News

Council: no easy solution for city's car-dwellers

Many of people living in vehicles have jobs but can't afford housing

These days, Crisanto Avenue near Rengstorff Park looks something like a used-car lot, or maybe a campground. On the far side of the street, a row of nearly 50 motor homes, vans and other vehicles line the road, some with lawn chairs and barbecue grills stationed nearby.

This stretch of roadway has become one of several makeshift locations in Mountain View where homeless families, transients and the fully employed have congregated.

The car-campers parked and living on Mountain View's streets have taken center stage as the latest exhibit in Mountain View's ongoing troubles with affordable housing and income inequality. Mountain View officials say it's become clear that a growing number of people have taken to living out of their vehicles rather than pay the rising housing costs. But city officials have been unsure what to do about it, especially since these vehicle-dwellers for aren't breaking any laws as long as they move their abodes every 72 hours.

Among the few car-campers milling about near Rengstorff Park on Tuesday was Scotty Whaley, a 59-year-old who presented himself as defiantly happy in the face of hardship. In an ironic twist, he told the Voice that he had worked in Mountain View as a property manager, but since losing his job he said he decided a good way to save money would be to live in his Dodge van.

Over the last four months of living on the street, he said, he encountered surprisingly few problems. The other vehicle-dwellers were quiet and polite, and the nearby apartment residents didn't mind them, he said. His van is outfitted with a television, propane warmers and a mattress in the back. It was a remarkably tidy space.

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He had some complaints -- he couldn't use the restroom at Rengstorff Park after the city locked it each night, Whaley said. Taking a shower usually meant traveling up to a service center in Palo Alto. But overall, he was content, he said.

"I'm living in a castle!" he said. "I'm a fortunate guy -- I look at it that way."

City leaders aren't so sanguine about the situation, and they are reviewing options for addressing problems that have cropped up along with the vehicle encampments.

The City Council discussed the issue at its Feb. 23 meeting, armed with data from a 14-page staff report. Initially, council members expressed the desire to create a safe parking space where the car-campers could stay instead of parking along public streets. But when examined, that idea turned out to be more complicated than expected.

The biggest problem for a safe parking program is finding a suitable space. City staff members reported that they had examined 14 lots in town, but none was without challenges. Perhaps the most obvious site -- the Shoreline Amphitheatre parking lots -- will soon become unusable as the concert season ramps up in April. For that matter, officials from churches and nonprofits expressed some wariness about opening their parking lots and facilities to the growing number of vehicle-dwellers.

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Faith leaders said they wanted to help, but they want the city to provide leadership, said Brian Leong of Lord's Grace Christian Church. Council members urged staff to look into providing liability coverage to encourage charity groups to open their facilities to people living in their cars.

From the testimony of several people living out of their vehicles, council members say they became convinced that this homeless population might be better thought of as the working poor. They may not face many of the chronic issues typically attached to the homeless population, such as alcoholism, drug use and mental illness.

"All the evidence is these are people who are working, but not making enough to have a permanent residence," said Councilman Lenny Siegel. "Our homeless population is different than San Jose or Washington, D.C. Most of our homeless have jobs. Many have children enrolled in our schools."

Last year, the council approved the closure of a small RV park in North Whisman in favor of a row house development.

Many of the people living out of their vehicles would happily pay for a space at an RV park, if there was any space available, said Marcia Christlieb, who identified herself as a NASA employee. She said she has been living in her RV off Latham Street after learning that a Redwood City motor-home park had a 100-person waiting list.

In contrast to testimony by other speakers, Christlieb said people living in their cars were routinely harassed by neighboring residents.

"I'm unable to work if I have to commute from Gilroy every day because that's the only place within a reasonable distance that's affordable," Christlieb said. "I'm not addicted to drugs. I'm homeless, I'm educated, and there's nowhere to go."

In the end, council members opted for a plan to study the issue further and take a series of interim steps to help the vehicle dwellers. They backed a plan to recruit the mobile service Dignity on Wheels to visit the main car encampments and provide residents with free shower and laundry services. After hearing accounts of RV dwellers traveling to Redwood City just to empty their septic tanks, council members said that the city needs to look into buying some kind of waste-disposal unit.

