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Palo Alto Joins Santa Cruz in Rejecting the Right to Sleep: A Sad Tale of Two Cities
My Dreams of Sleep
Although my own sleep is often troubled, I nevertheless continue to dream of a community that regards sleep as a fundamental human right. These thoughts came particularly to mind while reading an article about the recent Palo Alto City Council meeting where sleeping in one’s motor home was criminalized by local ordinance. It was my hope that a passionate, well reasoned defense of the right to a restful, undisturbed night’s sleep for the vehicularly housed might resonate with that elected body. However that “dream” was effectively snuffed out by a decision that seemed to reject out of hand that most basic right. But does this decision accurately reflect the views of that community, or ours, with regard to the right to sleep? My dream is that it does not.
I think we might all agree that our moral sense compels us to extend our hearts to the less fortunate among us who often ask for nothing more than a safe, undisturbed night’s sleep. Intellectually, there is little dispute that sleep bears a direct relationship to our ability to live happy and productive lives. One can scarcely find fault with that logic.
But more than that, for some families in reduced circumstances living (and sleeping) in a recreational vehicle is the only way to keep the family unit together as they struggle to regain their economic footing. Are the people of Palo Alto and the people of Santa Cruz so calloused to the challenges faced by the vehicularly housed that they would simply brand this survival option illegal and not give it any further thought? Again, my hope and dream is that they do not.
So I would ask that as we work to create safe places to sleep for the vehicularly housed residents of both communities we do one more thing:
We look to find a place for them in our hearts as well. That, it seems to me, is a dream worth sleeping about.