Houses of worship get ready to welcome vehicle dwellers | January 17, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 17, 2020

Houses of worship get ready to welcome vehicle dwellers

Following city decision, local churches and temples can offer parking lots for overnight residential parking

by Jonathan Guillen and Gennady Sheyner

For Peninsula Bible Church, the increasingly prominent issue of people living in their cars is more than just a citywide problem: It's personal. Several members of the church use their cars as housing, so the congregation knows firsthand the challenges that come with being a working professional while homeless, including finding safe parking at night and access to restrooms.

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Editorial Intern Jonathan Guillen and Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at [email protected] and [email protected]


47 people like this
Posted by Question about noise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:39 am

Will Palo Alto's anti-idling law be enforced?

Some of the RVs or vehicles run their generators or engines for long periods of time during the night which is likely to disturb the residents of nearby homes. The parking lots of some churches in Palo Alto are very close to homes adjacent to the parking lots.

52 people like this
Posted by Question about sanitation
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2020 at 5:38 am

Where will these people dump their waste tanks from their toilets and sinks?
Or, where will they have use of a shower and toilet?
I have seen RVs dump into the sewers at Walmart and also into storm drains on residential streets in Old Palo Alto.
Isn't this risky since we are already dealing with roaches, rats, and other vermin in this community now?
Also, there is always an ongoing battle against bacterial and viral diseases.
It seems that we are going backwards in sanitation, and we may well face problems like plague (from rats) and other diseases.
Bedbugs, lice.
The laundrymats used to be a place where I would occasionally take my family's comforters. I am now wondering where a clean place would be to take them.
Clearly, this is going to impact our community in many ways.
I know of some states which are trying to reopen closed prisons to house the homeless. They are doing fundraisers for them in the community.

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2020 at 7:26 am

I wonder just how many churches/religious institutions we have in Palo Alto with a parking lot and how many parking spaces are in each lot? I know some churches do have quite large lots, but some are very small. Driving along Middlefield Road, there seem to be quite a number in south Palo Alto and it is hard to see from the street just how big the lots are.

Is there any way information on this can be collected?

4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 14, 2020 at 8:31 am

^ Yes, Resident. You can begin with Google Maps, Satellite view (aerial photo actually). Search "church" and zoom in. Resolution is quite sufficient to count parking spaces. Then search synagogue, temple, convent, mosque, etc. Let us know your results!

13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 14, 2020 at 8:52 am

A great start!!!!
But let’s move quickly in doing more to advance the program.
Vice Mayor DuBois git it right at the end of the evening when he declared it “a great council meeting “ approving funds for the Wilton court affordable project and a start to safe parking program.
As usual he showed what a great leader and thinker he is, we are lucky to have him and Kou, who authored the colleagues memo fir this and the recent renter protection law, on council!!!

50 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 14, 2020 at 9:08 am

There’s a problem, but this isn’t the answer.
I don’t believe this is tenable.
Can anyone honestly believe this can function appropriately?
I see this attracting ever more people/vehicles here. I see police resources needing to be deployed to these places.
Disagreements/fights, alcohol/drug abuse, mental health episodes, theft of bicycles and stuff out of nearby yards, dumping of sewage and trash in an illegal and unclean manner. Blight.
I see risks to youth - and this is a family filled suburb not a gritty downtown near bus depots, soup kitchens - since kids are directed to walk and bike to/from school.
Public safety and public health are crucial questions here.

22 people like this
Posted by Pamela Chesavage
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 14, 2020 at 9:43 am

I'm very pleased to see that Palo Alto is in yet one more way, allowing its community members to get to know and to support the unhoused. Our city currently permits a year-round co-ed shelter that is hosted by local churches and run by LifeMoves, and one winter (Dec-early April) women's shelter hosted by local churches and run by a non-profit called Heart and Home. But in total, these shelters can only stabilize 35 individuals at one time - and as we know, there are far, far more people in our city that need the kind of support that can lead to housing stability. For those of you who are worried about unhoused people being "unsafe", or "unclean", I would encourage you to get involved with the currently sheltered individuals - I can tell you that you will find many great people who now that they are stabilized can do the hard work of looking for jobs, or getting mental health or rehab help (if needed), or volunteering in the community or spending their days productively in other ways now that they are getting sleep and they don't have to worry about where to get their next meal (hosting churches provide foods for breakfasts and lunches). They are supported by church and community volunteers (at Heart and Home) and by a couple regular volunteers and a Program/Case Manager at LifeMoves, but both programs would be thrilled to have more people involved regularly (1-2x a week) so that they actually get to know and can help with the needs of the residents. This type of stability and volunteer support is CRUCIAL in helping many of these individuals move forward, as many have suffered severe setbacks in their lives and need the love, care and encouragement of those around them to move forward. Churches (and their members) willing to host vehicle dwellers are in a position to help care for those they host and be a support to them, and the fact that the program participants will be vetted, supported by and supervised by a non-profit organization's case manager means that those who are chosen to participate will more likely be able to work towards finding stable housing. I applaud the city's movement to do more for those who are currently trying to survive without a bed to sleep in and a kitchen to cook in - it's the least we can do for the unhoused in our community.

