'Tough love' for the homeless

Palo Alto needs to shed its reputation as a haven for the homeless by enacting stricter laws and providing more human services, members of Palo Alto's business community and city staff said Tuesday.
Palo Alto needs to shed its reputation as a haven for the homeless by enacting stricter laws and providing more human services, members of Palo Alto's business community and city staff said Tuesday. <br/> <br/>"It's called tough love," Sherry Bijan, executive director of the city's business improvement district, said at a round-table discussion on the city's homeless population. <br/> <br/>City Manager Frank Benest announced he will recommend expanding Palo Alto's "sit-lie ordinance" to apply to the entire downtown area. The ordinance prohibits anyone on University Avenue between Cowper Avenue and High streets from sitting on anything other than a city bench. <br/> <br/>"We need to minimize panhandling in the downtown if we're going to be successful," Benest said. The city also is looking into hiring private security to patrol the city's downtown parking lots and garages in the early morning and entering into a contract with the Downtown Streets Team, which employs homeless people to maintain sidewalks and streets, to also clean downtown garages, where many unhoused people sleep in cold weather. <br/> <br/>Eileen Richardson, executive director of the streets team, outlined a "care not cash" program scheduled to roll out in June. Asking people to give money to social programs rather than directly to panhandlers will discourage the homeless from loitering outside stores, she said. Elected officials will kick off the campaign by collecting money on the street for services that provide food and shelter to the homeless, like InnVision. <br/> <br/>"We need to take the revenue stream from panhandlers and put it into the many great services in Palo Alto," Richardson said. <br/> <br/>The city's persistent panhandlers who take up the most police attention will be the focus of a new "restorative policing" program starting in early summer that aims to combine law enforcement with social services, such as substance abuse rehabilitation and psychological treatment, said Capt. Dennis Burns of the Palo Alto Police Department. <br/> <br/>"We'll be trying to identify the root cause for this person and try to treat that," he said. Burns and Kathy Espinoza-Howard, the city's director of human services, met with a local judge last week to discuss sending chronic offenders to a treatment facility instead of jail. <br/> <br/>Under the law, aggressive panhandlers receive a citation. More serious offenses involving drugs or alcohol can lead to jail time. <br/> <br/>Burns also said the police department will have a greater presence on downtown streets when 11 officers in training hit the streets. <br/> <br/>Several members of the city's business community asked for stricter enforcement of the current sit-lie ordinance and said they plan to call police when dealing with aggressive panhandlers. <br/> <br/>"We welcome seeing a greater police presence downtown," said Georgie Gleim, owner of Gleim Jewelers. <br/> <br/>But others voiced concern that with an expanded ordinance, the homeless might be left without options. <br/> <br/>"If you can't sit in Palo Alto, lie in Palo Alto or sleep on the bus, how can you exist?" asked Faith Bell, manager of Bell's Books. "We can't create a community where people have absolutely nowhere to be." <br/> <br/> <br/>E-mail Kristina Peterson at kpeterson@dailynewsgroup.com.
First Prev
of 2
Next Last
Walter_ E_ Wallis

Menlo Park, CA

#21 Apr 14, 2007
That was called liberation, Bucky.
Craig

Portola Valley, CA

#22 Apr 14, 2007
pa homeless guy,

It sounds like you are blaming someone else. I was looking for honest self evaluation.
Uncle Buck

Oakland, CA

#23 Apr 14, 2007
Craig, I think if you evaluate his answer you'll find what you were asking for.
a palo alto homeless guy

Fremont, CA

#24 Apr 14, 2007
Uncle Buck wrote:
Well then there's that third category. It's criminal that we close the institutions and pretend they are capable of fending for themselves. The Lanterman Petris Short Act never anticipated what it would become.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanterman-Petris...
Well then when you learn to read, you'll see that I said that poverty is not a crime, it is not alcoholism, drug addiction, nor is it mental illness or even laziness.

