News

School from an RV: One family's rocky journey through distance learning

Palo Alto Unified boosts Wi-Fi signal pointed at RVs parked on El Camino Real

Noemi Solorio and her son, Jeremy, stand outside their recreational vehicle along El Camino Real in Palo Alto on Sept. 9. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

When the new school year started, the four Solorio siblings — a kindergartner, sixth-grader, eighth-grader and high school sophomore — sat in a circle in their family's cramped RV, parked on El Camino Real across the street from the Palo Alto school district's office, and tried to focus on online school.

But with four computers sharing one hot spot, all of which were provided to the family by the district, the internet connection often slowed or disconnected, and they were unable to finish classes. Their mother, Noemi Solorio, doesn't speak much English but would do her best to make sure her kids were focused and engaged, especially her youngest one, who's never attended school before.

When buses drive by on El Camino Real, the RV shakes. Without electricity, charged computer and cellphone batteries are precious commodities. The family parks in one place as long as they can before a police officer inevitably shows up and leaves them a tow warning notice that gives them 72 hours to move the RV a half mile away or face an expensive citation.

The children in the Solorio family are among a small number of homeless students in Palo Alto Unified — 23, according to the district — whose living situations bring to light deep inequities at play with distance learning. When staff heard two weeks ago of students in RVs who were struggling to access the internet consistently, even with the district-provided hot spots, they installed wireless access points outside the district office and pointed them toward the motor homes on El Camino Real.

"There are people that need help and they need help in ways most people would be unaware exist in Palo Alto," Superintendent Don Austin said.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

The Solorio family lived in San Jose before arriving in Palo Alto in February, just before the start of the pandemic, Noemi Solorio said in an interview conducted in Spanish. She was working in the food industry at the time. She worked in the afternoons while her husband worked in the mornings so at least one parent could be home with their children throughout the day.

Then shelter in place took effect. Her husband got laid off and her hours were cut. She later lost her job, but her husband found work again. They don't own the RV that's become their home but instead pay $700 a month in rent to the owner. She said those early months of the shutdown were "chaos" without the escape of a trip to the park or McDonald's.

'There are people that need help and they need help in ways most people would be unaware exist in Palo Alto.'

-Don Austin, superintendent, Palo Alto Unified

Solorio's full-time job is now sitting with her youngest son, Jeremy, while he's on Zoom for school from 8 to 11:30 a.m. He didn't attend preschool, so he hasn't had any exposure to school and is having trouble adjusting, particularly with everything happening online. He's 5 years old and easily distracted — by his siblings, by his hunger, by wanting to kiss and hug his mother.

"It's his first year. He doesn't know you have to pay attention," she said. "He doesn't know there's a pandemic. He just wants to play and play and play. It's difficult for me."

She's worried that he's falling behind his classmates and that the teacher is progressing to concepts he doesn't understand.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

"They're starting to want them to do sentences of two to three words, but how is he supposed to do that if he doesn't know the consonants or letters or sounds? How can the teacher want him to focus on entire words that he does not know?" she asked.

Solorio said it's been frustrating to see some of her children get marked absent or penalized when they lose their internet connection and miss class. She said she wishes there was more flexibility and communication with the teachers about their living situation. (She also asked for more compassion from the city about people living in RVs, who she feels are painted with an unfairly broad brush.)

RVs and vehicles line up along El Camino Real on June 25, 2019. Photo by Veronica Weber.

The mother of four compared the foundation laid at the start of a new school year — and with Jeremy, the start of his K-12 education — to starting the day with a good breakfast. Without one, you're not as well set up for success, she said.

"If you start the day badly, it will end badly," she said. "It does worry me."

Last week, Solorio's two older children, who are 13 and 15 years old, returned to school in person for the first time since March as part of the district's new PAUSD+ program for high-need students. She had mixed feelings about them going.

"I'm happy but nervous. I'm happy because due to the situation I'm living in, they were not doing all of their classes completely. It's not a problem with them. It's a problem with the power" and not being able to charge their computers, she said. "But I'm nervous because I know the coronavirus is something serious."

As a mother, she said she'd prefer to keep her children home with her where she knows they're safe and can limit their exposure to the coronavirus. When her husband comes home from work, he disinfects as much as possible and leaves his shoes outside the RV.