58 people like this
Posted by choices
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 14, 2020 at 9:56 am

Pamela, while your empathy is admirable your ideology is sincerely misplaced. How in any way can it be CHARITABLE to encourage someone to continue to live in an area which is incredibly out of their level of affordability? You are very simply setting them up for a life of continued frustrations and struggle.

If you truly want to give love, care and encouragement, you should be counseling them on making smart choices, albeit tough ones. Does this mean they have to leave somewhere they’ve perhaps lived all their lives? Probably. Does this mean they have to leave family? Possibly. Does this mean they need to do a complete re-set on their lives? Yes.

In the history of the world humans have moved, left for greener pastures, better opportunity. Families have split, never to see or speak to each other again...fortunately in our day and age we have phones, FaceTime.

Stop this insane Commentary on “affordable housing” in one of the most expensive cities in the world! Stop setting people up and creating unachievable expectations! Help them truly better their lives and counsel them on making SMARTER CHOICES.

11 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 10:36 am

As in the Great Depression, there are millions of individual stories behind the displaced. Living on the streets is such a challenging and dismal circumstance worthy of the communities best efforts.
Allowing people to live in cars is a terrible, terrible idea fraught with complications and certain to produce more regret than relief.
Who is the population that the Generous Council is trying to help? If these are laborers from our cafes or our nannies or gardeners or the poor code warriors that have no means to rent then the city, and other cities on the Peninsula need to enact taxes and float bonds to build housing. Yes, everyone at the top needs to pitch in to provide for housing the workforce because providing housing is a worker, family, community issue and the greedy at the top need to provide for this.
Those who own houses rejoice when commerce in town expands - it's been that way since the glory days of Fry's and with each record sale of a home. Those people are getting gains far out of proportion to their tax obligations. And while they gain, they have not wanted - for many reasons - building housing sufficient to meet the employment expansion.
Perhaps too harsh. But NOT providing for adequate transit and NOT providing for adequate housing is a big pain and a constant headache for everyone in the region.
Among the homeless are those who are priced out of the market because their humble professions cannot compete with the excessive compensations offered to Big Brother tech workers. That fraction of the homeless is not helped by permission to live in their cars behind a church. That is no solution. Look at the photo at the top of this story - that's a bad idea.
The same people who created the mess on El Camino now wants people in Church parking lots. It's crazy.
Major cities have long histories of supplemental housing - it's necessary because that level or housing doesn't get built without public initiatives. Palo Alto has had a number of successful initiatives for affordable housing over the decades.
While necessary for PA to do more, as other towns need to do more, it's also necessary to find the right balance between housing the workforce and it's families and taking on the broader challenge of California's massive homeless population. PA should not be trying to house everyone because that group will require far more that the city can provide.
If the Valley has a next wave of success with medical and bio technologies after it's grand pc and web period followed by it's it's predatory and socially destructive Facebook period, then it needs to solve the housing problem. That will be good for everyone. There is lot's of work in progress but thus far, as we know, we still lag far behind the needs. Time to do better.

8 people like this
Posted by PAResident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

Let's not assume these are individuals who are not responsible or are on drugs, etc. Some of these people are nurses, first responders, waiters, etc. (people you probably interact with on a daily basis) that can't afford to live in the area and don't want to be super commuters. For some, living in an RV is a better option than spending 4 hours on the road, especially after a 12-hour shift, or after spending time at a 2nd job. Yes, there are deep issues when it comes to housing in the Bay Area, but it's not just about only serving the mentally ill, or drug addicts, it's also about meeting the needs of hard-working individuals that just can't afford a $1-2million starter home, or $3-4K rent.