Council members also asked staff to look into keeping the Rengstorff Park restrooms open overnight.

Many public speakers said a longer-term solution to curb rising rents and provide more options for the indigent is needed. Perhaps most alarming for council members was the staff's report that 30 children attending the Mountain View Whisman School District are homeless. If the city needs a yardstick to measure its success on solving this issue, those children should be it, said Councilman Ken Rosenberg.

"Thirty children going to our schools are living in vehicles -- that's a disgrace," he said. "My goal is zero kids living in cars."

Through the discussion, many speakers acknowledged that the scope of the regional homeless issue was beyond Mountain View's control. Santa Clara County's elected leaders are currently examining a variety of housing initiatives aimed at the homeless, and Mountain View council members gave direction to advocate for more aid in the North County region.

As a long-term solution, council members said the city would need to continue efforts to bring more affordable housing to the Mountain View area. Next month, the city will also discuss a beefed-up rental mediation program that could impose some restrictions on rent increases.

For the time being, it looks like Mountain View's vehicle campers won't be moving anywhere.

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Council: no easy solution for city's car-dwellers

Many of people living in vehicles have jobs but can't afford housing

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Feb 25, 2016, 12:23 pm

These days, Crisanto Avenue near Rengstorff Park looks something like a used-car lot, or maybe a campground. On the far side of the street, a row of nearly 50 motor homes, vans and other vehicles line the road, some with lawn chairs and barbecue grills stationed nearby.

This stretch of roadway has become one of several makeshift locations in Mountain View where homeless families, transients and the fully employed have congregated.

The car-campers parked and living on Mountain View's streets have taken center stage as the latest exhibit in Mountain View's ongoing troubles with affordable housing and income inequality. Mountain View officials say it's become clear that a growing number of people have taken to living out of their vehicles rather than pay the rising housing costs. But city officials have been unsure what to do about it, especially since these vehicle-dwellers for aren't breaking any laws as long as they move their abodes every 72 hours.

Among the few car-campers milling about near Rengstorff Park on Tuesday was Scotty Whaley, a 59-year-old who presented himself as defiantly happy in the face of hardship. In an ironic twist, he told the Voice that he had worked in Mountain View as a property manager, but since losing his job he said he decided a good way to save money would be to live in his Dodge van.

Over the last four months of living on the street, he said, he encountered surprisingly few problems. The other vehicle-dwellers were quiet and polite, and the nearby apartment residents didn't mind them, he said. His van is outfitted with a television, propane warmers and a mattress in the back. It was a remarkably tidy space.

He had some complaints -- he couldn't use the restroom at Rengstorff Park after the city locked it each night, Whaley said. Taking a shower usually meant traveling up to a service center in Palo Alto. But overall, he was content, he said.

"I'm living in a castle!" he said. "I'm a fortunate guy -- I look at it that way."

City leaders aren't so sanguine about the situation, and they are reviewing options for addressing problems that have cropped up along with the vehicle encampments.

The City Council discussed the issue at its Feb. 23 meeting, armed with data from a 14-page staff report. Initially, council members expressed the desire to create a safe parking space where the car-campers could stay instead of parking along public streets. But when examined, that idea turned out to be more complicated than expected.

The biggest problem for a safe parking program is finding a suitable space. City staff members reported that they had examined 14 lots in town, but none was without challenges. Perhaps the most obvious site -- the Shoreline Amphitheatre parking lots -- will soon become unusable as the concert season ramps up in April. For that matter, officials from churches and nonprofits expressed some wariness about opening their parking lots and facilities to the growing number of vehicle-dwellers.

Faith leaders said they wanted to help, but they want the city to provide leadership, said Brian Leong of Lord's Grace Christian Church. Council members urged staff to look into providing liability coverage to encourage charity groups to open their facilities to people living in their cars.

