Citywide RV ban to be considered by council Tuesday


The Mountain View City Council on Tuesday, June 11, will consider an oversized vehicle ban intended to restrict the number of people living out of motor homes and trailers on city streets. The proposed ordinance comes in spite of warnings from civil rights attorneys that the action would be unconstitutional because it would essentially criminalize the city’s homeless population.

Homelessness has surged across the Bay Area in recent years, and for Mountain View that trend has been marked by dense encampments of people living out of their vehicles. City officials believe more than 290 inhabited cars are parked on city streets, and that number is likely an undercount. Santa Clara County figures released last month show homelessness countywide has increased 31% in 2019, although new data specific to Mountain View is not yet available.

In response to ongoing complaints from residents, the Mountain View City Council in March voted to enact a citywide ban on large vehicles, although some of the plan’s specifics were left unclear. Many of those details are now fleshed out in a new city staff report prepared for the Tuesday meeting.

If elected leaders desired, the city could move to ban large vehicles as soon as this September, according to the report. Previously, council members had indicated they wanted a long runway before they enact the ban, possibly a year or longer, in order to give ample time for people living out of their vehicles to relocate.

Mountain View officials have focused the proposed ban on large vehicles over 7 feet high, 7 feet wide or 22 feet in length. These oversized vehicles are being singled out by city officials because they cause obstructions and safety hazards for drivers and cyclists. As proposed, the city ordinance would ban these large vehicles from parking along the street for all hours of the day.

Last month, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley warned city officials that their proposed ban seemed to be tailored to push out the city’s poorest residents. Earlier this week, attorneys with the Stanford Community Law Clinic echoed similar concerns in their own letter to the city. The law groups warned the city that any ordinance that tries to penalize homelessness would be a civil rights violation because the city hasn’t provided a viable alternative.

In light of that concern, Mountain View officials at the same Tuesday meeting are planning a significant expansion of the city’s safe parking program. The expansion would involve new safe parking sites at one parking lot at Shoreline Amphitheatre and a parking lot recently acquired from VTA. Together these sites could accommodate about 40 large vehicles starting this November.

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349 people like this
Posted by They haven't sued other cities
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm

The ACLU's letter was just that, a letter. If they truly cared about this issue they could have brought los altos or sunnyvale to court many years ago.
The ACLU seems to have no issue with those cities laws so lets just craft our similarly and we can all move on.

11 people like this
Posted by Mountain View is Different
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Mountain View is Different is a registered user.

Mountain View frequently makes the national news radar simply because we have Google headquartered here.

If the town that houses Google, one of the companies causing the problems of expensive rent/housing, wants to enact legislation banning vehicle dwelling, then that rightfully will shine the spotlight where it belongs. Mountain View deserves to be sued for this. I hope the City Council comes to their fiduciary senses and doesn't test the limits of the constitutionality of banning poverty.

343 people like this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm

I’m glad that our City Council is finally doing something about this. Our City has become a destination for RV’s, and has to stop. Not only are they a safety hazard but also a sanitary one. Enough is enough!

7 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Compassion in action. #MVCityCouncil

307 people like this
Posted by RoxieK
a resident of Slater
on Jun 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm

THANK YOU city council members! Mountain View has a population of at least 74,000 residents with plans to expand by another 15 to 20,000. Those residents do and will pay their rent, their mortgage and property taxes and have a right to have THEIR rights looked after as well. If the city really wants people living in RVs, it should create a proper RV park and charge rent. Get them off the street.

Does anyone remember way back, oh gosh, 2 years ago when we were all rationing water because there wasn't enough. Menlo Park is considering a moratorium on commercial development if it hasn't done so already. Perhaps Mountain View should as well. It's time to slow down.

271 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm

What’s to capitulate? Get the laws up and running ASAP. 60 days. This is not ‘criminalizing poverty’ this is democratic. We pay taxes and have city infrastructure expectations for public health and safety. The residents of Mt View are the victims here subject to sub health and safety standards. Plus if one doesn’t make a lockable wage, why would anyone be in one of the most expensive cities in the area? Why even stay in California it’s an expensive state. If one doesn’t like the lifestyle here and can’t maintain it there are a million places in USA to go. The ONLY thing they need to focus on is housing for Teachers / Educational and government support staff. RVs need to GO ASAP.