22 people like this
Posted by Martha Dogood
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 11:23 am

The solution is not that complicated, yet it will take long term commitment to far more practical solutions than the current leftist dysfunctional enablement policies that have resulted in the current statewide homeless crisis throughout California.

First step, the entire peninsula local and county governments need massive reinvention and reform. Our local governments have become isolated fiefdoms of bloated and inefficient bureaucracies. Through consolidating most local and county services, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties could save millions of dollars.

Secondly, an immediate and medium term solution must require a census of these people. Who are they and what do they need? Generally, the homeless fit in 3 broad categories: 1) the down on their luck who are not chronic substance abusers and don’t suffer chronic mental illness - they are the easiest to help, they need a short term housing situation so they can get back on their feet, 2) those that suffer serious life long mental illness which requires long term treatment, they need very specialized care and housing, good jobs suited to them, they can help in many ways keep towns clean and beautiful, gardening for countywide beatification. Rewarding manual work is very good for their body and mind. 3) the most difficult to help, the substance abusers, drug addicts, many of them are suffering more mild mental illness (anxiety, depression, mild paranoia/schizophrenia). They must be required to detox and be in rehab as part of receiving housing and put on strict path to reenter society productively.

Each population category above need different programs and services.

These are far more compassionate solutions than letting these populations live in squalor on our streets and public spaces, destroying our communities in the process. It’s not compassionate to enable this for either them or those of us who wish to raise our families here.

The problems this promotion of living in cars throughout Palo Alto will create far out number the benefits, as many above have detailed.

In the short term, the city needs to first find out who they are and start planning how to serve them in cooperation with region wide efforts, otherwise were playing “whack a mole.” If any of these homeless people are working, they get priority to get some form of housing so they can remain and be productive here long term. For the many, likely majority, who are not employed and are perhaps unlikely to find employment or sustainable situations here, it may be better for them to relocate to less expensive areas in the country. Do any of us even know how many are from Santa Clara county or Bay Area? No one seems to have a handle on who they all are. If our city council knows they certainly haven’t communicated this.

Finally, another major trend in our region since 2000 has been the massive influx of foreign money inflating housing. When Silicon Valley first grew in the 1950s through 1980s, it was mostly through influx of American tech workers from across the USA relocating here, along with the big post war population migration (soldiers returning and staying here, rather than returning to Kansas). That was a very scalable growth situation since everyone was mostly employed and housing was affordable. Palo Alto was always expensive, but you could get a nice home in Santa Clara and commute. For decades this region needed to plan for rezoning and building up at the core centers, they did not and this is the result.

Bottom line: You can’t solve a problem until you know what it is. Then, you need to design a workable and practical solution, not one that simply enables it to get bigger. It’s very similar to enabling an alcoholic or any other dysfunctional behavior. Time for tough love and compassionate conservative solutions.

And yes, send the bill to Facebook, Google and Apple.

15 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 12:24 pm

As long as stupid legislation such as SB-50, SB-330 and all those ADU/JADU laws are imposed, people at a disadvantage will find a way to have shelter. The likes of Scott Weiner, Nancy Skinner, Adrian Fine, Liz Kniss, Alison Cormack, Marc Berman, Gavin Newsom, David Chiu, Phil Ting are developer shills and using our cities/communities for real estate speculation.

And don't you worry, with "must approve" ADU laws which prohibits parking restrictions, the parking on the public streets will be filled and there won't be parking for vehicle dwellers. Big vehicle or small vehicle.

34 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 14, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I love the idea of getting occupied RVs off of Palo Alto streets - whether relocating them to church parking lots or near construction sites at Stanford or on city property near the Baylands.

This article doesn't discuss whether, as a companion to opening up legal, off street places to park overnight, the city will also now start enforcing our laws we already on the books which say it is illegal to sleep and live in RV's on public streets.

If not - you know what will happen - this new very well meaning rule will just bring MORE inhabited RVs to Palo Alto - it's basic economics - if you make something easier and cheaper, woohoo free overnight RV parking, people will simply consume more of it.

Did the council think about this at all - without moving occupied RVs off the streets in addition to opening parking lots, we will end up with occupied RVs in both places...

23 people like this
Posted by Okay, but..
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Slum lords own most of these RVs - only registered owners should be allowed to reside in the RVs. And sanitation is an issue that hasn’t been addressed. How much illegal dumping is the community willing to tolerate?