From the testimony of several people living out of their vehicles, council members say they became convinced that this homeless population might be better thought of as the working poor. They may not face many of the chronic issues typically attached to the homeless population, such as alcoholism, drug use and mental illness.

"All the evidence is these are people who are working, but not making enough to have a permanent residence," said Councilman Lenny Siegel. "Our homeless population is different than San Jose or Washington, D.C. Most of our homeless have jobs. Many have children enrolled in our schools."

Last year, the council approved the closure of a small RV park in North Whisman in favor of a row house development.

Many of the people living out of their vehicles would happily pay for a space at an RV park, if there was any space available, said Marcia Christlieb, who identified herself as a NASA employee. She said she has been living in her RV off Latham Street after learning that a Redwood City motor-home park had a 100-person waiting list.

In contrast to testimony by other speakers, Christlieb said people living in their cars were routinely harassed by neighboring residents.

"I'm unable to work if I have to commute from Gilroy every day because that's the only place within a reasonable distance that's affordable," Christlieb said. "I'm not addicted to drugs. I'm homeless, I'm educated, and there's nowhere to go."

In the end, council members opted for a plan to study the issue further and take a series of interim steps to help the vehicle dwellers. They backed a plan to recruit the mobile service Dignity on Wheels to visit the main car encampments and provide residents with free shower and laundry services. After hearing accounts of RV dwellers traveling to Redwood City just to empty their septic tanks, council members said that the city needs to look into buying some kind of waste-disposal unit.

Council members also asked staff to look into keeping the Rengstorff Park restrooms open overnight.

Many public speakers said a longer-term solution to curb rising rents and provide more options for the indigent is needed. Perhaps most alarming for council members was the staff's report that 30 children attending the Mountain View Whisman School District are homeless. If the city needs a yardstick to measure its success on solving this issue, those children should be it, said Councilman Ken Rosenberg.

"Thirty children going to our schools are living in vehicles -- that's a disgrace," he said. "My goal is zero kids living in cars."

Through the discussion, many speakers acknowledged that the scope of the regional homeless issue was beyond Mountain View's control. Santa Clara County's elected leaders are currently examining a variety of housing initiatives aimed at the homeless, and Mountain View council members gave direction to advocate for more aid in the North County region.

As a long-term solution, council members said the city would need to continue efforts to bring more affordable housing to the Mountain View area. Next month, the city will also discuss a beefed-up rental mediation program that could impose some restrictions on rent increases.

For the time being, it looks like Mountain View's vehicle campers won't be moving anywhere.

Comments

thoughtaboutit
Cuesta Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 2:21 pm
thoughtaboutit, Cuesta Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 2:21 pm
12 people like this

Spend $50 and join a gym (24-hour fitness is close by). That'll solve majority of their bathroom and shower issues.


@24hr
Rengstorff Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm
@24hr, Rengstorff Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm
18 people like this

I'm sure your thank you letter from 24-hour fitness is in the mail.

Don't really think they would see themselves as on the hook for providing bathing facilities for homeless families and children--that's the city's job and it sounds like they aren't doing it.

Is there some money in the Rengstorff Park renovation plan that could be put toward facilities for these folks?


James Thurber
Cuesta Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm
James Thurber, Cuesta Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm
44 people like this

Living in a world that combines ultra successful tech workers, lower-wage labor, and including a touch of greed it's even more important for us, as a society, to "Take care of all the folks."

As a citizen of Mountain View I would support setting aside (or having the City lease) a large parking lot and providing portable showers and bathrooms along with night security. An odd community to be sure but at the moment we're experiencing a gross shortage of affordable housing. It is something we should look at.

It might work. It might not. I like to quote President Harry Truman, "Well, if it doesn't work . . . we'll try something else."

These folks are our neighbors, living in their vehicles or not. Their labor / services are essential this community. Let's try to take care of them, too.


Lauren
The Crossings
on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:16 pm
Lauren, The Crossings
on Feb 25, 2016 at 3:16 pm
5 people like this

It is a county-wide issues, but the Mountain View City Council is not off the hook either. I'm sure the families of the 30 MVWSD kids would not want to move elsewhere.


