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Panhandlers on Willow/Middlefield

Original post made by Anonymous on Sep 26, 2012

Immediate opening for standing and sign-holding: Median island on the south side of Middlefield Road at Willow Road. New occupant may move to more desirable islands as they become available. Primo Menlo Park location and award-winning schools.

Seriously, what can we do about the panhandling pair of men at that intersection? They are a traffic distraction and hazard, and are intimidating to children crossing either street.

Comments (14)

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

This is Menlo Park (and Palo Alto) for heaven's sake!

Have you no compassion?

You must surely be related to Mitt Romney or Meg Whitman.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Given the fact that we've had a sudden influx of homeless using the rear area of our small townhouse complex as a place to sleep at night and a place to pass out during the day, drunk. Me thinks adjacent communities have become fed up with these folks and run them out of their towns. So now we have to deal with them. Menlo Park PD needs to put the heat on them so they will move on to some other place.

That may sound harsh, but I speak from my time in law enforcement. It was my experience (and I dealt with a lot of homeless for a period of time)that 50% of them were mentally ill. If Pat Brown hadn't turned them out of the state mental institutions they would have been being cared for. (no Reagan didn't do it. Look it up) 25% of the homeless that weren't mentally ill had serious substance abuse problems. They were beyond help and didn't want it. How many times do you have to go to jail for being intoxicated or defecate on yourself before you hit "rock bottom?" These folks were beyond redemption. The last 25% were regular folks that were genuinely down on their luck. Those people were doing every thing they could to take care of themselves and to try to find work. They did not wish to remain in that situation. I'd do anything I could to help them out.

Can you guess who we spent all of our time dealing with? Who were the "problems?" That's right it wasn't that last 25%.

If we don't institutionalize the first 50% we will be forever dealing with them causing problems on our street. There is nothing we can do for the 25% that have substance abuse problems and the last 25% don't cause trouble.

It's not pretty, but all we can do at this point is push these people out of our town. At least until the state wises up and starts reintitutionalizing them. Hint: not going to happen. So, either we put up with these folks causing problems for us and our children and grand children or we do something about it.


Posted by local, a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2012 at 6:47 am

not quite sure how to interrupt this first sentence. Do the homeless have an assigned time (appointment) to be at a certain location?


Posted by menloshopper, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I agree this is a dangerous spot for panhandlers, just as is the Alma/Sand Hill Road/ECR intersection. Time to help them find another spot to hang out.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

This is a indicator of the increasing traffic on Middlefield Road. The level of traffic supports 2 panhandlers. Thank you Menlo Park council for unmitigated Facebook approvals and Stanford approvals (you too Kelly, and Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller)

In 20 years the Level of Service at that intersection has never been that bad.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm

What I often recall while crossing Willow/Middlefield is the time a Menlo cop hit my brother's bike while crossing on foot in the crosswalk. Now I'll have a new memory to replace that ironic one, & this one may well be almost as ironic - a panhandler right near a grocery store & a few miles from St. Anthony's Dining Room, where he could get real assistance.


Posted by Menlo Park Mother, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

This intersection is often gridlocked between 4-6 pm, sometimes with angry blocked drivers honking their horns. The corporate shuttle buses add to the chaos. This intersection is very dangerous for the brave people who bike this area. The pedestrians or thoses waiting to catch the Bus are at risk. I have called the MP police more than once when I have noticed the the panhandling has made this situation more dangerous, yet I have never seen any police helping with the traffic or the panhandlers.


Posted by James, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

MP Mother is right that the traffic in the area is certainly greater. As a frequent pedestrian myself, I'm concerned about how difficult to cross Mfield Rd not only at Willow, which at least has a light, but also at Woodland/PA Ave. That is the main route for walkers and cyclists to get between downtown PA and beyond to the Willows, and it is impossible to cross in the rush hour. It really needs a marked, signalled crossing.


Posted by Diduknow, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 27, 2012 at 7:05 pm

What about the guy who hangs out parked at burgess, near the ball field early in the mornings, mostly weekends, smoking pot, getting high? I see him there all the time, in his silver Mazda wagon with chrome wheel covers, just sitting there, and all you have to do is walk by the car, and you get a whiff of what he is up too. Or more disturbing is the guy in his 90's model white ford panel van, playing loud music and hanging out in the same general area, always very early, and I am certain this is the same guy detailing his car in the same place (silver/blue 90's thunderbird), again with the loud music and loitering. Burgess is not a car wash, or a hang out to get high. The more this is allowed to go on, the more they will tell their friends about this, and the more will show up to "hang out". My daughters walk around burgess all the time, and I've warned them, and I keep a watch out. Yes, this info has been sent to MPD, do something about this first!


Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

So the problem looks fairly basic. Do we allow the free market for panhandling to find its natural level?
Do we enforce ordinances to discourage and remove homeless (someone will need to pay law enforcement)
Should we provide a social safety net to help the helpless (someone will need to pay for social services)
Is the answer to stimulate the economy for job creation (or since the private sector seems to be doing fine, how about funding all the public sector jobs we've lost in the past 4 years).
Maybe it's an education thing...we should fund training to reduce the number among the uneducated, down-on-their-luck homeless folks.
Perhaps we should throw them in jail (someone will need to pay for this), or do they deserve medical care (someone will need to pay for this too).
Our choice: we can follow the party that believes in building a big social safety net, or the party that doesn't (but may prefer to solve this through charitable giving).


Posted by tumbling dice, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Central Menlo lays things out neatly, including what our choices are. And it is indeed our choice.

Regarding CM's last point: I think I'll go with the party that believes in a social safety net. The problem with the alternative is found in the MAY in "may prefer to solve this through charitable giving." Hasn't worked yet, has it? And at this point, all that GOP money that could be going toward charity is going toward trying to buy the White House for Romney.


Posted by Just Noticed, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

SInce I read this yesterday, I have noticed three homeless people with overflowing shopping carts, on Middlefield, by the Caltrain station, and on El Camino near the PA border. I don't recall seeing this many with people with carts in such a short period. Is this a recent phenomenon? Someone from the City (police?) should look into this, so it can be dealt with properly, such as by bringing in County social services, etc.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

How about a modest safety net - ie, MORE benefits for a SHORTER period - that will really get people back on their feet without sentencing them to a lifetime of government dependency.


Posted by MP observer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 30, 2012 at 1:54 am

I met a woman who works for public agencies that provide the "safety net." She said there are already services in place so that nobody ever NEEDS to panhandle. Some people just don't avail themselves of the services, or do but continue to panhandle. She said a big problem is getting people to take their medication.

I was stopped next to one of those guys at Willow & Middlefield one day and he was carrying on a conversation with someone over his cell phone. He had it on speakerphone and placed it between him and his sign so it wasn't visible to oncoming traffic. I heard him talking to a woman and telling her what time he'd be home.

I am amazed at how many people give these guys money. It's unbelievable and that's why they are there.


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