Written By: Matt Niksa
Palo Alto councilmen—in a vote of 7-1—initiated an ordinance to close down the Cubberley Community Center from 10:30 p.m. to sunrise starting Oct. 9. The ordinance’s effects are broader than just Cubberley; it will close all overnight community centers throughout Palo Alto, as well as libraries and City Hall. The vote came just a week after the council had voted 7-2 in favor of banning vehicle dwelling, a decision that restricts Palo Alto residents and homeless citizens from making their vehicles temporary homes. The vote came after years of complaints from the Greenmeadow neighborhood, whose members live adjacent to the community center. A sharp spike in the homeless population and a recent string of crimes involving the homeless also led to the decision.
In an effort to help the homeless find a temporary home, the Palo Alto City Council has devoted $150,000 to help the homeless obtain articles of clothing, toiletries and job openings. Another $100,000, a sum that will be matched by Santa Clara County, has been provided for subsidized housing.
Councilman Lawrence Klein, who has been on the council board for eight years, believes that Greenmeadow residents have been patient long enough. “I think that the Greenmeadow people have been extraordinarily patient,” Klein said. “It’s only been in the last 6-9 months that things have really gotten a lot worse. In this situation, the numbers really count.”
Klein also believes that the prohibition of vehicle dwelling combined with the overnight closing of Cubberley will create a safer environment. “I certainly hope the homeless population declines,” he said. “The two laws certainly go together, and they affect the entire city.”