Groucho
Rex Manor
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm
Groucho, Rex Manor
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm
47 people like this

A few days ago, when my wife was walking down Crisanto, a guy was urinating in the bushes just off the sidewalk in broad daylight. This is a public health and sanitation issue and it degrades the quality of life for permanent residents. I understand that these people have a problem, but they are a problem for the rest of us too. The city council also needs to consider our feelings.


reader
Waverly Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm
reader, Waverly Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm
9 people like this

"...Initially, council members expressed the desire to create a safe parking space where the car-campers could stay instead of parking along public streets. But when examined, that idea turned out to be more complicated than expected.

The biggest problem for a safe parking program is finding a suitable space. City staff members reported that they had examined 14 lots in town, but none was without challenges...."

Could the Voice please elaborate on just what might these challenges be? We already have cars/trailers/campers parked on several streets around town and the article does not mention any undesired consequences such as crime, littering, disturbances, etc. What's the problem? What is so challenging about a parking spot with perhaps a trash dumpster, bathroom, and water spigots? Like a campground? What are the challenges that make this more complicated than expected?


@Reader
Gemello
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm
@Reader, Gemello
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm
9 people like this

All (or most) of the problems of finding lots suitable are listed in the staff report.

go here: Web Link

Then find the agenda for the February 23rd meeting.
Find item 7.1 Safe Parking Program
Click on the Council Report (as well as Attachment 3)

From the Council Report:
Staff reviewed 14 available City-owned properties that could be considered for a safe parking program in Mountain View, although there are challenges with each option (Attachment 3). Most safe parking programs have a perimeter requirement to regulate distances between vehicles parked in a safe parking lot and neighboring residential properties. Using that guideline, there are very few City lots that are suitable for operating a safe parking program on an ongoing basis.

All of the City-owned lots are located near residential areas or the downtown business district with the exception of Shoreline Amphitheatre Lots A and B, which are only available for a limited time period because they are used for concert parking during the months of April through October. The downtown parking lots along Hope Street are adjacent to restaurants and other retail establishments, and are used by patrons into the late evening hours. Other lots are located in community parks. The best option among City lots may be to use the Rengstorff Park or Community Center lots, or use the Shoreline lots in the winter months.

Staff approached the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) about the use of its lots for a safe parking program. The VTA has a two-acre parking lot at the corner of East Evelyn Avenue and Pioneer Way. This lot was once used primarily for parking for patrons of the Evelyn Avenue light rail station, which was closed for service about a year ago. Since then, VTA has used the majority of the lot for construction staging for their double track project. VTA staff stated that they are currently developing a strategic analysis of VTA real property, which is expected to be completed within the next couple of months, and are unwilling to commit their parking lot at this time.

Staff also reached out to LinkedIn and Google to receive feedback on using any
available parking lots on their properties. LinkedIn indicated that there does not
appear to be any suitable lots that could be used for a community safe parking
program. Many employees often work late and park in various lots into the evening
hours. They are also concerned about liability and security of the employees and
buildings. Staff does not yet have any indication whether Google lots may be viable for use, but similar issues are likely.

A dialogue was started between City staff and NASA Ames on the possibility of using
Federal land to address the growing number of people living in their RVs and cars.
NASA Ames has indicated it is not possible to use Federal land for this program.
Should Council wish to implement a safe parking program, it may be a challenge to
find a suitable space unless a City-owned lot is used, or unless a nonprofit or faithbased organization is willing to house the program on its premises. Additional research and outreach would be required to investigate alternative options.



@Groucho
Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:37 pm
@Groucho, Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2016 at 4:37 pm
8 people like this

Aww, poor thing. Are the homeless people hurting your feelings? Are they making you feel a little bit sad? I hope the city council does everything in its power to help you feel better about yourself!


OldMV
Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm
OldMV, Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed due to violation of terms of use]


MV Mama
Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2016 at 6:11 pm
MV Mama, Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2016 at 6:11 pm
24 people like this

So the council votes to close an RV park and then seems confused about what to do with the problem of people living in their cars/RVs? Seems about right for this circus.


