Homeless feel unwelcome at events planned for San Jose's St. James Park

Officials in San Jose have a series of big events planned for St. James Park this summer geared toward families and downtown workers.

Park officials say everyone is welcome. But the homeless say that is not always how they feel.

This weekend, the homeless who live in St. James Park in San Jose will make way for this: Dog Yoga, otherwise known as "doga."

Lavelle Moore, who is homeless says, "I've never heard of that. That's something crazy!" 

In fact, the park will play host to a series of summer activities, not just 'doga', but concerts, movies and wrestling too.

San Jose officials say it's a way to get office workers and families to come out to a park they often avoid.

Andrea Traum works downtown. "It's very homeless heavy. They don't tend to bother anybody that I've noticed. But it's not necessarily a place you want to hang out when something bigger wasn't happening," she said.

Events have traditionally worked well for San Jose. Music in the Park, started in 1989, has helped energize Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

Parks officials want that for St James Park too.

Redevelopment plans have been in the works here for several years.

Neil Rufino, deputy director of San Jose Recreation and Community Services says, "It's downtown's core. We want to make sure that it's safe. That it's active. More people doing positive things in parks is what we want."

Park officials stress everyone is welcome at these events. But homeless advocates fear they send a message to the homeless nonetheless.

Shaunn Cartwright, a homeless advocate says, "They want it for the haves just like they want all of San Jose for the haves. They keep raising the rent and raising the rent. And they keep raising the bar for the people who have the money and have the ability to stay here."

Lavelle Moore says he's been told by park officials to steer clear of the summer events.

He says, "They'll tell the homeless could you go somewhere else before this event starts. Sometimes the homeless are upset. They'll sit there. But then again eventually they'll get up and walk off."

But Moore says he likes to stay, "Myself, I sit here on the bench. I just watch them. I watch them all day."

Doga is every second and fourth Sunday here. There are also wine and craft nights, and some lunch break activities during the week. The events run through August 29.