges and signage to discourage camping by homeless. I saw it all over the Peninsula when I was there. THAT has added to your homeless problem. Look at the area where 101 and 85 meet under the freeways.
The " professional homeless season " is about to begin in CA. The people in harsher climates LOVE the liberal attitude that parts of the SFBA have. Part of the illegal ( in Denver Metro cities ) panhandling money is saved for the one way bus ticket to CA before the snow flies and the fights over the steam heat grates in downtown Denver start. Yes, some fight for their " turf ", especially in winter.
That is an observed REALITY and my personal experiences out in CA and when I have to visit Denver.
P.S. There are several ministries within a short distance. They only get used by some but not the professional homeless unless they lose their " turf ". " Too many rules " the interviewed say...
>but why can't these people be helped?
Because they are not criminalized.
Crescent Park Anon says: "If Cubberly is the problem why do you generalize it to the whole city ...
On August 5 the City Council has an agenda item referring to the whole City. On August 12 the City Council will be dealing with Cubberley more specifically.
The "whole City problem" as Council sees it includes those vehicles camping at the El Camino side of College Terrace and other locations around the City. Cubberley has a whole set of other problems which have recently involved police time.
This is so ridiculous. In our society we leave the rich and powerful alone and pick on the weakest and hapless, many of which are mentally handicapped. None of the Wall Street crooks who nearly caused a world-wide depression and cost the US economy trillions of dollars and millions of jobs was ever indicted, let alone imprisoned. They are continuing the same practices that caused the 2008 financial catastrophe and another one is only a matter of time.
Their wealth and influence make them untouchable, and we the tax payers will undoubtedly bail them again. In the meantime, look at the glee in which so many posters here want to criminalize the poor souls trying to survive in their vehicles. No one, including me likes car dwellers on their street, but this is so skewed and immoral when you consider how we let the criminals who destroyed the lives of so many get away with it while we pick on those who have no power or influence.
EE, America is a capitalist country, not Communist. Capitalism and opportunity for even immigrants who don't speak English to eventually become financially successful if they work hard. Sure, there are hopelessly drug-addicted and mentally ill homeless, along with traumatized veterans. But there are also homeless who are perfectly capable but refuse to get jobs and contribute to society, but rather simply exist. We should not sympathize with those who refuse to help themselves.
This isn't about criminalizing homelessness. It is about banning CAMPING.
Why should one person be allowed to camp in his car, but another person can't set up a tent on the sidewalk?
There is a reason all the other cities banned car camping -- it causes obvious and predictable problems. Why is Palo Alto so stupid?
There ARE plenty of services and options for homeless people in Palo Alto. Camping isn't a good idea. Any bleeding hearts are welcome to invite campers to use their driveways, but I bet they won't.
> America is a capitalist country, not Communist.
Is this tired inane non-argument still being offered as having some kind relevance to anything?
I'd bet that even the cities that banned car camping have these same issues, maybe even in the same or greater magnitude.
Having just been over the Mountain View today, I noticed RVs parked in the street there even though they have been cited here as having a car camping ban.
and "Rresident", that is not a response to my question, just another version of a weak attack.
The point here is that what real data that has been analyzed and vetted is being used to determine what this problem is and how it breaks down. In other parts of the country places like WalMart allow their parking lots to be used for RV'er to park in.
We should criminalize the criminals, like the people who are shootings kids in EPA, or the financial criminals talked about earlier by someone else.
The problems of Cubberly should be carefully and objectively listed and solutions should be offered and discussed, not a solution put forward by people who constantly argue stuff like "America is a capitalist country" of the "homeless problem should be solved by the homeless going to live with the people care about them." I'm so tired of that kind of talk, the same kind of talk that got us into war, forced through a bailout and ramrodded through laws through to reduce our privacy, keep the US as the only developed country that has no national health care system.
If people want change, let them justify it with facts ... like the might have to in a business ... tell me the ROI on this law, tell me the cost benefit ratio, and include all effects on all stakeholders. [Portion removed.]
Palo Alto already has the Opportunity Center with permanent housing and support services for formerly homeless individuals. What other housing options are there in PA and the surrounding communities?
"No Excuses," who like most of the commenters here does not wish to have his/her comments attached to his/her name, writes,
"Sure, there are hopelessly drug-addicted and mentally ill homeless, along with traumatized veterans. But there are also homeless who are perfectly capable but refuse to get jobs and contribute to society, but rather simply exist."
And there are millions around the country who are working full time and cannot afford rent. Do you know how many units of housing in Santa Clara County are affordable to people working a full-time, minimum-wage job? Zero.
The myth that anyone can make it if they just work hard enough allows those with plenty to congratulate themselves on their superiority, instead of acknowledging that we have simply been lucky . . . so far.
"No Excuses", if America is a capitalist country, why are the very same people and institutions who cause horrendous financial and economic damage:investments banks, hedge funds, big banks, etc, get bailed out by the unwashed tax paying masses every time they mess up and are on the brink of catastrophe. The reality is that we are not a free market country at all, we practice crony capitalism in which capitalism exists only for those who aren't wealthy and can't afford to purchase political favors, while those who can benefit from socialism, since the tax payers saves their bacon time and time again:the "Tot big to fail" syndrome.
Of course it's easy to ban car dwellers, they have no political power, since they can't afford to buy any, they are an easy and unattractive target, and picking on them is another indication of how immoral our society has become.
In Response to What Other Options...