Martin Omander
Rex Manor
on Feb 25, 2016 at 7:44 pm
Martin Omander, Rex Manor
on Feb 25, 2016 at 7:44 pm
21 people like this

It's good the City Council is looking at short-term solutions for this problem. It's a crying shame that we let our fellow human beings live like this.

The only long-term solution is, of course, to build more housing.


Shelly
Monta Loma
on Feb 25, 2016 at 9:38 pm
Shelly, Monta Loma
on Feb 25, 2016 at 9:38 pm
6 people like this

As a temp solution for those parked along Latham Street, what about the empty parking lot behind DMV on the far end of Target? That way at least the RVs are off the street and not blocking the view of cars coming out of the Target/Avalon Tower/Biz Building driveways?


@MV Mama
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 11:35 pm
@MV Mama, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 11:35 pm
18 people like this

Regarding the closed RV area...

About 20 years ago, the City told the land owner they'd have to vacate the space due to non-conforming land use of his property in 20 years. Well, those years have come up. The property owner sold his land to a developer. There was NO opportunity to save the RV area because of the land-use rules. So...rowhouses will be built. This is not some conspiracy. If the current council denied the development, which is legal based on the rules, the city would be in violation and would lose the lawsuit that would certainly be filed.

Before you contribute, you should think through the decisions that have been made. They aren't willy nilly and always have a logical explanation.


Resident
Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2016 at 7:55 am
Resident, Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2016 at 7:55 am
16 people like this

We live in an affluent area with a thriving industry that's attracting lots of highly paid workers, which would normally be a wonderful thing. However, we also have a pervasive resistance to change that manifests itself as NIMBY attitudes residents. Imagine the complaints if an RV park was proposed anywhere near a low density residential neighborhood.

The bay area is growing. We're an island of opportunity in a country that's been economically stagnant for a decade. We should build housing, shops, infrastructure to support the newcomers so that we don't have this horrible situation of people on the lower end of the income scale being priced out. Livable towns need a wide range of housing, everything from luxury houses down to inexpensive condos and RV parks. If you resist these types of developments, you are complicit in creating the housing problem.

I'm a relatively new home owner. If a big apartment building went up next to my house, naturally, I'd be disappointed about losing the light and the increased noise and traffic, however, this is the price that we pay for living in a thriving area, and it's not my place to decide what my neighbors do with their property.


Zoning Matters
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:17 am
Zoning Matters, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:17 am
53 people like this

@Resident:

"I'm a relatively new home owner. If a big apartment building went up next to my house, naturally, I'd be disappointed about losing the light and the increased noise and traffic, however, this is the price that we pay for living in a thriving area, and it's not my place to decide what my neighbors do with their property."

~~~~~~~~~~

This is exactly why we have zoning ordinances -- in part, to prevent a large apartment building from being built next to a single family home that is located in an R-1 single family home neighborhood.

If your home is in an R1 zoned area, it is absolutely your place - in fact, your right - to expect that the city adhere to it's standards for an R1 zoned area. Theses requirements include FAR (density), height limits, setbacks, landscaping, parking, development review, fencing and much more.

Web Link


There are, of course, other factors involved in zoning designations and usage, but I am simply citing you apartment building next to a single family home as an example of why zoning matters.


Resident
Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:22 am
Resident, Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:22 am
12 people like this

I disagree with those zoning rules, they stifle progress.


Zoning Matters
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:52 am
Zoning Matters, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:52 am
30 people like this

@Resident:

"I disagree with those zoning rules, they stifle progress."

~~~~~~~~~~


You can disagree with them all you want but they are city ordinances and, in theory, apply equally across the board, and as such if one is living in an R1 zoned area a big apartment building cannot be built next door to one's home in the same R1 zoned neighborhood, by law.

If you don't care what may be built next to you, might I suggest purchasing a residence in a more flexibly zoned neighborhood (R4, CRA for example) and leave the single family home - R1 zoned neighborhoods - to those who purchased with the expectation of residing in the environment created by the zoning regulations.