They can't help but feel inadequate as parents, Solorio said, and are "fighting" to find a stable home to move into. Last week, the district told them they'd get a second hot spot, a request that takes about a week to process, though the district is prioritizing homeless students.

"We feel like bad parents. We want a good roof above our heads," she said. "But at the same time I thank God because I still have a roof for them and they're healthy."

The school district has paused plans to open PAUSD+ programs at all of the elementary schools given the district hopes to start to fully reopen schools in mid-October. Knowing, however, that there are still young students who need a supportive place to learn, the district is opening a pilot version of PAUSD+ at Addison Elementary School this Monday, Sept. 21. The program will serve no more than 14 kindergarten through fifth grade students from Addison, Walter Hayes and Duveneck elementary schools.

The district has reached out to parents of struggling elementary students and in particular ones who haven't been attending online classes, Lana Conaway, assistant superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs, said. She said at least two elementary students who live in RVs have signed up for the program.

"The objective is to get them in a place where there's reliable internet ... and to make sure there's someone who can be that additional person to ask questions of and making sure they're engaged and know(ing) where they need to go next," Conaway said.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

School from an RV: One family's rocky journey through distance learning

Palo Alto Unified boosts Wi-Fi signal pointed at RVs parked on El Camino Real

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 6:59 am

When the new school year started, the four Solorio siblings — a kindergartner, sixth-grader, eighth-grader and high school sophomore — sat in a circle in their family's cramped RV, parked on El Camino Real across the street from the Palo Alto school district's office, and tried to focus on online school.

But with four computers sharing one hot spot, all of which were provided to the family by the district, the internet connection often slowed or disconnected, and they were unable to finish classes. Their mother, Noemi Solorio, doesn't speak much English but would do her best to make sure her kids were focused and engaged, especially her youngest one, who's never attended school before.

When buses drive by on El Camino Real, the RV shakes. Without electricity, charged computer and cellphone batteries are precious commodities. The family parks in one place as long as they can before a police officer inevitably shows up and leaves them a tow warning notice that gives them 72 hours to move the RV a half mile away or face an expensive citation.

The children in the Solorio family are among a small number of homeless students in Palo Alto Unified — 23, according to the district — whose living situations bring to light deep inequities at play with distance learning. When staff heard two weeks ago of students in RVs who were struggling to access the internet consistently, even with the district-provided hot spots, they installed wireless access points outside the district office and pointed them toward the motor homes on El Camino Real.

"There are people that need help and they need help in ways most people would be unaware exist in Palo Alto," Superintendent Don Austin said.

The Solorio family lived in San Jose before arriving in Palo Alto in February, just before the start of the pandemic, Noemi Solorio said in an interview conducted in Spanish. She was working in the food industry at the time. She worked in the afternoons while her husband worked in the mornings so at least one parent could be home with their children throughout the day.

Then shelter in place took effect. Her husband got laid off and her hours were cut. She later lost her job, but her husband found work again. They don't own the RV that's become their home but instead pay $700 a month in rent to the owner. She said those early months of the shutdown were "chaos" without the escape of a trip to the park or McDonald's.

Solorio's full-time job is now sitting with her youngest son, Jeremy, while he's on Zoom for school from 8 to 11:30 a.m. He didn't attend preschool, so he hasn't had any exposure to school and is having trouble adjusting, particularly with everything happening online. He's 5 years old and easily distracted — by his siblings, by his hunger, by wanting to kiss and hug his mother.

"It's his first year. He doesn't know you have to pay attention," she said. "He doesn't know there's a pandemic. He just wants to play and play and play. It's difficult for me."

She's worried that he's falling behind his classmates and that the teacher is progressing to concepts he doesn't understand.

"They're starting to want them to do sentences of two to three words, but how is he supposed to do that if he doesn't know the consonants or letters or sounds? How can the teacher want him to focus on entire words that he does not know?" she asked.

Solorio said it's been frustrating to see some of her children get marked absent or penalized when they lose their internet connection and miss class. She said she wishes there was more flexibility and communication with the teachers about their living situation. (She also asked for more compassion from the city about people living in RVs, who she feels are painted with an unfairly broad brush.)

