Homeless are roused out of Cubberley

Account of Police action against the homeless community that has been staying around Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto.

Last night at around 10:20 p.m. a couple of Palo Alto police showed up at the Cubberley Community Center with orders for all the homeless to leave by Monday night or face “citations” if they are still hanging around.

This is a reaction by the new administrator at Cubberley who wants to punish the innocent for the actions of a few. Yes, there are some “bad apples” in the homeless community who do unsociable things, but those who don’t do these un-sociable thing now have to suffer for the actions of the few. I do not see that this country is anything I would call “free”  Think about it!

3 Replies to “Homeless are roused out of Cubberley”

  1. Dear Edgar Poet:

    Thanks for this article of great interest. I must take issue with one part of it, however. Contrary to popular belief, humans are UNlike apples in that we have the ability to heal, change, and learn from “rotten” actions in the past.

    You often hear the expression about “one rotten apple” starting a whole batch of apples to turn “bad.” It DOES happen with apples like that. Not so with humans. One human can make a positive difference and make a whole situation a lot less “rotten.” Apples can’t do that.

    As example I submit the story of Joe Bailey.

    Joe Bailey is a long time Santa Clara County resident. He lives in his recreation vehicle (RV) in various places in and around Palo Alto. Sometimes he lives in it for periods of time in San Jose while he’s getting work done on it there. Wherever Joe parks it, he improves the territory around it and spreads his values to others as well. They notice and do likewise.

    Joe parked at the Page Mill Extension from 2008 till July 2010 when PG&E started doing pipe tests there. The sign there says “NO PARKING 11 pm to 5 am.” Another guy had been parking there for twenty years.

    The police never bothered any of those who parked there. One day a couple of summers ago, while he was parked at the Page Mill Extension, Joe bought a weed whacker. The weeds along the road had gotten too high and Joe took to whacking them.

    After a few days of weed whacking, Joe looked up one morning to see a huge city truck and a crew roll up. They REALLY cleaned up the weeds—both sides of the street. Pretty soon the whole area looked neater, cleaner, and no longer had that trashy, overgrown appearance it formerly had.

    One day an officer started writing tickets for parking there overnight. Joe could never find out what changed that officer into such an enforcer—after all those years of no one enforcing the NO PARKING sign. He paid the tickets for a while and then left for John Bouleware Park–a nearby alternative favored by other former Page Mill parkers as well.

    Joe picked up a lot of trash that was there and kept the area cleaned up. He was out there picking up trash at six one morning when a Palo Alto PD unit rolled by. The officer drove by and gave Joe a friendly wave. Joe waved back. In the corporate world this is known as good public relations. Joe is the king of public relations for unhoused people.

    Recently Joe needed some serious undercarriage work done to his RV and was living in it in San Jose near the mechanic while he waited for parts. The sidewalk and grass strip between the sidewalk and the street were neglected. Joe set to work and in no time had the area around his RV looking so much better, the landlord was out there fixing up the whole property!

    Nowadays Joe parks in a sweet spot just over the Mountain View line where he’s not hassled. One of the unwritten rules in the world of the unsheltered is to clean up MORE than your mess. The theory is that any garbage, mess, trash, or junk left on the street or in parks will be assumed to be our (unsheltered people’s) mess. Whether we left it or someone who has a conventional home left it–we will be blamed, at least by some people.

    So we tend to clean up after ourselves and then some. Call it preventive policing. This is an explicit strategy and practice at the Cubberley Community Center as well. The unhoused who live there clean up the food and candy wrappers and cups left by people (presumably housed folks) who use the facilities.

    We clean up in self defense and civic pride: it’s not any more fun to live amidst a lot of litter for unhoused folks than it is for house folks.

    There are a number of local, unsheltered people who contribute to a neater, cleaner environment. But nobody I’m aware of in the unhoused community does as much beautification or inspires as much positive imitation as Joe Bailey.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that there ARE any “bad apples” just because some CLAIMS there are (like at Cubberley).

    Just because someone claims something doesn’t make it true. And don’t make the mistake of thinking all unhoused people do is make messes.

    Sometimes, like in the case of Joe Bailey and the Cubberley Campers (of whom I’m sometimes one), unhoused people are busy cleaning up the messes others leave as well as making sure that we take only memories and leave only footprints.

  2. Yesterday (Monday 7/23/12) The office manager of the Cubberley administration called the Palo Alto Police and asked them not to come back and cite people as they had said they would do on Thursday night.

    We still have not been able to find out who sent those police, what the problem is, and when the next shoe is going too fall.

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