The zoning you are seeking already exists in more appropriate areas than those currently zoned R1.




AllYouCanEat
Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:13 am
AllYouCanEat, Old Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:13 am
27 people like this

Not all of the RV's go to Redwood City to dump their sewage. Not to mention what do the ones that don't have RVs do. When faced with walking about 100 yards to a bathroom when you can go 6 feet away the ladder usually wins. I've seen it happen. This is a heath issue.


silicon valley lol
Rengstorff Park
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm
silicon valley lol, Rengstorff Park
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm
7 people like this

The former spot use to be where sears was, now replaced by overpriced abundant luxury apt units. I put my money down that those buildings probably have enough units to house them right now, but of course...rather hold out to the ones willing to pay 5g a month. Pathetic.


Anna R.
The Crossings
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm
Anna R., The Crossings
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm
7 people like this

In addition to the RVs lining Latham Street, twice this week I saw food trucks! Honestly, I'm very sympathetic to the challenges folks face when the only options they have is living in their vehicles. And I blame the City Council for not providing any solutions at all. But food trucks? Not sure if there are regulations of food trucks conducting business in residential streets?


Not the counsels fault
North Bayshore
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm
Not the counsels fault , North Bayshore
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm
55 people like this

Not the counsels fault these these people can't find jobs, houses or apartments. Is the city everyone keeper? Gilroy isn't to far away, i have friends that travel all the way to Modesto each day. Mt.View will soon become the trailer park trash city.


Dennis
Monta Loma
on Feb 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm
Dennis, Monta Loma
on Feb 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm
33 people like this

This is only going to get worse, much worse, all due to the cry baby liberalism of our city governments and residents that seem so concerned, that is until the problem comes into your neighborhood. First it must be stopped now by the city passing an ordinance changing the 72 hour overnight parking to 24 hour parking with no living in vehicles; period. Mountain View should be more in line with Palo Alto. Don't worry about these mostly single men, they will have to find other places in the state or country to take advantage of the freebies. Hasn't Mountain View learned from slum towns in San Jose, Santa Cruz, San Francisco. Liberalism certainty is a mental disorder, just like a local talk show expounds. And if you don't think that alcohol and drugs fuel these encampments, then just walk by these places that have drain buckets for who knows what, outside their vehicles, and smell the urine and feces in the bushes, oh sorry I mean smell the roses. And no matter what area you want to put these people, many from outside the area, and all you will create is a slum town that will cost the city up the ying yang. Get the picture. Stop it and stop it now before greater numbers come on in from other towns, they're smart, they know where the going is good. And with Summer coming along with all the sidewalks and other city property littered with bar-b-ques and beer bottles, well, just welcome to the nightmare of fights and crimes that always, and I mean always exist in any encampments like these, no matter where they are. Make ordinances to stop this and stop this now!


Duh
Castro City
on Feb 27, 2016 at 6:24 pm
Duh, Castro City
on Feb 27, 2016 at 6:24 pm
24 people like this

Put up 5 hour parking limit signs. Police can then ticket the vehicles. Direct them to park in front of all the council members' homes. Problem solved.


Duh Yourself
Gemello
on Feb 28, 2016 at 6:42 am
Duh Yourself, Gemello
on Feb 28, 2016 at 6:42 am
12 people like this

Seriously, if it came down to it, after 50 years in MV, I would rather live in my car than in a bug infested 'home' for the elderly like the one that just got shut down here. I am sure there are more close by.
Council, city, county, whomever, should get busy and enforce the rules already on the books. Inspections for the trashy old apts that are currently gouging the poor. Hold the owners accountable. Fine them and use the revenue for vouchers for the new mega apts going up along El Camino, San Antonio, and CA street that soon will stand empty in greed!
It's a vicious circle.


David
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:52 am
David, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:52 am
29 people like this

Wow. Can't believe so many people seem to support these encampments. I expect our council to be more protective of our city. Not encourage camps in our parks, churches, or parking lots. We want to help those down and out and trying to get back on their feet, but this approach will obviously lead to massive abuse from those taking advantage of our city. There is just no way to stop that from happening. Incredibly naive in my opinion.


