Saturday, April 10News That Matters

Council debates method to battle emerging homelessness



PALO ALTO — As Bay House towns proceed to grapple with a homelessness disaster that has exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic, the Palo Alto town council stays imprecise in its technique to space its rising unhoused inhabitants.

All the way through a learn about consultation Monday on new methods to offer properties to the over 300 unhoused folks within the town, council individuals heard Santa Clara County housing advocates and individuals of the neighborhood clamor for Palo Alto to do extra.

Presently the town doesn’t have an enduring 24-hour homeless safe haven, its secure parking program for individuals who are living of their cars remains to be now not operational and the town hasn’t aggressively pursued county and state price range to transform suffering motels into brief housing the best way different neighboring towns have finished thru Challenge Homekey.

However folks like Phillip Dah, director of the Palo Alto Alternative Heart, are hoping that the council will take a 2nd take a look at a few of the ones answers and transfer briefly to catch up for misplaced time.

Dah bemoaned the truth that the one safe haven for adults — the Lodge de Zink — has needed to cut back its 20-bed capability to ten as a result of COVID and requested the council to hunt different brief shelters for folks.

“Despite the fact that emergency shelters are helpful, we predict that if we transfer to getting extra everlasting housing it is going to actually cope with the systemic homelessness problems in Palo Alto,” Dah mentioned.

For individuals who were dwelling of their cars — lots of them parking along busy street like El Camino Actual — the location isn’t a lot better. Since 2019, the town has been debating and making an attempt to construct a secure parking program which it nonetheless hasn’t delivered on. The town mentioned it has room for approximately 12 cars at a web page on Geng Street close to the Bay and 3 pending church so much with about 4 spots every.

In the similar time, neighboring Mountain View has been ready to increase a program with over 78 secure parking spots for car dwellers, and the town is having a look to enlarge to 103 spots quickly. Mountain View has additionally been pursuing partnerships with county officers to buy the Crestview Lodge for redevelopment into brief housing.

All the way through public feedback, former council candidate Rebecca Eisenberg referred to as Palo Alto’s technique for coping with its homeless inhabitants “embarrassing and shameful.”

“Sure, it’s true that the county has made numerous development,” Eisenberg mentioned. “However Palo Alto has made 0 development. They discuss Santa Clara County, however the public wish to know that Palo Alto is by myself in providing 0 safe haven beds as contrasted with Mountain View which has part our finances and are ready to do it.”

However some neighborhood individuals like Wendy Yu and others who spoke at Monday’s consultation aren’t so fast to name at the council to construct extra shelters or be offering extra secure parking. Yu mentioned she has critical considerations in regards to the secure parking program, like its loss of residency requirement.

“It’ll be a possibility that we’re going to take that’s now not going to be fixing the present unhoused factor?” Yu mentioned. “We will have extra entering our town.”

Yu additionally warned that the secure parking so much will cluster in religion communities alongside Middlefield Street necessarily “concentrating” the homeless factor in a single specific community. Others who have been skeptical of this system requested that the so much be surveilled 24/7, that the unhoused citizens who take part must move a background test and that the $600 charge to enchantment the status quo of a secure parking program in an area be diminished.

As council individuals deliberated some argued the council would do neatly to expedite its secure parking program and enlarge it, however some like councilwoman Lydia Kou mentioned the council has to hear the individuals who have raised considerations about protection and high quality of existence being probably disrupted.

“It’s most commonly reassurance that they’re in search of,” Kou mentioned. “They need to know that if we’re going to have numerous those methods that their feedback must be checked out and labored on.”

Councilman Greg Tanaka agreed that the enchantment charge is “prohibitively dear,” however he didn’t make a touch upon any specific technique.

“I don’t know why we need to fee this sort of top charge,” he mentioned. “We don’t need that to be a barrier to comments at the secure parking program.”

Decided to search out fixes for the homelessness factor, Mayor Tom DuBois, Vice Mayor Pat Burt, councilman Greer Stone and councilwoman Alison Cormack expressed their make stronger for some concrete concepts.

Stone mentioned for a very long time it has “damaged my middle that we don’t have safe haven choices for everybody or everlasting settlers for households” and referred to as for the council to create a “strategic plan” and provides extra money to human services and products.

“I’m disillusioned with the amount of cash we spend on human services and products,” Stone mentioned. “It’s just a little greater than $500,000. That’s related to one in all our consent schedule pieces. It’s principally the price of putting in one toilet in Palo Alto. It wouldn’t take a lot to seriously build up our dedication.”

Burt mentioned he needs to make use of COVID aid cash to retain crucial social services and products and construct emergency amenities.

“It’s completely suitable for us to take some fraction of that unfold over a two yr length and put it phrase our social services and products investment,” Burt mentioned, including that obtaining everlasting constructions to accommodate folks could also be key.

He discussed two websites that may be used to brief housing, the about 4-acre web page of the previous Los Altos Hills wastewater remedy plan and a 10-acre patch of land close to the Golfing route that used to be as soon as supposed to be evolved as taking part in fields however have remained empty.

“If the town has the land and will make it to be had, my working out is that then we’d be on a quick monitor to get right of entry to county price range,” Burt mentioned.

Mayor DuBois mentioned the town will most probably have to extend its secure parking program. He mentioned the Mountain View RV ban — which prohibits outsized cars from parking on maximum town streets — will “affect surrounding towns” and lamented the gradual procedure to get secure parking calling for streamlining.

He mentioned he’d love to enlarge from the usage of public so much to asking non-public firms to make use of massive industrial so much lately sitting empty as folks proceed to stick house from paintings. He additionally mentioned he’d believe resort conversions.

“We’re being cautious, however I’m hoping we will be able to streamline,” DuBois mentioned. “There’s numerous county cash for resort conversions. I’m certain run-down motels might be keen on being offered and dealing with the county to buy them and get emergency safe haven and possibly later inexpensive housing.

Given the size of the issue, it’s as much as us to peer what we will be able to do.”



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