Cubberley Shelter, Editorial by Dave Price

Dave Price Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post
Dave Price Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post

One of the most shocking local stories in the past few days was how Palo Alto’s Community Cubberley Community center is becoming, in the words of city manager James Keene, a “de facto homeless shelter”.

The Cubberley parking lot is where car campers spend the night. They’re attracted by the bathrooms and showers at the city run community center. This was one of the observations made at a City Council policy and services committee meeting on Tuesday.

At the end of the meeting, in a 2-1 vote, the committee sent to the full council recommendation that the city ban sleeping in cars, something Mountain View, Menlo Park and Redwood City did years ago.

When it reaches counsel, you can bet that homeless advocates will fill the chambers, making dramatic presentations about how such a ban “criminalizes the poor.”

Every time the issue of homelessness comes before Council, the comments at the microphone are emotional, and the meeting becomes a show.

After an emotional outpouring against a proposal to ban car camping occurred at a July 18, 2011, council meeting, Keene shelved the idea and tried alternatives. One idea was to ask the city’s 42 churches to open their parking lots to car campers.

Two churches took the city up on the offer: University Lutheran Church at Stanford Avenue and Bowdoin Street and First Presbyterian Church at Copper Street and Lincoln Avenue.

But pressure from neighbors caused First Pres to back off.  I understand the desire to ban car camping I wouldn’t want a camper parked in front of my house either.

That’s scary to a family with kids. And I certainly wouldn’t want car campers using my yard as their restroom. On the other hand, the streets belong to all of us.

If you’re down on your luck, and all you’ve got is your car, it’s extreme to say you can’t park that vehicle on a public street overnight.

Seeking a middle ground

How about we ban campers from residential streets, but allow them to park for no more than 72 hours in commercial areas where there are no homes? Palo Alto has miles and miles of such streets.

I don’t have a solution to the bathroom/shower question. It’s not the city taxpayers’ responsibility to provide bathrooms and showers. But restaurant owners, who are required by law to provide bathrooms, shouldn’t have to cater to the homeless either. Maybe the Opportunity Center on Encina Avenue would come to the rescue?

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5 Replies to “Cubberley Shelter, Editorial by Dave Price”

  1. There are those who believe in the Constitution and those who believe in the Constitution only when it pertains to themselves. The latter truly don’t believe in the Constitution for to believe in the Constitution one must be willing to protect and defend the Constitution with the same honesty and zeal for those whom they hate as they would for themselves.

    When Dave Price resurrected his newspaper several years ago many of his news racks mysteriously disappeared. Dave ran front page headlines on how his Constitutional Rights to Freedom of the Press were being violated and how this directly affected the liberty of all Americans.

    The Constitution has come under attack once again yet this time Dave has belittled those who would defend it because this time the violation is being directed at people whom Dave stereotypes and hates.

    Dave refers to these defenders of the Constitution as “advocates of the homeless” in order to diminish their legitimacy in addition to denigrating their character by inferring that they are whiners.

    Dave reveals the Post’s lack of journalism by regurgitating the falsehoods fed to him by City staff.

    What does a vehicle ordinance have to do with 30 people who don’t own vehicles who are living on the grounds of Cubberley?

    Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns, City Manager James Keene, City Attorney Molly Stump and P.A. Mayor Greg Scharff cannot explain how taking away 10 people’s vehicles will solve any problems associated with 30 other people who do not have vehicles.

    Mayor Scharff stated in today’s Daily Post that Tom Ammiano’s Homeless Bill of Rights is misguided.

    Since Ammiano’s Homeless Bill of Rights is patterned after Rhode Island’s Homeless Bill of Rights, Mayor Scharff is stating that the State of Rhode Island is misguided.

    If Scharff and the others knew what they were talking about they would allow their position to be challenged in open and public debate. Their refusal to debate the issues of Vehicle Habitation and the Homeless Bill Rights empirically demonstrates that there is no merit to their position for why else would they avoid an opportunity to prove themselves correct.

    Not only does Scharff and the others fear public debate where their position would be exposed as being illogical but they have actually used lies and false information to incite irrational fear among Palo Alto residents to justify their proposed Vehicle Habitation Ordinance.

    As currently framed, Palo Alto’s Vehicle Habitation Ordinance will deny homeless people the right to use a vehicle in all the ways that fixed residents use vehicles.

    “No,” you say. Really. Example: John is homeless and sleeping on Cubberley property at night and elsewhere in the City of Palo Alto. John hides his belongings in alleyways, bushes and trees. John is working for the “Downtown Streets Team.” John saves his money and buys a mini-van. John moves all of his belongings into his mini-van for safety and ease of use.
    One day John is sitting in his mini-van at 2:00 in the afternoon when the police arrive and demand to know his fixed residence. John tells them that he does not have a fixed residence. The police inform John that his is in violation of the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance and must leave the City in order not to be arrested.

    City Attorney Molly Stump has gone on record refusing to clarify the ordinance and what would constitute a violation of the ordinance other than being homeless, being without a fixed resident address, and in possession of a vehicle.

    To deny a person the same rights and privileges as all other residents is a violation of the U.S. and California Constitutions right now.

    The reason why the City Council and City Staff can enact an Un-Constitutional ordinance is because they know that the homeless are powerless to defend themselves from such an ordinance once enacted, for the homeless have neither the financial nor innate means to do so.