Angel
Registered user
Gemello
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm
Angel, Gemello
Registered user
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm
21 people like this

@David

Let's imagine a situation where you live here (in MV) and have for 10 years. The rent you owe monthly is doubled. You can no longer live in your current apartment and the rent on all other apartments are beyond your reach. Your kids go to school here.

Are you saying...because of circumstances beyond your control, that you are no longer welcome in Mountain View? That you now deserve to live somewhere else? In fact, you MUST live somewhere else?

What do you suggest we do with people who fall into that category? Abandon them? Banish them to another city far far away so you don't have to look at them anymore?

Your worldview and mine couldn't be further apart.
Love thy neighbor, my friend.


ivg
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:34 pm
ivg, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:34 pm
17 people like this

These people, with jobs and children, are living in their cars and people on this forum just want them to go somewhere else? Your desire to not see trash on your street takes precedence over someone else's need for a place to live? These are human beings! They're probably citizens just like you and me! You can't just deport them!

My apartment complex has some parking spaces in the back that are always empty, plus we're a block away from an elementary school. I would be happy for a family or two living out of their minivans to come and stay here. If some neighboring cities kick out car-dwellers, we should set a good example and bring them in. With a little creativity, we could even create a self-funding program to provide their basic necessities, assuming that they have jobs and thus can chip in a few bucks.

In the long term, of course, the only solution is to build more housing.
Web Link

And in point of fact, urine does not spread disease. It's just another form of sweat that we consider indecent because of where it comes from. It does smell, but not as badly as hypocrisy and privilege.


ivg
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm
ivg, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm
8 people like this

Are we out of our minds? Is this what the California dream has become in the 21st century? Go west, young man, and maybe if you work hard enough you'll be able to afford a house that doesn't have wheels? It's like we've gone back to the Chinese Exclusion Act, except now instead of the Chinese it's anyone who didn't have the good fortune of buying land here before Apple and Google set up shop.


mvresident2003
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Mar 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm
mvresident2003, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Mar 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm
22 people like this

Since when is it a right to live in Mountain View? Just because one was able to afford it in the past does not guarantee the future.

Why would anyone with responsibility, common sense and strong ethics want to stay in an area they cannot afford? Why would you want to other than to take advantage of the value without paying the price.

I want to live in lots altos but that will never happen, I can't afford it. I would love to stay here when I retire, have the family home for my kids to come back to for holidays but guess what? I won't be able
To afford to, I know I will have to go somewhere else more affordable so I can support myself into old age. I'm not crying poor me, I'm going to do the responsible, common sense thing. I hate to leave here but it's my only choice.

Why should others support or pay for those who can't seem to make good (sometimes hard) decisions?


mvresident2003
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Mar 3, 2016 at 11:38 am
mvresident2003, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Mar 3, 2016 at 11:38 am
12 people like this

Well, there's a way to shut down this discussion. Bring up common sense and responsibility. Ha, imagine that!


Marzipan
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:59 pm
Marzipan, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:59 pm
13 people like this

I currently reside on Latham St. as an RV dewller. (Surprise! I'm connected to my community!)

I have witnessed more pedestrians throwing trash in the bushes and on the streets and sidewalks than any one of my neighbors. In fact, we spend our own time and resources cleaning up the streets. Every day. I guess people assume we are all poor slobs because our house has wheels. What a misinformed view of the world.

Also, I am working and living in Mountain View. I pay taxes. I am not free-loading. I follow the established rules. I don't litter, I don't park for more that the allowed time, I also move my home to allow for street cleaning twice a month. I am trying to save enough money to buy a home in Mountain View (I can pay $4K each month to a stranger and have nothing of my own, or I can put that money in the bank for a down payment for my own palace), at which time I will be paying taxes on income, sales, and property. Just like you. (Surprise again! I have plans!)