The next thing you're going to say is "Well then why don't they get jobs?" One answer could be that California is an "employment at will" state, not a "right to work" state - at least for them...
mary menlo park

Alameda, CA

#25 Apr 14, 2007
No one has mentioned the fact that Palo Alto has recently built and opened the Opportunity Center. It is a beautiful building meant to meet the needs of the homeless. This was voted on and approved by the citizens of Palo Alto, a caring bunch!
eric

Glendale, CA

#26 Apr 14, 2007
the opportunity center was built so that PA could hide the homeless and pretend they give a fig
a palo alto homeless guy

Fremont, CA

#27 Apr 14, 2007
mary menlo park wrote:
No one has mentioned the fact that Palo Alto has recently built and opened the Opportunity Center. It is a beautiful building meant to meet the needs of the homeless. This was voted on and approved by the citizens of Palo Alto, a caring bunch!
As W.C. Fields notably said,'There is a sucker born every day'. Many folks with money want to be bamboozled. This is how the so-called Opportunity Center received its $25 million dollars in funding. Where is that money now?

As one homeless person said to me, "For every dollar they give to us, they give $10,000 to someone else."

Why would anyone think that the so-called Opportunity Center would be better than the old open-air drop in center behind the Red Cross building? As one long term volunteer middle class homemaker answered, "We can have our office in an enclosed building."

It's true that the Opportunity Center has some housing for the homeless. But those 89 Opportunity Center units appear to have become fairly permanent housing. Living there, I'm told, is like living in a police state snakepit. As far as housing is concerned, in Palo Alto there were previous housing projects supposedly for the poor and disadvantaged, such as the huge 753 Alma project, the Barker Hotel, and a few flop houses. A couple years ago there was a street project in Palo Alto that was able to fund about 15 chronics off the streets into flop units before the waiting list jumped to about 200 when the project stopped. I'm told now that the Opportunity Center now has a wait list of about 500.

The Opportunity Center still has enough space to store some material donations, like clothes, but it looks like the "drop in center" part of the operation may have to move elsewhere in time. The social workers have noticed that the residents do not want to associate with the "drop ins".
Actually, the facility is poorly designed for a homeless drop in center. The extra rooms on the ground floor would better serve the residents.

The token homeless person for the Opportunity Center fundraisers was an alcoholic.
a palo alto homeless guy

Fremont, CA

#28 Apr 14, 2007
a palo alto homeless guy wrote:
<quoted text>
As W.C. Fields notably said,'There is a sucker born every day'.
Sorry, my goof, it wasn't W.C. Fields who said that. It was David Hannum, a competitor of P.T. Barnum (Barnum & Bailey's Circus). See
http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbarnum....
a palo alto homeless guy

Fremont, CA

#29 Apr 14, 2007
and the quote was "There's a sucker born every minute."

Egad. Time for a break.
Walter_ E_ Wallis

Menlo Park, CA

#30 Apr 16, 2007
I don't believe there was ever a shortage of help for the person trying to get back in the mainstream. Those who don't want to join are less well served. Some people just want to be left alone, These people still need space, and it is better to accomodate them than to shun them because they don't want to obey rules.
anon

San Ramon, CA

#31 Dec 6, 2007
how can an individual help a homeless person? any insight palo alto homeless guy would help. there's a guy i see around in a wheel chair who sleeps in the bushes sometimes and i want to help, i just am not sure how.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker
First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Palo Alto Daily News Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
'Hybrid' store displays new plans (Jun '07) Dec 23 Silver Blade 4
Serra now officially a WCAL North lightweight (Jun '09) Dec 17 Where is Serra 744
Surenos gang member gets new trial date (Aug '08) Nov '14 jeff6 281
Andrea Spira: Beads & Hypocrisy (Jan '09) Nov '14 Borreka1 9
Police: Man wanted to execute pregnant woman (Jan '07) Sep '14 Amer80 46
Hearing begins for Daly City man accused of wif... (Jan '07) Aug '14 Nursing School Mate 299
Unemployment nears 10 percent (Mar '08) Mar '14 Stuart Cudahy 2
More from around the web