I see your one opinion, and raise to you "spend two weeks, a fortnight, in the Opportunity Center," as a person with an open mind...then come back and say what you feel...
Pointing to the financial meltdown and the culprits behind it (I agree - who for the most part have gone unscathed) is way too convenient (emotionally) for another guilt trip rant.
You are comparing apples to oranges at best. In fact, not even in the same universe at the least.
If you want to blame inaction by the Judiciary to go after the financial bad guys, then you start with US Attorney General - who has done nothing. And by the way, he works for the current President of the United States. And we can also blame both legislative houses (and both parties are equally to blame) for the lack of fortitude.
What any of the above people (both the bad guys and all of the spineless politicos in DC) have to do with PA car camping is nothing but a huge stretch attempt at stirring the pot.
Read today's Daily Post and get an unemotional review of the situation.
Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood - you are INCORRECT when you say there are zero units of housing.
For example, 753 Alma rents out a studio for $475/month, 458 W Charleston Rd, rents out a studio for $358/month.
I'm sure with a little bit of research, you'll find affordable housing in other cities in Santa Clara County with similar or lower prices. It just takes having some maturity to doing some work, rather than acting out on mis-perceptions.
And for many people who live in Palo Alto, good fortune/luck has very little to do with ability to live here; many work hard, and many households are dual income households who work very long hours to be able to afford to live here, and through skill & intelligence, they made the right choices which enabled them to buy a home. I know of many households with dual wage earners working 50-70 hour weeks to make their companies successful so that they can provide for their families.
and I agree with Crescent Park Dad, that the financial meltdown has little to do with the car camping issue. It has to do more with people who have substance abuse issues or mental illness. This is not a moral or immoral issue; rather than look for villans and cast aspersions on people, those who support the car dwellers should be working with the county to find homes for the car dwellers to live, and for programs to address their substance abuse or mental illness issues. In the State of California, the county is responsible for much of what would fall under "social welfare".
What's wrong with the Opportunity Center? It may not be a 5-star hotel, but it sounds a heck of lot better than living in one's car IMO.
CrescentParkDad, you are wrong. there is a direct correlation between homelessness and eliminated budgets for the mentally ill, which started under Reagan. Many of the car dwellers suffer from mental disabilities and need to be in mental hospitals, not fighting for survival on the street. It is a moral matter. If we don't go after the big Wall Street thieves we have no moral rights to go after those who can't afford to buy political protection.
You are welcome to your opinion and POV. I don't agree, but that doesn't mean you're a bad or immoral person from my point of view.
If civil discussion of a social issue is immoral, then we're all sinners.
Changing focus from the latest Wall Street fiasco to the Reagan administration (withdrawing funding from mental health) is at least a much better argument in terms of how the safety net became unraveled.
But it still doesn't address the issue of solving car camping in PA residential neighborhoods and community centers (that are used by seniors and youth).
And I will say it again - I am on record many times on this website as to supporting a city sponsored parking/camping lot - monitored by security, check-in/check-out procedures (no alcohol, drugs, sobriety a must), bathroom facilities, trailer for outreach services/office.
So while you may not like my most recent post, I will not take it personally as I feel I have offered up a reasonable and supportable solution to the problem. (Instead of whining about the pending camping ban and laying out guilt trips).
Outside of opposing the car camping ban, what alternatives do you propose to solve the problem?
And I would ask everyone who supports the current Federal Administration (I voted for Obama)...why doesn't the current Administration look to restore and fund a national mental health program? Anyone can blame the Reagan Administration...we all now how it started. But we've had 2 Democratic party Presidents (and at one time a Demo House) and no effort/leadership to restore mental health programs. So in my book, there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to not solving a national problem.
As for PA, it's time to re-establish local control of our residential neighborhoods. Today it's re-zoning run amok and car camping.
I do not like the idea of discriminating against folks who need to live in their cars, only to make a comment- The Northbound bike lane on Park Blvd next to the Page Mill construction site is ALWAYS clogged with RV's, trucks w/trailers, and the like. This subjects bike riders to unnecessary dangers, as a full line of RV's is quite an obstacle to attempt to pass (and riding within the limit of the available space is quite unpleasant and cramping). It's a bummer.
I've noticed the RVs on Park Ave as well, but IMO that's as good a place as any for them to hang out. They're away from the residential neighborhoods and small businesses and not occupying coveted parking spots on El Camino Real near Stanford.
". This same survey says 31% of the homeless reported substance abuse problems, 28% reported mental illness problems."
Is this self-reported? It seems low--how many of you would report such problems to a survey?
CPA, one thing for your consideration....as much as I appreciate your ideas about trying to focus or localize the restrictions (e.g., Cubberly), I think that approach would only serve to kick the can to another parking lot.
For example, the Art Center/Library campers moved to Cubberly due to construction. If a restriction just focused on Cubberly, then the campers would naturally migrate to another location. And then we start all over again. This is why we needed a city-wide ordinance.
Does anyone know why the pro-car campers didn't organize sooner to come up w/potential solutions? I'm not trying to criticize them, I'm seriously asking. I know people in the faith community who've been very concerned, but it doesn't seem like they organized early enough to do something, a la Crescent Park Dad's suggestion for a designated area.
I've also been hearing pro/con arguments the last few days, from clients in Palo Alto, who're involved w/civic issues. They were surprised that the ban passed. Of course, given how Kniss has passed the buck, blaming the churches, it seems that there is definitely spin happening, too.
But maybe now the solutions will arise from interested organizations, given that the ban has been passed.
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