240 people like this
Posted by No Waffling
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 7, 2019 at 3:12 pm

I SINCERELY hope that Council acts upon what they've heard the past 1-2 years from residents, and are not swayed by what's likely to be a crowd of RV proponents in Council Chambers on Tuesday.

Mountain View residents VERY CLEARLY expressed their feelings in last Fall's election. Those folks likely will not be coming to the meeting...but their passion on this issue has not changed. They've already made their views known, and expect council members to have a memory and stand by their words. Moreover, if those residents are following the news (and aren't blindsided by a reversal next week), they don't feel compelled to attend.

We need a council that stands strong...recognizes the will of the majority, and can be trusted to stand by their words. Remember that a room of 100 speakers makes up about one tenth of one percent of Mountain View's population.

470 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 7, 2019 at 3:37 pm

It is about time this ban was enforced. There are already laws about parking more than 72 hours on a public street. The rights of the residents are being infringed upon.

The actual residents have rights here. The people in these vehicles are NOT residents. They don't pay taxes and they use city services that the actual residents pay for. It is time for them to move along. If the city cared about having appropriate resources for the people here, they would not have sold our water rights to Palo Alto, then continued to want to build. More residents and no more water = more money the city will charge because THEY make poor decisions.

If the ACLU think these folks have a right to squat on city streets, then I suggest that they supply us with their addresses so the RVs can go park in front of THEIR residences. I want the LAW enforced. Being poor doesn't give people special ability to break the law and it doesn't give anyone the right to set up camp in a public street. If you can't afford to live here, then you have to move to where you can afford to live. I had to work hard and save to afford to live here. If I didn't, I'd live elsewhere. If the city wants them here, then they need to figure out where they can go WITHOUT having the residents pay for it. We already pay enough taxes, more every year, and get fewer and fewer services all the time.

It's time that the residents were treated as something other than the cash cow that the city council uses for their social justice projects.

21 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 7, 2019 at 4:25 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Dear Mountain View, Los Altos, and Palo Alto City Council Members:

There is an easy solution to this entire issue. Simply make being poor illegal.

If those families living in R.V.'s don't meet a certain level of wealth then simply arrest them. Mothers, fathers, children . . . all of them.

There are many places in both California and Nevada where a large encampment for these unwanted people can be placed. Manzanar might be a rather touchy subject but it was a very cheap way to corral a lot of folks on the cheap. We KNOW how to do this. We've done it before.

That being said . . .

. . . now it's time to speak the truth. These R.V. folks are members our community. The vast majority of them are employed, sometimes with multiple jobs. But because we're a capitalistic economy they simply do not make enough to afford even the least expensive housing.

Housing that would have been affordable a few years ago has, entirely due to greed, become so expensive that it has been forcing people, former tenants, (entire families in some cases) onto the street or into an R.V.

So until these capitalistic [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] that raise rents to unheard of levels, justifying it by claiming "Market Forces," decide to change their focus NOTHING is going to get fixed.

City Councils can chat and fuss about rent control but in every single case those laws have proven to be a long term disaster for all concerned. What we need is for our landlords to THINK about our neighbors, TAKE CARE OF our neighbors and CARE about the entire community . . .

. . . and quit trying to glean the last bloody nickle our of their customers - their tenants. They are the reason that people are living in R.V.'s

229 people like this
Posted by No more
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 7, 2019 at 5:25 pm

There’s no reason for us to have any different set of rules than our neighbors. If you can’t park RVs or live out of a van next door you certainly can’t here either.

I vote in my beloved city and I’ll vote anyone out of office who drags their feet on this any more.

292 people like this
Posted by ShorelineWestDude
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 7, 2019 at 7:21 pm

ShorelineWestDude is a registered user.

The people have spoken.
Get the RVs off our streets within 60 days
or vote the current crop of council members out of office.
We did it before, and we certainly can do it again!

This issue has nothing to do with compassion for the homeless, renters rights,or any other left-leaning misdirection cues.

This is an issue of safety, blight, sanitation and the common good for the vast majority of Mountain View residents.
As someone posed a question here recently, "has our government gone insane?" allow this situation to continue and even get worse for so long?

If Mountain View wants to propose an RV park and our council can convince the voters to pay for it, that is the route to try.
Our neighboring cities have not done this, so here is your big chance to massage your progressive socialist guilt complex.

