PALO ALTO -
The Stop the Ban Coalition is deeply concerned to learn that the City of Palo Alto's push to enact a vehicular dwelling ordinance that would essentially ban unsheltered people in Palo Alto is being used as an excuse by the City of Mountain View to explore expanding their own ordinance against vehicular dwelling to include commercial areas of the city. The Mountain View ordinance currently only covers residential areas.
Tony Ciampi, a member of the Stop the Ban Coalition, states that just as Mountain View is hiding behind Palo Alto's actions to justify their own, in a circular game of rhetoric "Palo Alto council member Larry Klein is justifying an ordinance with the excuse that Mountain View has one. I have heard that Pacifica may enact a vehicle ordinance as well."
Mr. Ciampi was the victim of an unlawful arrest by Palo Alto police while he was dwelling in his van in 2008. Video showed that Mr. Ciampi was yanked from his van by officers while he was attempting to call his lawyer and then zapped twice by tasers during the incident.
Ciampi's research has shown that despite the claims of city staff and police that service calls related to unhoused people living in their cars in Palo Alto were a significant problem, in reality over the last three and half years calls related to vehicle dwellers was only 0.000667% of all calls for service. On July 6, Ciampi received correspondence from the City of Palo Alto stating that the city has received zero complaints for repair issues or janitorial issues at the Cubberley Community Center, indicating that the unsheltered population of Palo Alto were not a significant burden.
The Stop the Ban Coalition is inviting the public out to a community dinner this Saturday at 6 PM at the Cubberley Community Center, to provide food to and show solidarity with unhoused community members. Free pizza and salad will be served, and the event is intended to be a casual, family-friendly event. The coalition is also inviting supporters of the ban to come to the event and share their concerns so that possible alternative solutions can be discussed.
James Lee, an organizer with Occupy Redwood City (ORWC) and Peninsula Direction Action (PDA), stated, "What will happen if Palo Alto enacts a ban and Mountain View follows suit by expanding theirs? Isn't it likely that nearby communities without a similar ban in place, such as East Palo Alto, will end up bearing the responsibility that their neighbor cities should be handling? When these relatively well-off cities decide to wash their hands of their community obligations by banning people who have become victims of the Peninsula's rising income inequality and gentrification pressures, how much respect are they showing to their neighboring cities? How much respect are they showing to their own community?"
Ciampi added: "Cities like Palo Alto, Pacifica, East Palo Alto, and Mountain View should all approve resolutions pledging to each other and to their communities that they will work together to not enact or expand on vehicular dwelling ordinances. Perhaps then we can leave behind the bogus rationale of one city's ban being justified by another."
Lee concluded by saying, "The City of Palo Alto needs to remember that its commitment to its community will be judged not by how it treats Mark Zuckerberg but by how it treats the woman who clears his dishes after lunch and sleeps in her car at night out of necessity.
"Our communities are not judged by how we treat the well off, the most secure. They are judged by how we treat those in our community who have the least and who need our empathy the most."
EVENT INFO: Community dinner Saturday, July 27 at 6 PM. To be held at the Cubberley Community Center on 4000 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.
Background: Mr. Ciampi spoke with Mountain View Community Service Officer Leslie Ota on May 15, 2013. Ms. Ota supplied Mr. Ciampi with Mountain View's current municipal code Sec. 19.111(c) regarding the use of vehicles in residential areas. She also stated that she was tasked to investigate the expansion of Mountain View's vehicle habitation ordinance to include all commercial areas as a result of Palo Alto enacting their own ordinance, in the belief that Palo Alto's vehicle dwellers will move to their city. It is Mr. Ciampi's understanding that Ms. Ota conducted some preliminary investigations on this matter during fall/winter of last year.