The car camping ban goes into effect Sept. 19, though it won’t be enforced for 90 days, and the Cubberley ban is likely to begin Oct. 19.
How will police enforcement?
Palo Alto Chief Communications Officer Claudia Keith said that the city has not yet made any special plans for the days when the laws first going to affect, despite the possible difficulty of getting some homeless who have been living at the center for months or years to leave.
She added that the city is trying to let homeless campers who live at the center know that they have to leave through police and those who work for the city’s Downtown Streets Team, which organizes homeless volunteers to clean streets.
For the past four weeks, Palo Alto police have sent extra patrols to Cubberley to walk the grounds during the evening and night.
At a city Council Policy and Services Committee meeting on Aug.13, Capt. Ron Watson said that the city was spending $3,500 in overtime costs every week just on the Cubberley patrol.
At the same meeting, Watson said that over the past weeks, police had counted 30 homeless sleeping outside at the community center and 20 people camping in their cars.
But when Oct.10 rolls around, none of those people will be able to get into Cubberley to sleep, because the city will close the entrance to the parking lots between 10:30 p.m. and sunrise, according to Keith.
While the law to close Cubberley, as well as Lucie Stern Community Center, would go into effect exactly 31 days after being approved on Sept 9, the car camping ban will be phased in more slowly.
‘Grace period” planned
Beginning on Sept. 19, there will be a 60-day “Grace period,” when people who are still camping in their cars will only be spoken to by police, Keith said.
That will be followed by a 30-day time period during which car campers will be given warnings. Soon after that, however, police will have the ability to cite both car campers and those who are found at the community centers with misdemeanors, which could result in as many as six months in jail and maximum $1,000 fine.