8 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Palo Alto: Stymies new housing for the last forty years.

Low-wage worker: Sleeps in car.

Palo Alto: Tries to stymie that too.

Me: Really?!

20 people like this
Posted by Fun
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Palo Altans: Pay property taxes to build roads for driving, biking, and short-term parking.

Vagrants: Move to Palo Alto to illegally squat in vehicles on Palo Alto roads, dumping sewage and creating hazards for drivers and bikers.

Palo Altans: Demand that illegal vehicles be removed.

This is fun. Your turn.

14 people like this
Posted by Reality here
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Don't be ridiculous. This area has been unaffordable even during down times when there have been lots of vacancies. No one is responsible for knowing that large companies would get so large and would treat this area like some kind of clown car for their workers.

If you truly care about affordable housing, we should do two things:
1) do what is necessary in order to increase the number of tech job centers in California. For example, Stockton wants a UC to avoid the brain drain of their best young people leaving, and they have affordable housing and an interest in civic investments to revitalize it. Where else could we be making nice places that would first entice the interesting people who are fleeing places like SF BECAUSE OF THE OVERDEVELOPMENT DISPLACING PEOPLE, and then tech companies interested in nice places that would attract their workers?

Believing you can solve this problem on the supply side is to ignore everything about this area since it became a job center many decades ago, and everything about what has happened in other concentrated job centers like SF and Hong Kong. New housing development will not solve this problem, development and loosening zoning (e.g., what happened at the President Hotel and almost happened at BV) is CAUSING it.

7 people like this
Posted by Reality here
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm

2) the state should support cities being able to buy up their major retail areas so that over time, cities can leverage lower rents in exchange for competitive wages for traditionally lower paid workers. The beauty of doing this is that it becomes more and more valuable to cities over time, without costing more. This is the only way to retain economic diversity. This is ultimately far cheaper than constantly being on the hook for subsidizing the ills foisted on the area by goliath companies.

We should also be supporting ONLY affordable housing development and taxing larger companies to pay for it.

14 people like this
Posted by Cars OK - RVs NO NO NO
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Its totally compassionate to use a religious parking lot to let someone safely live in a car while transitioning to permanent housing. This is especially useful if the program includes counselling and assistance to move from car to housing.

What I am 100% against is permitting RV housing on these religious lots. The issue with RVs is that once someone moves to the free or very low cost RV situation, they have little incentive to move to traditional housing. Thus, by accommodating RVs on religious parking lots, we perpetuate the problem by allowing more RV space for on-street cam

I can foresee a time when we will force a ballot measure to create zones with "no overnight parking" based on the votes of majority property holders in each zone. Unfortunately, our elected officials are deaf to the vast majority of resident's displeasure with the scourge of on-street RV campers in Palo Alto.

As typical in Palo Alto, a few very loud and passionate voices who appear at council meetings seem to sway our elected officials more than the actual underlying opinions of the residence.

10 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 2:52 pm

@ Cars OK - RVs NO NO NO ...... your last sentence says it all.

20 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 2:53 pm

When you reward non-productivity, you get more non-productivity. Applies to many scenarios including this one.

9 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Bottom line - this issue aside, a city resident should be able to park an RV in front of their house temporarily, and in their own driveway or backyard for as long as they damn well please. I've never understood that one.

Car campers on public streets is an issue that is more complicated. Some of the pictures used in these articles are not normal situations. At this point there have gotten to be a lot more RVs out there - too many. Renting an RV for money to someone for profit should be a crime. Maybe parking a not-paid-for RV on public streets for the purposes of living here should also. Parking an owner-owned and paid for roadworthy RV on street temporarily and staying out of trouble should not be a crime.

6 people like this
Posted by Crime & Punishment
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Among the homeless there are two additional types...those living in cars/RVs and those living on the streets.

Palo Alto and other communities should try to accommodate the homeless RVs (to a certain but manageable extent) but eradicate the homeless people living on the streets as they are an even bigger eyesore + they annoy others by their mere presence and/or incoherent ramblings.

39 people like this
Posted by joe
a resident of University South
on Jan 14, 2020 at 4:08 pm

The solution is simple. If you cant afford to live in the area you need to move out. I couldn't afford the bay area so I moved to the central valley. yes, the traffic sucks but no one is entitled to live where they work. I drive every day into the bay because I would rather take care of my family and give them a respectable place to live, versus living in an RV and dumping Shi* in front of people's homes or businesses. Grow up people and learn how to live within your means or find a different place to live. If you think that's too hard I challenge anyone to go live in a third world country. You will realize what being poor really means.