532 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 7, 2019 at 8:18 pm

We'll get the usual posts by James Thurber (above) and the like - uninformed and baseless. Ask the police, who are assigned to the RV dwellers, about what goes on in many of these RVs: gun and drug rings, prostitution, etc. And they can do nothing about it unless they see it in action!

The majority of RV residents have never been a resident of Mountain View, but come here for free services that are provided by actual Mountain View taxpayers. Now Oakland has prohibited RV dwellers on their streets and you can bet they'll be moving here too. There are even people from out of state that have moved here for free parking and services. There are contractors who dump non-working RVs on our streets and rent them out to their laborers, who then go to their home city on the weekends. There are well-off Google engineers who live in very nice RVs on our streets because they don't want to pay rent, or property tax to Mountain View. All of this has been clearly documented in our local Mercury and even the MV Voice.

As I understand it, there are 10-12 school children living this way in Mountain View. If we took the (so far) $1.6+ million of our tax dollars that we've spent on these street dwellers, and spent it exclusively on these families with children, we could get them housed. The legitimate former residents of Mountain View, the working families, are my concern and who I would love to help. Those that merely moved here because MV is such an easy mark for free services, can go elsewhere. The empty threat by the ACLU is even weaker because of their inconsistency. If they are going to sue MV, they better first take on all the other cities on the Peninsula whose prohibition sent all THEIR street dwellers to Mountain View.

If our Council chooses to build an RV park, I would expect it to be for verifiable prior MV residents only, and they should be paying rent to cover the services provided. This last election made the will of the people abundantly clear, and I cannot imagine this Council is unaware of that.

20 people like this
Posted by Very Interested
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 7, 2019 at 9:00 pm

Interested, care to share how it feels to have worked so long and hard on making sure the poor will be evicted from your sight and be so close to succeeding? It must feel really great for you to see these families tossed out.

13 people like this
Posted by With neighbors like these...
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 11:02 pm

“I got mine, to hell with anyone else” in disgusting detail on display in this thread. I hope when the next bubble bursts and you all find yourselves on the rocks, you will be taken care of and treated with dignity even though you’re incapable of it yourselves.

57 people like this
Posted by WhyStayHere
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2019 at 4:22 am

If the bubble bursts, I'd immediately leave the area. Especially if I had all my stuff already packed into a vehicle.

I'd drive somewhere else with a much cheaper cost of living, and I'd rent there, or buy a small house for a small down payment.

I absolutely wouldn't stay in an extremely expensive place simply because I used to afford it. And I certainly would demand that people support me staying in a very expensive place. I don't believe I should be entitled to that.

59 people like this
Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 8, 2019 at 6:02 am

A lot of the people living in RVs are not former MV renters. I suspect some of the 'compassionate' posters in reality are RV 'landlords' that are getting money by renting vehicles to the people who want to make a quick buck and move away.
Web Link

16 people like this
Posted by Very Interested
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 8, 2019 at 9:36 am

It says a lot more about you folks that caring for your fellow human beings is so alien and unfathomable to you that you need to invent conspiracy theories about people who disagree with you.

20 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 8, 2019 at 2:27 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Dear Interested

I am uninformed and mostly baseless (whatever that means). But I'm also a retired school teacher. An associate teacher in East Palo Alto had something like a third of her students technically homeless.

All I'm asking for is a reasonable economic scenario in The Bay Area. Market Forces be dammed - there's no need to put people on the street.

In my little neighborhood in Mountain View (on Snow Street) many homes are now being rented not by a single family but by multiple tech workers - all of whom have vehicles - and the entire neighborhood is changing. For the better? Not in my (baseless) book.

But I have learned after sixty-seven (67) years that one voice can't make much difference . . . so with that small statement . . . I rest my case.

27 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 8, 2019 at 4:47 pm

The vitriol expressed in many of these comments is heartbreaking. Is it a crime to trying to live on the minimum wage? Those of us who were fortunate enough to buy houses decades ago when even someone who earned $8000/year, like me, could afford a down payment, reasonable monthly mortgage rates, and be a homeowner after 30 years might have some compassion for hardworking people who have been priced out of even studio apartments by ever-rising rents. Of course a safe parking place with showers, rest rooms, and laundry facilities would be a big step in the right direction, though of course the vehicle dwellers shouldn't be forced out by 7 am and not allowed to return till 7 pm. What happens to the children in that time frame? One of the comments says it's not about compassion; I think it definitley is. Why are many people so angry? so uncaring? so unsympathetic?