    Case in point why there needs to be a Homeless Bill of Rights that will provide homeless people the safeguards and means to defend themselves from the powerful bullies who would criminalize the homeless’ use of vehicles simply because they are homeless.

  2. Palo Alto City Councilman Gregg Scharff has called Tom Ammiano misguided yet based upon the facts it is Mr. Scharff who is misguided for not using the facts to support his position.

    20,000,000 adults between the ages of 18 to 34 would be living in their cars, that’s if they have a car if it were not for FREE RENT. They are referred as being “HOMELESS” yet they are living in a house.

    Roughly one-third, or 35 percent, of boomerang kids said they had lived independently at some point in their lives but had to move back in with their parents. About half of the grown children worked full- or part-time, while 25 percent were unemployed and 20 percent were full-time students.

  3. Why is it that people who are homeless are treated less than human?

    Explain how someone can walk by and not even say hello to someone who they think may be homeless?

    It has been confirmed, studied, and reported that most people who are homeless are not homeless by choice…

    It goes like this:

    The economy derails (or the company you worked for goes out of business, there are layoff’s/not enough work)

    You lose your job

    Over the next few months, you use your savings (you have three months saved up…everything will be ok! You cash out your 401K, giving you something to add to your nest egg…

    The first month: everything is smooth operations, no one (not even your neighbors) knows that you are out of work!

    You frantically search for work – (FOR MONTHS)

    Month two, you know you need to tighten your belt…everyone falls into a slump, right? You start cutting back on things that are not necessary, like soda, coffee at the local coffee shop…

    Month two: still no job, you are panic stricken! You sent out more than one hundred resumes, and you called all of your “friends” at your former place of work…they cannot offer any leads, and they too feel the pressure…more people at work have been laid off…you don’t pay your electric bill (one month won’t hurt…you’ve never been late before…), you pay the mortgage, and you cell phone, you buy food (minus soda, and all of the other stuff your family likes…cookies, etc.)

    Month three: Mortgage is paid, electric bill is half paid, cable is not paid, gas…nope…, water is not paid either…your disconnect notice comes in the mail for electric that’s why its half paid. Still no job, no leads, your losing hope, you are reduced to looking on craigslist for work. For God’s sake, you hope something gets better right now!

    Month four: you miss your mortgage payment; you pay the electric off, the gas and the water bill too. You buy minimal food, and minimal toiletries…things might get better…but now you’re losing HOPE.

    Month five, you can’t pay the mortgage, or the utilities…you buy food, you borrow toiletries from a family member…you feel so embarrassed, no one will hire you. You have let your family DOWN.

    Month six, you borrow money from another family member to buy food, gas has been shut off, but it’s warm outside, you don’t need heat.

    A week later: electric has been shut off you try to borrow money, but no one will loan it to you…why would they you can’t pay it BACK.

    Two days later, you get a foreclosure notice, pay or we take it…the notice reads…we won’t talk about panic here…it’s a given.

    You consider going into a family shelter, you make a couple of calls…there are no open rooms for you and your family…now what you ask? The shelter director tells you that your family will have to split up, men in one shelter, women and children in a different shelter way across town. Your wife tells you this is your fault.

    You go outside and sit on your deck…you see the grill, and the pool, and you remember the really good times you had a couple of summers ago…if you hadn’t spent all of that money on a block party at your house…you’d still have cash.

    The next day you go to a local food pantry, and they give you five bags of food, and toiletries…you can’t go back for thirty days…they need to help others too, you know!

    In two days, you are out of food; your wife packs some bags, and takes the children with her to her mother’s house.

    Your mother in law calls you. You tell her you’re SORRY for something you did NOT DO TO YOUR FAMILY. You hang up, after telling her thank you for helping.

    The next day a sheriff shows up with your vacate order, you have five days to pay or leave…you borrow money from your brother to put your household belongings into storage, your best friend, and his brother come with their pickup trucks and help you.

    On the fifth day, the sheriff comes again with others who are ready to get you out, its Saturday, and all of your neighbors are outside in their yards…having fun, loving each other, and you realize…you are empty, you are empty and alone, and you feel sort of dead.

    You get into your car, and you go to an area in Palo Alto, and you park…and you wonder what the HELL just happened…and how did it happen so QUICKLY???

    Its 8:30 pm, you are tired, you fall asleep…wondering…and you hear banging, it’s so loud!!! It’s the police; they ask “What is your address?”

    WHAT IS YOUR ADRESS they demand to know!!! You give them your address, but they are on to you, one of them was there today at your house watching you leave! You are called a LIAR!

    You are arrested…for not leaving…you couldn’t leave, you have no gas in your car…

    You did something WRONG
    You are NO longer HUMAN
    You are HOMELESS
    You are NEVER looked at directly by another human…

    This is why I care…

    It is WRONG, that those who become HOMELESS are NO longer treated as HUMAN’S. This should NEVER happen to anyone, any family…any HUMAN.
    This is why I care, I know how it feels…to NOT BE HUMAN.

    Treat others as if this happened to you, it could you know…

    I lived in San Diego in the early 80’s as a military wife…I remember one of my neighbors lost his job on an oil rig…he lost his home, and everything he and his wife owned they left behind…they moved into a tent, and I saw them a few times after that aver a couple of years, and they never recovered form homelessness during that time….I don’t know what happened to them…

    I live in Rhode Island now…the passage of the Homeless Bill of Rights ensures that people are simply treated as HUMANS.

    Do the RIGHT thing, every single person is HUMAN.

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