19 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2020 at 4:40 pm

@ joe....thank you. Your post is spot on and a reflection of reality.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2020 at 4:44 pm

The reason I asked about the number of Churches that qualify is that when you multiply that by x 4, we get an idea of just how many vehicles could be placed in the parking lots. Then we need to subtract the number of cars already being used as sleeping places, to see if this is going to help the problem or make it worse with more cars coming to Palo Alto than the number of places.

18 people like this
Posted by MV tried this
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 14, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Mountain View tried to get people to sign up for a very similar program. They have room for dozens and dozens of RVs in a few locations such as the end of shoreline near the amphitheater. The hours are approximately the same. As of the last publication in the MV Voice, 1 RV has signed up.

One of the reasons for this is that when the RVs move, they lose their spot. It’s hard to get another one. Also, many of them simply cannot move their vehicles. Also, a rule for the MV program is that your RV can’t leak oil or poop. This is another problem.

The MV program has also hit some insurance snafus that has currently halted the whole program for now. It’s due to these reasons (among my own opinion that I don’t think we should encourage everyone to stay living in the most expensive area in the country when opportunity awaits everywhere else for a better life) that I don’t have much hope in this program.

20 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2020 at 7:44 pm

It is a terrible idea. No one has been able to answer the question, "Why are RVs special?" The fact is, they are a terrible, wasteful, inefficient way to build housing. The only reason they seem to be "affordable" is because they are using other people's land to park. If that land really isn't needed, then, build real housing there. There are plenty of low-income people who live in one of the many low-income housing developments around, including right here in Palo Alto. If there is suitable land not needed for other purposes, sell it to a low-income housing nonprofit.

4 people like this
Posted by Choices????
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 15, 2020 at 8:46 am

To choices: And yes Germany gave their Centuries old Jewish population and residents choices too. Leave now or else. . . Discrimination breeds contempt and intolerance and can have tragic dyer consequences as we are seeing on our very Bay Area streets. I find your comments not only jarring but contributing to the very issue.

"In the history of the world humans have moved, left for greener pastures, better opportunity. Families have split, never to see or speak to each other again...fortunately in our day and age we have phones, FaceTime." Really? More Internet crushing ignorance.

"Stop this insane Commentary on “affordable housing” in one of the most expensive cities in the world! Stop setting people up and creating unachievable expectations! Help them truly better their lives and counsel them on making SMARTER CHOICES." This is short of "Work will set you Free" Smarter choices is for you to choose accept that there is a wage imbalance and not enough of the 2% era sharing their wealth or taking action in helping those less fortunate life long residents and people here, now.

10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:30 am

Posted by Choices????, a resident of Greenmeadow

>> To choices: And yes Germany gave their Centuries old Jewish population and residents choices too. Leave now or else. . . Discrimination breeds contempt

I feel contempt for those who are selling RVs as an urban housing option. People need to be given real choices to live in real housing.

6 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 15, 2020 at 12:34 pm

I agree with Joe's comments above. Feelings of entitlement are often times misplaced.

However, we can help solve the problem by developing excellent, effective and efficient train and bus transportation systems. It is a flexible solution that can be adjusted as times change. It also spreads the risk of overdevelopment to a wider area.

I want to see workers from all areas of business benefit from good, affordable housing and first-class education, and a solid, highly functional transportation system can provide both.

15 people like this
Posted by Looks Good on Paper
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:25 pm

For argument's sake, let's start with premise that we're all compassionate people and would like to help people in need.

Now, with that said, I would love to see how the logistics of these proposals on paper will be implemented in reality. My understanding after reading the fine print of the proposal that will be discussed at city council is that neighbors within 600 feet of the parking lot have to agree, no more than four cars at once, cars planning to use the lot for the night may arrive no earlier than 6pm and must leave the parking lot no later than (forget time maybe it was 7am or 8am), parking lot overnight guests must have access to toilet/showers if available, etc.

