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Guest opinion: Safe parking program could expand with help from local property owners

It can be upsetting to see cars and RVs on the side of the road that serve as homes to our community members. Many of us have even wondered — what can I, or anyone, do to help these residents of our community, many of whom are vulnerable families and seniors.

Homelessness is not a problem that appeared overnight; it is an issue that has grown in our high-priced area. Though difficult, some options are available to meet the needs of unhoused community members and are not out of reach. One is quite simple — safe parking. Safe parking allows individuals or families that live in their cars and RVs to park their vehicles in designated areas that are supervised, have access to amenities and services, and allow for continuous, uninterrupted stays. While not a long-term solution, safe parking allows residents to have stability in where they sleep each night while they seek permanent housing.

But, like so many good things in the world, no one group can provide safe parking alone. In this case, Santa Clara County, local cities, local chambers of commerce, faith communities, and nonprofit agencies are working together to provide safe parking. The county and local cities have piloted safe parking efforts and can now offer a complete package to run safe parking programs — including on-site case management, liability coverage, and a trusted operator to handle the day-to-day issues. But we need more parking lots — in fact, we need many more parking lots.

The Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos (CSA) is currently providing case management to community members living in their vehicles. Without safe parking, residents living in their cars and RVs are weighed down by significant obstacles that encumber their daily lives. They have to seek a new spot for their vehicles on a regular basis, address costly repairs, and worry about the security of their families and their belongings — all while trying to locate permanent housing. Safe parking lots allow residents to address some of these issues and reinvest their time into their own lives, including their efforts to seek permanent housing. Many of the residents living in their vehicles are active members of the communities they reside in who have fallen on hard times. The situations vary — loss of jobs, health problems, or housing displacement — but they remain community members who work in our businesses, go to our schools, and need a safe place to sleep.

There has already been success with safe parking efforts around the county. Safe parking has served dozens of families and individuals, including several who have moved to permanent housing.

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The Palo Alto and Mountain View chambers of commerce have co-sponsored an effort spearheaded by county Supervisor Joe Simitian to find those parking lots. The county, the cities, and their nonprofit partners will bring turn-key safe parking to lot owners who are happy to host community members on their lots overnight or, where possible, continuously.

If everyone can come together to find more parking lots, this success can be multiplied in Palo Alto and Mountain View. If you or someone you know owns property with an unused lot and is willing to work with the county to solve our shelter crisis, then please attend an info session in Palo Alto at All Saints Episcopal Church (555 Waverley St.) on Wednesday, March 11, from 11 a.m. to noon or 6 to 7 p.m., or in Mountain View at the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce (580 Castro St.) on Wednesday, March 11, from 10 to 11 a.m. or 6 to 7 p.m. Register for the Palo Alto event at tinyurl.com/paloaltosafeparking or the Mountain View session at tinyurl.com/mvsafeparking.

For more information, contact Charlie Weidanz at [email protected] or Tom Myers at [email protected]

Tom Myers is the executive director of the Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos, and Charlie Weidanz is CEO of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

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Guest opinion: Safe parking program could expand with help from local property owners

by /

Uploaded: Sat, Mar 7, 2020, 9:07 am

It can be upsetting to see cars and RVs on the side of the road that serve as homes to our community members. Many of us have even wondered — what can I, or anyone, do to help these residents of our community, many of whom are vulnerable families and seniors.

Homelessness is not a problem that appeared overnight; it is an issue that has grown in our high-priced area. Though difficult, some options are available to meet the needs of unhoused community members and are not out of reach. One is quite simple — safe parking. Safe parking allows individuals or families that live in their cars and RVs to park their vehicles in designated areas that are supervised, have access to amenities and services, and allow for continuous, uninterrupted stays. While not a long-term solution, safe parking allows residents to have stability in where they sleep each night while they seek permanent housing.

But, like so many good things in the world, no one group can provide safe parking alone. In this case, Santa Clara County, local cities, local chambers of commerce, faith communities, and nonprofit agencies are working together to provide safe parking. The county and local cities have piloted safe parking efforts and can now offer a complete package to run safe parking programs — including on-site case management, liability coverage, and a trusted operator to handle the day-to-day issues. But we need more parking lots — in fact, we need many more parking lots.

The Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos (CSA) is currently providing case management to community members living in their vehicles. Without safe parking, residents living in their cars and RVs are weighed down by significant obstacles that encumber their daily lives. They have to seek a new spot for their vehicles on a regular basis, address costly repairs, and worry about the security of their families and their belongings — all while trying to locate permanent housing. Safe parking lots allow residents to address some of these issues and reinvest their time into their own lives, including their efforts to seek permanent housing. Many of the residents living in their vehicles are active members of the communities they reside in who have fallen on hard times. The situations vary — loss of jobs, health problems, or housing displacement — but they remain community members who work in our businesses, go to our schools, and need a safe place to sleep.

There has already been success with safe parking efforts around the county. Safe parking has served dozens of families and individuals, including several who have moved to permanent housing.

The Palo Alto and Mountain View chambers of commerce have co-sponsored an effort spearheaded by county Supervisor Joe Simitian to find those parking lots. The county, the cities, and their nonprofit partners will bring turn-key safe parking to lot owners who are happy to host community members on their lots overnight or, where possible, continuously.

If everyone can come together to find more parking lots, this success can be multiplied in Palo Alto and Mountain View. If you or someone you know owns property with an unused lot and is willing to work with the county to solve our shelter crisis, then please attend an info session in Palo Alto at All Saints Episcopal Church (555 Waverley St.) on Wednesday, March 11, from 11 a.m. to noon or 6 to 7 p.m., or in Mountain View at the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce (580 Castro St.) on Wednesday, March 11, from 10 to 11 a.m. or 6 to 7 p.m. Register for the Palo Alto event at tinyurl.com/paloaltosafeparking or the Mountain View session at tinyurl.com/mvsafeparking.

For more information, contact Charlie Weidanz at [email protected] or Tom Myers at [email protected]

Tom Myers is the executive director of the Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos, and Charlie Weidanz is CEO of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

Comments

We need real help, not safe parking
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 10:35 am
We need real help, not safe parking, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 10:35 am

How did we get so many people that mean well, but do not understand that they are not helping the homeless or the community by letting people sleep in their cars.

If you encourage bad behavior you will only get more of it.

The ones with an mental illness needs to be institutionalized, they need serious help.

The ones that have an addiction need help going to a rehab place.

The ones who can not afford to live here, but are working, need a helping hand to show them that this area is just to expensive and other parts of the country have lower cost of living and they will have a better quality of life living elsewhere.

All this effort-waste of time, and millions of tax payers dollars looking for "Safe Parking" needs to stop as you are not helping anyone.

All available resources should go to helping people get out of their cars and not be used for more safe parking spots.


The Business Man
Castro City
on Mar 7, 2020 at 10:49 am
The Business Man, Castro City
on Mar 7, 2020 at 10:49 am

The city council's unforgivable poor land management is the cause of the REAL problem.

THey gave land out only for luxury housing projects where the developers instead of setting aside any affordable units, "bribed" their way around BMR housing for the LUXURY units.

Thus no land is available for any affordable housing projects.

Simple math clearly shows that the proportion of housing in Mountain View for luxury housing, (NOT Single Family Homes, but that is another problem) should have been only 16% and not the 75% plus projects approved and built since 2010.

THAT is the REAL cause of the problem, hold them accountable for it.


A Real Buiness Man
Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:44 pm
A Real Buiness Man, Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:44 pm

You work for the government, and we all know what people say about those who can not get a job in the private sector.

I find it interesting that you say by spelling out your Resume, that is a personal attack on you.


The Business Man
Castro City
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:56 pm
The Business Man, Castro City
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:56 pm

In response to A Real Buiness Man you said:

“You work for the government, and we all know what people say about those who can not get a job in the private sector.”

Let’s give you some information you don’t know. I did some VERY important work, SUCCESFULLY for PayPal, TRiNet, Bristol Myers Squibb, Smith Detection, PG&E, NASA, Lockheed Martin, the EPA, and the DOD for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army. Do you think that qualifies as someone you want to disregard? Maybe you should stop trying to put anyone down personally when you have no good information to bring to the topic?