Asking us to move because we can't afford to pay $4k each month in rent is not a solution to the housing problems in Mountain View. Companies that can't compete with the tech giants with their huge salaries, housing subsidies, etc. are losing their best staff members. There are many jobs that are vital to your community that can't pay their employees $200k/year. Think government, retail, environmental services. Without affordable housing, these people are moving to communities like Monterey, and Salinas, where they can work AND live. Nobody wants to spend their live in a car. Nobody wants to commute from the Bay Area to Modesto. They do it because they think they have to. I want to spend my free time going to school, so I can get a better paying job, so I'm not relying on anybody but myself. I can't do that if I am commuting 4 hours a day and working full time. Think beyond yourself. Think beyond your little sheltered view of the world.

Finally, I am a US citizen. I have a constitutional right to live in my vehicle. Palo Alto and L. A. both tried to ban vehicle living. SCOTUS had the final word.


ivg
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Mar 6, 2016 at 8:33 am
ivg, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Mar 6, 2016 at 8:33 am
7 people like this

@mvresident2003: Not so smug, not so fast. I saw your comment the day you posted it, but just haven't had time to reply until now.

You make a good point. Market forces are real. I don't claim the right to live wherever I want. Any major city has exclusive enclaves, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. This is a hot-button issue for me because it's just the tip of the iceberg of the broader housing problem.

1) Far from just having exclusive enclaves, the entire Bay Area is now an exclusive enclave. Even "troubled" neighborhoods like East Palo Alto or West Oakland are gentrifying like there's no tomorrow. This may or may not bother you ipso facto, but think about what will happen when people like teachers, waiters and ambulance drivers can't afford to live here anymore, here or within an hour's commute.

2) If you're going to say that people like our friend @Marzipan have no right to form a permanent encampment on a public right-of-way, let's talk about why it is that homeowners in residential areas have a right to bar property owners on El Camino and other major streets from building apartment buildings with 10 or even 6 stories.


mvresident2003
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm
mvresident2003, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Mar 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm
19 people like this

@ivg

1) the entire Bay Area is not an exclusive "enclave". And what's wrong with gentrifying? You think it's good to maintain, encourage and support slums, drug infested areas and crime? Sorry, I don't. I'm all for pushing that WAY out of here. Harsh? I guess it is for someone who's lowered their standards to think its OK, but it's not for me.

And to bring your favorite phrase back into play here "exclusive enclave"......that's what I thought when I first moved here 15 years ago from the Midwest. Ridiculously. Expensive, no fair, never be able to afford it. But I worked, I saved, I gave up other things so I could stay here, I love it so much. NEVER did I expect others to subside my desire to be here.

2). It's called zoning laws, look it up.


ivg
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Mar 10, 2016 at 8:14 am
ivg, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Mar 10, 2016 at 8:14 am
6 people like this

@mvresident2003:

I know it's called zoning laws, and I did in fact look it up. The original Supreme Court decisions that upheld zoning dealt with factories in residential areas, and buildings so big they actually blocked light from entering their neighbors' windows. Extending that to four-story height limits on El Camino sounds like a stretch to me.

And, personally, I share your attitude to gentrification: I would rather have some hipsters and a Porshe-driving executive down the street than crack dens and gang safehouses. But here's the thing: it's not what the people want who live there now. It's easy to zone a city to make it only accessible only to the wealthy. I don't think there's any legal way to keep it accessible to menial laborers. Most of the people who live in "run-down" areas are not in fact criminals or drug users.

As far as your personal experience, what I hear you saying is that yes, it's ridiculously expensive, but since you made it (at a time when the economy was slow), so should everyone else. I suppose you bought a house? My rent has gone up 60% in five years.

And as far as subsidies: I agree that the car-dwellers are taking advantage of a publicly owned space to solve their personal financial problems. I also heartily believe (although this hasn't come up yet in this discussion) that subsidies for below-market housing are just robbing Peter to pay Paul and quite destructive in the long run. But the demand for RV parking spaces, and the demand for subsidized housing, are both greatly exacerbated by our restrictive zoning laws. If we let in a little more free market, housing wouldn't cost so much that people would resort to desperate measures.


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