I belong to a house of worship lobbying to participate in this program. Yet I don't dare ask the following questions for fear of being labeled "someone who is not compassionate": who will decide which four cars get to park in the house of worship's lot each and every night, weekdays/weekends, forever? who is going to ask every car that enters the lot after 6pm when there are many evening functions used by multiple parties if they are planning to spend the night there? who will be on "night duty" to monitor the number of cars overnight and be responsible for turning away cars when it reaches four? how will parking lot "guests" be monitored entering in the building to use bathrooms with house of worship members who are adults/children also using the facilties? will this mean the house of worship has a permanent portapotty in the lot? who will monitor any debris left behind? who will be responsible for asking a parking lot guest to leave if they exceed the allowable time limit in the morning or just plain doesn't ever move their car? is a house of worship member going to volunteer every day and night to monitor all these factors? who will have to intervene on behalf of the house of worshp if neighbors have an issue, which now puts the house of worship in a tenuous position with their community?

I personally would not volunteer for any of these duties which could put me in an unsafe situation or a police-like role. These duties would be far from why I joined a house of worship.

Maybe I'm wrong, and this proposal can work. But it sounds like lots of conflict waiting to happen and unintended consequences.

19 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:29 pm

The city of Mountain View was planning to have city property set aside for parking and then the city insurance company pulled out and considers this a high risk effort - so no insurance for the MV city for those lots.

So what does PA do? It passes the insurance liability onto non-government entities - which is what a church is. The churches are not special in "insurance world". And does this mean that the church must be open 24 hours for the people too use the bathrooms and kitchens?

I am wondering why the City of PA is not designating their own land for this project.They are side stepping the insurance liability and passing that on to other entities.

If the church is willing to buy into this so be it. But having people at night in the neighborhood who have no identity or affiliation with anyone is a problem in the making.

Are the public bathrooms at the parks open 24 hours? At least they could park at a city park and have use of facilities. How about the garage under the city hall when it is raining - then they could use the bathrooms in city hall.

And Crescent park thinks it is okay for people to park their RV's on the street in Crescent Park? Those are very narrow streets - if an RV was on the street then regular traffic would be impaired. And the neighbors angry and calling up the police.

We currently have an increase of crime against people going on - home invasions, car robberies, some assaulted on the street for their phones.
So people are addressing a political issue with no regard for all of the complicating issues of human behavior - which is not so good right now.

19 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:18 pm

This will not end well.

8 people like this
Posted by Old Palo,Alto
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:20 pm

How does one get on the list?
What are the criterion for who is selected?
Who decides? Appeal process?
What bad behavior requires one leaving?
Who decides?
Can churches lose tax exemption?

Does this count as a “core religious” activity
Or a “noncore” activity for purposes of zoning and use permits?

26 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 15, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Can't afford Palo Alto? MOVE! Its that simple.

20 people like this
Posted by Property values
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 7:00 pm

So the values of the properties located close to churches will drop down significantly.
I predict lawsuits...

Posted by not drones
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards

on Jan 15, 2020 at 7:33 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

25 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:12 pm

Live and work in an area you can afford. If you can't afford it - move. It really is that simple. 95% of America is more affordable than Palo alto. What part of this don't they understand?

4 people like this
Posted by Native Palo Altan
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:23 pm

In response to one who presumptuously names himself "Property Values":

You would have us believe that you are concerned about property values in Palo Alto, but that seems disingenuous given the history of property value in Palo Alto. Not even the relatively new phenomenon of parked cars lining residential streets has brought down the property values. Once upon a time houses weren't stuffed with adult drivers, very few houses contained residents who had to park on the street. The houses that did were those with teenage drivers and those teenagers moved on after a few years. Now it appears to be a permanent state, clearly due to the cost of housing.

Feigning concern over property values in Palo Alto sounds like the work of an irrational troll or someone who purposefully seeks to spread discord.

People who could afford to purchase are rich enough not to be put out if the value of their property fails to double within 10 years.

Since the cars or RVs are to be parked in a church parking lot in limited or severely limited numbers, I don't see how anyone could believe it will substantially impact the neighbor's property value. Surely, you can come up with a better argument against supporting the homeless in Palo Alto?!

It's amazing how smart Palo Altans are, yet how stupid the commentary can be.

31 people like this
Posted by wages
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:25 pm

Minimum wage in Tracy is $11, in Palo Alto it is $15. Housing is correspondingly more affordable in Tracy and nearby Central Valley communities. The solution many have chosen is to work in high-wage Silicon Valley locales like Palo Alto during the week and stay for free in an illegally parked RV, then commute to home in Tracy/Manteca, etc on the week-end.

