Have Nots Getting Squeezed Out of Palo Alto

The Palo Alto city council on Monday approved an ordinance that prohibits people from sleeping in their vehicle.

The decision leaves dozens of residents who sleep in cars, vans and RVs of the Cubberly Community Center parking lot scrambling to find a new place to call home.

"We feel like it's hating the homeless," said Cindy Waring, a homeless person in Palo Alto. "It's a hate crime and so what if other cities have already done it. It isn't right."

Mayor Greg Scharff said police will only respond to complaints, and will not actively kick people out who are just sleeping in their cars.

"It's not unnecessarily targeting anyone," Scharff said. "What it does it provides police a toll if someone is defecating on a person's front yard to tell them to move along."

Ladoris Cordell, a former city council member, has lived in Palo Alto for 40 years. She said the ban criminalizes the homeless and is yet another attempt to shut out the less fortunate.

"I'm very concerned Palo Alto is becoming a place of only 'the haves,'" she said. "It's like saying we don't want you here unless you look like us -- the haves."

Cordell also gives another example is the only mobile home park in Palo Alto may soon be closed so the owner can develop luxury apartments.

If that scenario were to happen some 400 people would be forced to search for affordable housing on the Peninsula -- a tough find.

According to RealFacts.com, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Palo Alto is about $2,500. The average rent in San Mateo isn't much cheaper at about $2,100 a month. Even across Highway 101 in East Palo Alto you'll pay $1,476 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Palo Alto is actively working to build affordable housing, including 50 units at the new Alma Family Housing Project, Scharff said

"For 20 plus years we are committed to affordable housing and 2 percent of all our housing is subsidized," he said.

Scharff also added that the city is working to beef up services for the homeless.

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