26 people like this
Posted by Very Interested
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 8, 2019 at 7:12 pm

Susan, it's outcome of the untenable cognitive dissonance that comes from these folks thinking the reason they live in a million dollar house is solely due to their own hard work while seeing regular people like themselves living out of their vehicles. It leads to them branding all the vehicle dwellers as gun-runners, prostitutes, rich Google employees, and I'm sure even cannibals at some point.

Vehicle dwellers have to be bad people and their circumstances have to be their fault, otherwise people in this comments section would have to admit that the community as a whole bears responsibility for the housing crisis.

17 people like this
Posted by mel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2019 at 8:25 pm

someone said

Why are many people so angry? so uncaring? so unsympathetic?

good question

these are uncertain times for everyone with unprecidented inequality in wealth and income and countless stories of previously secure individuals and families crashing into poverty - it is more and more clear it could happen to anyone.

this cam make one afraid - is there some denial going on? as we bash those who
crashed - it has to be their fault - if not , if it is a pr0oduct of our economy and if i can happen to me through no fault of my own !!! that would be too much to contemplate. aint gonna happen to me i am not like them

unfortunately if you get to know those who crashed they are a lot like me

40 people like this
Posted by dont go away mad
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2019 at 10:27 pm

dont go away mad is a registered user.

drive west on mercy street. When you get to shoreline blvd to make a right turn I can’t see around the motor homes parked on shoreline. If on coming traffic is moving quickly and hits you, it’s your fault for pulling into traffic. That’s the scenario I come across everyday. It’s getting old. Can’t we find a solution?

38 people like this
Posted by Simpler Solution
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2019 at 9:50 pm

Just ban overnight street parking. It’s universally applied and non-discriminatory. No enforcement headaches in contrast to the 72 hour rule. If it’s there after 2am, it gets a warning and license plate number recorded. Second offense and off to the recycler it goes.

7 people like this
Posted by Whirling
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Whirling is a registered user.

We need adults willing to accept low wage jobs (~$42k / yr) to work in Mountain View (e.g., retail store managers, people who clean houses). Reading this and other threads, though, I see that some vocal residents prefer low-paid workers with families live elsewhere (since a very small studio apartment costs $2.5k/mo) or generally just do not think much about these people's lives and livelihoods. I think it short-sighted and unjustly selfish to focus solely on the RVs and not worry about how to care for people who serve our community. Already I notice we have poor customer service in this area. Many workers with great skills and work ethics go where they needn't drive forever to get to work. Shorten these people's commutes or the few good ones left will stop working here.

Y'all have lived with a privileged life or privileged mind for too long.

To "Ok," if you seriously are so cynical as to believe that one must have a stake in something to be sympathetic, I hope you're not the only one around if I am injured in the street.

3 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:26 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Dear Simpler Solution

Great idea - ban overnight street parking for ALL vehicles - RV's and automobiles included.

If you haven't got a garage or driveway then, voila, your car is GONE, vanished, recycled, crushed (ref: Goldfinger).

I continue to be uninformed and baseless but, more important, I don't own a car!

Best wishes - Jim Thurber

2 people like this
Posted by mv dweller
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:51 pm

mv dweller is a registered user.

@james Thurber
I don't always agree with you but I appreciate your arguments. Please don't let one [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] comment affect you.

7 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 11, 2019 at 10:29 am

James Thurber is a registered user.

Dear (partially deleted) My Dweller

Negative comments never bother me. After a career as a Navy pilot, a police officer and, finally, a public school teacher I've had my share. Although sticks and stones might break my bones, but words can break my heart . . . I'm hard of hearing . . . heh heh.

Keep those cards and letter coming and I'll keep commenting about things I feel are RELEVANT to our community - both large and small.

And I adore living in Mountain View, too.

18 people like this
Posted by ShorelineWestDude
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 13, 2019 at 3:07 pm

ShorelineWestDude is a registered user.

hey, #mountain view is different,
you brought up a good point.

Why not ask google to build an RV park on their properties, or better yet, make a portion of their proposed worker housing plan available to these "homeless" RV dwellers?

However, I'm willing to bet many of the "dwellers" would avoid the accountability that comes with that, and pass on the offer.

Get them off our streets! Better yet, get them out of town, because most of these squatters are not former MV residents at all and many are engaged in other illegal activities.

Just ask a MV police officer 'on the beat' who these people really are.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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