The mother of four compared the foundation laid at the start of a new school year — and with Jeremy, the start of his K-12 education — to starting the day with a good breakfast. Without one, you're not as well set up for success, she said.

"If you start the day badly, it will end badly," she said. "It does worry me."

Last week, Solorio's two older children, who are 13 and 15 years old, returned to school in person for the first time since March as part of the district's new PAUSD+ program for high-need students. She had mixed feelings about them going.

"I'm happy but nervous. I'm happy because due to the situation I'm living in, they were not doing all of their classes completely. It's not a problem with them. It's a problem with the power" and not being able to charge their computers, she said. "But I'm nervous because I know the coronavirus is something serious."

As a mother, she said she'd prefer to keep her children home with her where she knows they're safe and can limit their exposure to the coronavirus. When her husband comes home from work, he disinfects as much as possible and leaves his shoes outside the RV.

They can't help but feel inadequate as parents, Solorio said, and are "fighting" to find a stable home to move into. Last week, the district told them they'd get a second hot spot, a request that takes about a week to process, though the district is prioritizing homeless students.

"We feel like bad parents. We want a good roof above our heads," she said. "But at the same time I thank God because I still have a roof for them and they're healthy."

The school district has paused plans to open PAUSD+ programs at all of the elementary schools given the district hopes to start to fully reopen schools in mid-October. Knowing, however, that there are still young students who need a supportive place to learn, the district is opening a pilot version of PAUSD+ at Addison Elementary School this Monday, Sept. 21. The program will serve no more than 14 kindergarten through fifth grade students from Addison, Walter Hayes and Duveneck elementary schools.

The district has reached out to parents of struggling elementary students and in particular ones who haven't been attending online classes, Lana Conaway, assistant superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs, said. She said at least two elementary students who live in RVs have signed up for the program.

"The objective is to get them in a place where there's reliable internet ... and to make sure there's someone who can be that additional person to ask questions of and making sure they're engaged and know(ing) where they need to go next," Conaway said.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

How can we help?
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 10:33 am
How can we help?, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 10:33 am
26 people like this

Palo Alto Weekly, how can we help this family?


Lauren Williams
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2020 at 12:22 pm
Lauren Williams, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 12:22 pm
25 people like this

Barbara Best at PAUSD deserves a big thank you for helping the Solorio family get registered for school - it was a true partnership to get that done! Kafenia and The Karat School Project also deserve huge kudos for supporting this family with regular outreach. Without their support, these children (and others) could have EASILY slipped through the cracks when school resumed in August. If anyone is interested in helping support the RV community more with outreach please Google "Karat School Project" to learn more. Evelyne has shifted her pre-COVID work to focus on helping those in most need in our community as well continuing to support children in the Ivory Coast.


DBM
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 1:20 pm
DBM, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 1:20 pm
17 people like this

Happy to buy the Solorio's some electronic gadgets that will improve internet connection in their RV and electric power packs for their children's computers. I'm willing to help up to 15 families if they are in the same dire straights. I don't know what contact protocol is but my cell is 650-245-2448. Text if I can help. Prefer not to have my name mentioned.


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 2:04 pm
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 2:04 pm
12 people like this

I’m so glad that you wrote this story and feel terribly sad for this family. This is the first time that I feel I’ve gotten to understand the situation behind at least one of the RV’s that I see parked on El Camino. This really humanizes the situation of this family. I’m so glad that the school district is helping with their WiFi connection, and the Karat School Project sounds interesting. Best wishes to this family during this difficult time!


Ohio39
Registered user
Stanford
on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm
Ohio39, Stanford
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm
1 person likes this

This makes me heart sick; to think it is happening in the great domain of Palo Alto ! The Karat School Project sounds worthy of a donation, but I want to be sure I am helping local students. Is there a better choice for a local donation?


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm
96 people like this

Why do their children have access to PAUSD? They are not paying Palo Alto taxes and are not residents of Palo Alto. We cannot educate just anyone who drives up in a vehicle.