So when you say:

“I find it interesting that you say by spelling out your Resume, that is a personal attack on you.”

You DID NOT spell out my resume at all, you made assumptions that one with good formal education could not be equal to those of “school of hard knocks”. Again, I learn from other people’s mistakes as much as I can BEFORE I make some of my own. Please let’s discuss the topic at hand?

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER OTIONS TO MAKE ANY IMPROVEMENTS? Or do you want us to do the same thing over and over again expecting the PRIVATE sector to solve the problem?

The simple truth is that the PRIVATE sector cannot be relied upon. My example I use, FORD would never only sell their top of the line Mustangs as their only car in the market. Gas stations would never sell only 93 Octane Fuel. Sony would never sell just their top of the line Blue-ray DVD players. Samsung would never only market the S20 Galaxy phones. Even the Insurance industry never only offers just one product. Why should the housing market not do the same?

Yes when FORD started it only sold one car at a time the Model T and Model A, but that was because there were no other vehicles available. That changed quickly.

The fact is if any housing project had operated with the market demand spectrum, you would not have a surplus of luxury housing in Mountain View that is needing customers. I see for lease signs on all the new units built. Is it because their prices are so high that no one can afford them? Maybe? By diversifying the products you greatly reduce risk of vacancy.

In finance there is a concept for this the proportionate risk/return principle. You can read up on it from Investopedia from here (Web Link it states:

“Yes, there is a positive correlation (a relationship between two variables in which both move in the same direction) between risk and return—with one important caveat. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT TAKING GREATER RISK RESULTS IN A GREATER RETURN. RATHER, TAKING GREATER RISK MAY RESULT IN THE LOSS OF A LARGER AMOUNT OF CAPITAL.

A more correct statement may be that there is a positive correlation between the amount of risk and the potential for return. Generally, a lower risk investment has a lower potential for profit. A HIGHER RISK INVESTMENT HAS A HIGHER POTENTIAL FOR PROFIT BUT ALSO A POTENTIAL FOR A GREATER LOSS.”

Again just also understand that banks negotiate loans based on this model. Thus interest rates go up on higher risk loans. Thus the banks are more likely to give favorable rates to those loans that pose less risk. For every percent increase in potential rate of return tends to multiply level of risk in a lot of cases.

By the way, what most investors do not know is that they cannot expect anywhere near a double digit rate of return in housing, my brief study found that the rate of return since 1950 was only about 6% it was from this research titled “Housing for the long run?” from the Alphaville Financial Times found here (Web Link

Whenever you attempt to sell any development above that rate of return you are only going to increase the risk of failure statistically in a geometric increase proportionate to the return. The “INVESTORS” are convinced by the “INVESTMENT SELLERS” that they are getting a sure bet. This is simply unrealistic and the INVESTOR is unfortunately responsible for ant decision they make. (Caveate Emptor).


Strange
Cuesta Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Strange, Cuesta Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:37 pm

I am curious how the two people commenting above are able to debate about one another qualifications without even know who the other party is?

As far as the safe lots.... please no more. Work social services and results of moving people out of vehicles.


Billy Bob
Bailey Park
on Mar 8, 2020 at 11:09 am
Billy Bob , Bailey Park
on Mar 8, 2020 at 11:09 am

The city of Mountain View has failed with the safe parking issue for years and is now being sued for polluting the water . And you have the nerve to ask property owners to take on the problem that is your solution . No property owner in there right mind is going to allow human waste and garbage on there property get real city council.Lets face it you have failed now your trying to make your problem property owners problem wow.


Resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm
Resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm

"While not a long-term solution, safe parking allows residents to have stability in where they sleep each night while they seek permanent housing."

Since you acknowledge that it is not a long-term solution, what is your plan for ending the program? Wait until they have all found permanent housing? What if they don't want permanent housing?

What about when the numbers swell because there is a new supply of free parking? The more that come, the harder it will be to terminate the program. Which you acknowledge needs to eventually happen when you say it's not a long-term solution.

Now that this solution exists, will the normal parking enforcement on city streets resume? Why would someone want to all the way near the bay, when they can park on Shoreline or Crisanto, where they have walking access to food and public bathrooms?


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