7 people like this
Posted by @Native Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 16, 2020 at 3:25 pm

I (and it seems quite a few more readers) happen to think that Property Values is correct.
You, on the other hand, are unnecessarily combative and are trying to silence the truth by using inflammatory words and unfairly accusing Property Values of trying to sow discord, etc.
(such accusations aping the disingenous approach favored by some sad politicians)
As to you stating that Palo Altans make stupid comments - that applies precisely to your post and your feeble attempt to add reasoning to your vitriol (assuming you are truly a Palo Altan and not some "sour grapes" jealous impostor)

10 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2020 at 3:37 pm

This has a lot to do with liability for damage and who is paying for it. The city at this point has not designated city or county property for this effort. It is looking for private or commercial entities who are required to have insurance liability in order to occupy any property. If the city has a requirement then the city needs to respond to that on it's own dollar - not everyone else's dollar.
As to people sleeping in their cars on the street they leave trash and human waste. If the city allows that then the city is pushing off the liability for damages. They do not get to say they are "compassionate' when they are not taking responsibility for allowing this to happen.

8 people like this
Posted by banes
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 16, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Homeless Parking
yes, the waste disposal / toxic plumbing IS a health problem and will grow exponentially.
It's not obvious yet, wait until someone's child gets ill.
It will certainly taint the curb appeal, probably bring down real estate values in certain areas.

3 people like this
Posted by Charles king
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 16, 2020 at 10:15 pm

We have long advocated RV use for this since 2008 and thank god that time has come...SEWER is the dirty word...wherber on street in car RV or mansion sewer is going to be a problem...

7 people like this
Posted by Room for All!
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2020 at 10:54 am

I currently live in an RV in Oakland having recently moved from Chicago for a better quality of life and more job opportunities. Also the weather is so much better here. I have found the RV encampments in Oakland to be too rough. Are the new RV parks in Palo Alto available for everyone or just people who are originally from Palo Alto? Several of my RV neighbors in Oakland are considering caravanning to Palo Alto soon.

4 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2020 at 11:19 am

Room for All - The weather in CA is definitely better than Chicago, but if you're living in an RV encampment in Oakland, I wouldn't call that "better quality of life." Good luck to you...

12 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 17, 2020 at 12:27 pm

When I read the note from Oakland that says a caravan of RV's is going to come over to PA I have to wonder how our city gets the word out to all kinds of people who are not in the proximity of the city. And it is very disturbing when they say it is too rough over there and they are not making any move to calm that location. If that many people who are living there why don't they complain to Mayor Libby Schaff and Gov. Newsome? If they cannot manage their environment then why should we have RV people roaming around in our city. What is worse they are in a different county than PA so we are talking about funds allocated for this type effort being allocated on one basis then not utilized in the manner approved.

Oakland - complain to the city and use the county money allocated to that location. COMPLAIN to Libby Schaff.
Palo Alto - quite the compassion act - this is out of control. We are complaining now PA - enough is enough.

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Posted by perspective
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2020 at 8:34 am

With the concentration of fine minds in the area, aren't there any options to add a second (and third) storey to commercial buildings for further housing. Further analysis here:

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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 18, 2020 at 9:12 am

The city of SF is now looking at buildings owned by organizations which are no longer viable to take over and convert to housing. At least they are making some good steps forward which also removes the problem of buildings that have no usage which contributes to blight.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 18, 2020 at 1:57 pm

So back to the person from Chicago who calls himself "Room for All". So someone makes a major move with no job prospects and from all places CHICAGO and can't deal with the Oakland RV camp. Go figure that. And expects us all to be delighted that they all want to come to PA to camp out here.

My first impression is that the Gov is busy making "audacious" statements touting all he is doing and making sure his picture is in the paper with Libby in Oakland. The problem with audacious comments is that it is pure theater. But because those comments get in the paper then "build it and they will come" - words only - not actions.

The next problem is that our county supervisors get on board with this and advertise what they are doing with no specific facts. Since election time is coming up everyone has to put their best "theatre" on.

RWC approaches this problem with putting printed instructions on RV's that say what the ground rules are and where they can go. NO THEATRE. And it works with no fanfare.

Maybe our county people should keep their mouths closed until they have formalized a plan and have the funding in place to make it happen.

That goes for Mr. Weiner - SB 50 - who is now hated by the SF Board of Supervisors who have no interest in Sacramento telling them what to do.