CC
Registered user
Professorville
on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:44 pm
CC, Professorville
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:44 pm
47 people like this

As the article states, the family arrived in Palo Alto in February. They pay $700 rent to their landlord, who I assume is the person that bought the RV had it towed to El Camino Real. Palo Alto is one of the most expensive cities in the world. When I was a minimum wage worker, I lived in Central Valley where rent was low and the stores were cheap. I've also lived in the midwest before having a real reason and the means to move here.


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2020 at 10:21 pm
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 10:21 pm
51 people like this

@CC: They are paying rent for the RV, not for the plot on El Camino. No taxes are being paid. As you said, you didn't move to "one of the most expensive cities in the world" until you could afford it. If we couldn't pay our mortgage we would move to a less expensive area. That is what most reasonable people do.


Brenda Lee
Registered user
Mountain View
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:10 am
Brenda Lee, Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:10 am
10 people like this

How is renting from an RV different from renting a house for taxation purposes? Neither pay school taxes. Both types of renters choose to live in Palo Alto. Being older, let me say that along the border before border issues became propaganda often children would walk over from Mexico to be educated. They certainly didn't pay taxes. Border school districts decided it was wiser to educate those in their community whether living in the U.S. or Mexico because education benefits society. The other choice is to have uneducated children growing up to be uneducated adults.


Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:12 am
Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:12 am
4 people like this

Neighbors, thank you so much for caring. Karat School Project is leading (Kafenia Peace Collective supporting, Lauren and others) this effort! Evelyne will call you DBM. Whatever we do needs to be equitable for all the families. Give at KSP's Edu-Kits page (all funds go to RVs from this page): Web Link=


Barbara Weinstein
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:13 am
Barbara Weinstein, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:13 am
4 people like this

I involved with Kafenia and the Karat School Project. They are doing wonderful work to help these families who are struggling and just want the best for their children. I encourage you to donate generously. All the money that you donate here will go to help the RV families. Thank you! Web Link=


Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:35 am
Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:35 am
2 people like this

One last thing. If you want to see how to help - Email me - maryjane dot marcus @g. or [email protected] and I will connect you with our team/and Evelyne.


Eric
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Eric, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm
26 people like this

>> Why do their children have access to PAUSD? They are not paying Palo Alto taxes and are not residents of Palo Alto. We cannot educate just anyone who drives up in a vehicle.

By this reasoning, only children with a valid street address should be able to attend school. That's equivalent to arguing that homeless children do not have a right to an education. In my opinion that's a sad argument to be making. In our country, ALL children have a right to an education. While it may not seem fair to you, homeless people, and people living in RV's still have their rights, as do their children.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm
32 people like this

They “arrived here” from San Jose in February - really.
The rv rental scheme and on street parking of a rv is untenable.
In Houston they could have a nice apartment


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2020 at 4:01 pm
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 20, 2020 at 4:01 pm
25 people like this

[Post removed.]


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 21, 2020 at 1:01 pm
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 21, 2020 at 1:01 pm
21 people like this

For the 30 years we've lived in Palo Alto, the PAUSD has made efforts to weed out students attending Palo Alto schools that did not actually live (own or pay rent) in Palo Alto. Friends that had to move out due to various reasons were not able to have their children finish their schooling in Palo Alto. The justification was that if students didn't actually reside in Palo Alto the PAUSD would not/could not provide schooling.

So why is it suddenly OK for somone to drive over the city limits and now they are "owed" both a place to live, schooling and services?

/marc


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 21, 2020 at 1:51 pm
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 21, 2020 at 1:51 pm
16 people like this

@marc665: Exactly. The landlords in a house nearby were living in Los Altos but one early morning, PAUSD knocked on the Palo Alto door, looking for the children. Thus, the owners had to move back into the Palo Alto house. And the children said it was a relief, they no longer needed to lie and could resume playdates at home.

By educating the four Solorio siblings, they are using additional PAUSD resources that should go to other students.

Moreover, how is this equity? How about all the other underprivileged students in the U.S? This family basically won an education lottery.


Samuel L.
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Sep 21, 2020 at 4:48 pm
Samuel L., Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Sep 21, 2020 at 4:48 pm
11 people like this

@iSez,
23 homeless students amount to .20% of the the population. That's 1/5th of 1%.

An education lottery? Did you read the article? It does not sound like they moved to the RV for the school system.

