The Mountain View City Council will consider a sweeping ban on oversized vehicles parking along most streets across the city at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 24. The new ordinance is being presented by city officials as a traffic safety measure, but the action is largely perceived as an effort aimed at sequestering the city's homeless population living out of RVs and trailers.
The ordinance being presented by city staff goes far beyond previous iterations of parking bans. The city was previously considering an overnight parking ban, but this new proposal calls for prohibiting oversized vehicle parking for all hours of the day.
According to the city's prepared maps, this change would end up blocking off dozens of miles of streets across Mountain View. Nearly all of the city's single-family-home neighborhoods, including Waverly Park, Cuesta Park and Old Mountain View, would be off-limits for large vehicle parking.
Meanwhile, the maps indicate the ordinance would leave various pockets throughout town with no parking restrictions. These pockets, where homeless individuals would likely end up assembling, are located mostly in the city's industrial, commercial and apartment districts.
As written, the ordinance may set the stage for city officials picking which neighborhoods will shoulder the city's encampments of inhabited vehicles. In past meetings, City Council members made it clear they were trying to avoid this kind of decision.
The proposed ordinance and staff report make little mention of homelessness; instead the city's analysis focuses on the traffic dangers associated with large vehicles lining the streets and obstructing visibility. Traffic accidents have been on the rise throughout Mountain View, but city police have not cited oversized vehicles as a contributing factor.
Civil rights attorneys and homeless advocates have called out city officials for using the parking ban as a way to deny a place for people living out of vehicles. In a letter sent to the city earlier this month, various legal groups warned they would challenge the city in court if the vehicle ban goes forward.
If approved, the new city parking ban would likely begin around January. City officials say they would need at least three months to manufacture and install up to 200 new parking signs.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, the City Council is also scheduled to discuss new regulations for opening new safe-parking sites around the city.