So we now have "audacious", a move to take over the state city activity, and control the state activity through the audacious state gov in Sacramento - a picture of purity with the homeless who camp on the state capital grounds.
Do us all a favor and quit depicting this the state of opportunity because it sounds good. All pure theatre. Not working.

7 people like this
Posted by Regional Homeless Housing Need Allocation (RHHNA)
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2020 at 7:55 pm

This is not going to end well. I fear if we build it more will come. If one is living in an RV why would you choose to live in Oakland as opposed to a more affluent community with better services such as Palo Alto, Mountain View, etc? If it was me I would choose Palo Alto! Especially if you have kids. The law allows RV dwellers to enroll their kids in whatever district their RV is parked in. Does the same apply for City services such as library community centers etc? I believe Mountain View has a nonprofit screen people for income level, etc. gives preference to people whose last physical address was in Mountain View for their popup RV parks. Perhaps we should consider a similar screening process.

At the regionnal/State level maybe there should be a program to spread things around. For example in addition to the RHNA (Regionnal Housing Need Allocation) there could be a RHHNA (Regionnal Homeless Housing Need Allocation) that would tell each city/county in the State what proportion of the States total homeless population they are responsible for accomidating. In that way each community could do their fair share to accomidate the homeless.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Many of these concepts being touted assume the city is following through with basic control over the city. It is beginning to appear that the city has no control and is being driven by the county and state politicos.

Example - there is a broken down car on the street that I have reported to the city for three weeks now. I call it in - nothing happens. No call back. Are old broken down cars going to be littering the city residential streets with no notice to anyone? No Action?

I called one time about a RV in an inappropriate place on a main thoroughfare intersection in a residential area and the police responder said that the PACC told them to leave all of these types complaints alone.

So people within the city are making up whatever they want and telling that to what the police will waste time on?
That does not forebode well for the overnight church people -no assurance of police control when things go wrong - which they will. I recall one church in area had items stolen- their musical equipment from people they were trying to help.
You keep making up programs that assume all participants will function in a grateful and compliant manner. But that is not what happens. The city is losing it's fallback security for the residents who are law abiding and trying to do the right thing.
From now on we need to question all of these programs before they get launched and find out what the back-up security is in place. The city has to assume liability for what they allow to happen.

10 people like this
Posted by Woke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Said it before and will say it again. When are you people going to wake up. YOU, liberal Democrats, have voted in the politicians making these decisions for the last 50 years. Your and their ideologies and policies are ROTTING this state. Along with the developers who are lobbying for false “housing issues”.

It is wonderful to want to help people. But sometimes compassion means taking a tough stance and making really tough calls. One of those would be getting RVs off the streets, allowing living in an RV is NOT compassionate. Another call would be rounding up the homeless, identifying their needs (mental healthcare, drug addiction etc) and putting them in homes and treating it. Allowing people to live in streets in filth and squalor is NOT compassionate, it’s cruel.

Wake up. Stop this kumbayah crap and start dealing with these issues!

5 people like this
Posted by Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 21, 2020 at 2:14 pm

You know the story about the babies in the river, right? How people were horrified to see babies floating in the river and started wading in, trying to scoop up each one and bring them to safety. But the babies kept coming, faster than they could be rescued. Finally someone on the riverbank said, "Come with me. A few of us are going to go upstream to find out who's throwing these babies in the river!"

Through our economic policies, which funnel the resources of most Americans' work and talent into the bank accounts of the richest, we keep tossing people into the river. And every time the situation worsens, we appeal to religious organizations and other non-profits to rescue them.

As a congregation, we have worked on housing issues since our founding, and will keep doing what we can to provide meals and temporary shelter for those who suffer the most from our terrible policies. But as every social service agency and nonprofit will tell you, the suffering long ago exceeded what charity can fix.

It's past time to go upstream and stop throwing all these people into the river. And we as a religious community will be focusing on the source of the problem, not just on its victims.

2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Posted by Woke, a resident of Mountain View

>> Said it before and will say it again. When are you people going to wake up. YOU, liberal Democrats, have voted in the politicians making these decisions for the last 50 years.

I'm a liberal and I know a bunch of liberals. I don't know a single one who thinks RVs are a viable approach to housing. This whole "thing" is driven by developers from beginning to end, and they entrain a few naive "useful idiots" along the way to provide cover.

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