Do their living conditions give you the feeling that they're in an ideal learning environment?

What part bothers you about this? Is it that they moved from San Jose? That they don't pay property taxes? Do you really think that the 23 homeless students in PAUSD have any impact on the education of the remaining 11975?




Eric
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm
Eric, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Sep 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm
8 people like this

The law on this (McKinney-Vento) is pretty clear and dates back to the Reagan Administration :

Web Link

>> We have a right to live in million dollar homes without homeless living in vehicles on our streets.
No, the law doesn't grant you that right. What you can do is try to convince the city council to implement additional overnight parking bans. But I think you'll find that such proposals are controversial.


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 1:43 am
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 1:43 am
11 people like this

@Samuel L: Good algebra calculations. Short of you labeling me an outright racist, what bothers me is that they are not residents of Palo Alto, and I mentioned that above. I don't care what their ethnicity, race or gender identity is, they are not residents of Palo Alto. And yes, I do think it impacts the other students because people (teacher or admin or teaching assistants) have to help the children which takes time away from other students. And our taxes are paying for it. They claimed that they had to move to Palo Alto from San Jose due to "shelter in place." San Jose was on lockdown too. They drove specifically to Palo Alto for the school system. As for their situation with the living conditions, someone should tell them to move outside of California and they could make a better life for their children. Why do we have to pay taxes but they don't?


EmmaP
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 22, 2020 at 7:31 am
EmmaP, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 7:31 am
5 people like this

They are more resident in Palo Alto than they are resident any where else and they have a legal right to an education. It is also in our interest as a society to see everyone receives a good education and not just those lucky enough to be born or adopted into the right families. If children don't get an education, they are far more likely to end up in prison and prison is expensive for the taxpayer. If they do get an education, they might become a doctor who saves your life or an engineer who helps develops a new breakthrough technology.

Note Palo Alto School District can and probably has requested federal monies for educating homeless children; it definitely receive both federal and state funding though I haven't looked into the details of for what. I certainly have no problem with my property taxes going to educate homeless children.


Samuel L
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:15 am
Samuel L, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:15 am
5 people like this

@iSez -
They did not claim they had to move here due to the shelter in place. They moved in February.
Under your system, in order to receive an education you must have an address and pay taxes. Correct?
What is your plan for the students in school that take up more than the average amount of a teacher's time in class? Have you ever talked to students at these schools or volunteered in a class? There are SO many students that need "extra attention". Do we cast.them off also and only educate the easy ones?
Where does it say they moved to Palo Alto "specifically for the school system"?

What qualifies someone as a "resident of Palo Alto"? My kids don't pay taxes, are they residents? Sure, I pay taxes, but it's the same amount if I have kids or not. What about a family with 10 kids that all need extra attention? Should they pay more because they take extra resources?


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 22, 2020 at 9:43 am
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 9:43 am
5 people like this

@Samuel L: A resident of Palo Alto is someone who owns or rents a dwelling within the limits of the PAUSD. Read this: Web Link).

No, it doesn't matter how many children there are. No it doesn't matter how smart they are. No it doesn't matter how much extra help they need. No, children are not expected to pay taxes as long as one of their guardians does.

The requirement is that they reside in Palo Alto. And that does NOT mean that they drove over the city limits and parked their car.


Michael O.
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:48 am
Michael O., Gunn High School
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:48 am
6 people like this

@iSez writes: "We have a right to live in million dollar homes without homeless living in vehicles on our streets. We'd all move to San Francisco if we wanted to be with the homeless." No sure if such a "right" exists. The housing market here is what the market will bear. I haven't seen housing prices drop because there are RVs on El Camino. Likely, in fact, that your house (if you even own one) is worth more since they started parking here a few years ago. [Portion removed.]


Michael O.
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:51 am
Michael O., Gunn High School
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:51 am
7 people like this

@marc665 didn't read the law, apparently. An RV parked in Palo Alto, as described in the article, most certainly is a residence under the statute that you posted the link to.


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm
8 people like this

[Post removed.]


Samuel L.
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:36 pm
Samuel L., Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:36 pm
5 people like this

@marc665 - Federal law allows RV's to qualify as your primary residence. So, sounds like they check that box. They also pay rent. Check.

"The requirement is that they reside in Palo Alto. And that does NOT mean that they drove over the city limits and parked their car." Actually, if they live in their car, it means exactly that.

Not sure why all the uproar over 23 students classified as homeless attending school in Palo Alto. Before this article came out, I doubt anyone thought it was an issue.

If anything, shouldn't there be a bit of egg on the face of PAUSD? How can they not make this situation better than just "pointing the routers towards El Camino"? How about a bit more proactive outreach such as from Barbara Best?


Mark
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Sep 24, 2020 at 1:38 pm
Mark, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2020 at 1:38 pm
2 people like this

I lived in a 24 years in a Dodge Commander RV for 5 very long years--adjacent to the S.P. tracks between Alma St across from Forest Ave --right down town --and worked for Ellison's Body Shop as painter from 7: am through 4:30 pm 6 days a week for 5 years . I went to Foot Hill College, De Anza and CSM, at night, for 4 long years --studying at Denny's until midnight every night because I had dim lights in the RV if I had them at all (batteries die) and no heat ever, no 110 current--12 volts only. When I got into calculus I had promised myself I would rent a place where I could study that had light and heat--

When I started calculus--I rented a home on Grove Avenue in Palo Alto and then rented out rooms to people while went to school for 2 more years full time at J.C.. I was ultimately accepted at U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School, U.C. Santa Barbara (Economics) and Santa Clara (Business). I choose Berkeley. I didn't apply to Stanford because they didn't offer an undergrad business program. I graduated from Cal in two 1/2 years and after 5 years working in auditing and tax preparation in Embarcadero one in SF--I moved back to Meno Park with my wife, then to Palo Alto where I currently live, I went to law school in Sacramento and graduated with a J.D. while managing our portfolio of rental properties--my wife and I purchased a duplex in 1995 in Menlo Park and lived in one side and rented the other. Next we purchased a 4 -plex in Palo Alto and on and on. We purchased income property before as house and purchased a house before we had a child--it doesn't make sense to me to have a child then try to purchase a house. But each their own. Good luck with that. For me it was first income property--live it and manage it- then a house--then kids. We leveraged up--now we own and manage 104 units.

My life in an RV: No heat. 12 volt electric, candles--the cars on Alma and the commuter trains really shook the RV and me--especially the long midnight freight train--1982 through 1987. It was very difficult--pretty much awful. But I was 25 years old and tough I rode my bike up in the hills on my time off.

Buzz Ellison and his wonderful family (Sheri and her husband now run Ellison's Towing)--put me on the map. RIP Buzz. He allowed me to live on his SP lot free of rent. I purchased the RV from him. His idea. Wonderful man. Great job. Wonderful family. I used his shower every day up stairs.

I'm sharing this because--while when I drive past those RVs now along El Camino--and I have an idea as to what that is like--it is blight however,. It's also on public roadways. That's different than driving onto private property --out of the way--and living there. It is possible to rent a place for RVs to sit --at mobile home parks in the area-- last I checked. How many RVs parked on our roadways is enough? Or how many of same are too many? The reality is that these people have options other than living on a public roadway. Palo Alto, very likely, has options other than to allow RVs on public roadways; for example--we could subsidize an RV space on a lottery system for example or need perhaps. We have one options.

It seems like on balance some restrictions need to be in place. I don't know what those would or should be. I don't pay attention to what's going on in anyone else's life. I have hard enough time managing own. But--I saved enough to put myself through 4 years of college fun time and would have had plenty to start a business with or purchase a home with had a woman I lived with and who I purchased a home with had not taken it from me through lying, and misrepresentation. She's now moved on to her next victim in Portola Valley--he just doesn't know it yet. Poor sap. I sued her of course. I got part of it back--she purchased a house in Palo Alto with what I couldn't get back without talking her to court and going through a trial.--or settling later. I've learned so much since then. Bad people are everywhere. It's a food chain. We're in it.

BUT--there are people in those little RV tin cans in Palo Alto who either can't pay rent--or refuse to pay rent. They're people like me, who come from nothing, and want a better life than a broken social security system to rely on when they're old and are thinking outside the box and are struggling the best they can to do that.



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.