News

Housing advocates expect to overturn parking ban

Deadline nears but referendum expected to gain 3,700 signatures

Housing advocates said Wednesday that they plan to deliver a referendum petition with thousands of voter signatures to City Hall later this week in an effort to overturn a sweeping RV ban that they see as an attack on the homeless.

If the referendum qualifies, it would force the City Council to rescind last month's action to prohibit large vehicles from parking on most streets in Mountain View. If the council wishes to pursue the RV ban, it would need to go before voters to decide.

The referendum takes aim at an ordinance passed on Oct. 22 that banned all vehicles more than 7 feet high, 7 feet wide or 22 feet long from parking on most city streets. Under the proposed rules, this ban is expected to close nearly all of Mountain View's suburban neighborhoods to large vehicles, including RVs and trailers.

While presented by city officials as a traffic safety measure, the parking ban was widely interpreted as a crackdown on the city's surging homeless population. For years, the number of homeless individuals in Mountain View has been growing, and the most visible sign of it has been several large encampments where people live out of their vehicles.

Ever since the parking ban was first proposed, advocates with the Housing Justice Coalition warned they would work to overturn it. Under city rules, ordinances approved by the City Council do not take effect for 30 days, and they can be overturned through a citizen petition process. To qualify, a referendum petition must include signatures from about 10% of the registered voters in Mountain View, which equates to more than 3,700 individuals.

Housing Justice Coalition members have been working around the clock to collect signatures ever since the council's decision, said Edie Keating, an organizer with the group. About 100 volunteers with Housing Justice and the Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America have been stationed outside supermarkets, Caltrain stops and other hot spots to solicit people to sign the petition, she said.

As of Wednesday morning, Nov. 20, Housing Justice members say they had collected more than 3,300 signatures, or about 400 short of what is needed to qualify. They were optimistic that they could close the gap before a Friday deadline.

Former Councilman Lenny Siegel, who is helping organize the referendum, said it would be a close call but he was confident they would reach the goal.

"I think we can get it -- our fingers are crossed," he said. "There are some people who support this ban, but when you talk to them, what they really want is a solution. They really just want to find a place for people to live."

When the referendum petition is submitted, the City Clerk's Office will perform an initial count to verify that it has enough signatures. If it passes muster, the petition will be brought to the county Registrar of Voters for signature verification.

Upon verification by elections officials, the City Council at their next regular meeting must either repeal the entire ordinance or bring it forward to voters to decide on.

Even if the referendum fails, the city parking ban could still be challenged on legal grounds. As the council considered the ordinance, a coalition of civil rights attorneys warned that they were ready to file a lawsuit arguing the city's restrictions are unconstitutional.

Mountain View city officials have been working to expand a safe parking program at various sites across the city where people living out of their vehicles could sleep overnight. By the numbers, these safe parking sites will not be able to accommodate the hundreds of people currently living out of their vehicles any time in the near future.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Grab the popcorn
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2019 at 1:28 pm

The comments in here are about to be interesting.


16 people like this
Posted by Lenny Siegel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 21, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Lenny Siegel is a registered user.

If you want to sign the petition tonight (Thursday, November 21), show up at Panera between 7 and 9 pm. Your last chance will be 4 pm tomorrow (Friday, November 22) outside City Hall when we turn in the petitions.


198 people like this
Posted by In back of Nob Hill
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Why not have the petitions signed in the back of nob hill where the stench of urine is so pungent and strong that you can smell it 100 feet away from the rotting RV source, also leaking out massive puddles of oil to be washed into the bay.

Without exaggeration, it's a public health issue.


4 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 21, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

@ In back of Nob Hill:

Because the council's ban affects street parking, how is the problem behind Nob Hill related? Isn't that private property, controlled by whatever organization owns/manages that shopping center?


157 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 21, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

Regardless of what you may think regarding homelessness, the RVs are a public nuisance, because of their size. There have been multiple times where I have been unable to safely navigate our streets because of their presence. The ordinance specifically legislates vehicle size, not use. The ordinance mentions nothing about living in a car, van, etc.


130 people like this
Posted by Challenge
a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 21, 2019 at 2:54 pm

Challenge is a registered user.

We need to challenge every signature on this list. I saw them collecting signatures at the train station and they were not checking whether people were Mountain View voters.


209 people like this
Posted by In back of Nob Hill
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2019 at 2:58 pm

In back of Nob Hill is a registered user.

By having the petition signed in the back of Nob Hill, the voters will have an understanding of what to expect. Sort of a "Here's what you can expect on the street. This is what you'll be voting for."


159 people like this
Posted by Travelled the world
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Nov 21, 2019 at 4:36 pm

Travelled the world is a registered user.

Petition probably signed by those who don’t have to live, walk , drive by them everyday.


8 people like this
Posted by Consider the implications
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 21, 2019 at 6:39 pm

Consider the implications is a registered user.

It is thoughtless and cruel to establish a paradigm where people live in the streets. It may sound virtuous to give up the streets for people to live-in.

But providing slumps will make it so that employers have to pay less for workers and they will be trapped in this dismal life.

It is better to provide rent subsidies for reasonable accommodation in special cases and have some people move away. Employers will need worker and will pay more.


136 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 21, 2019 at 9:51 pm

Local is a registered user.

Anyone who signed this should personally welcome RVs parking in front of their own homes - [portion removed] human waste into the streets and storm drains, "borrowing" water from their hoses, using MV taxpayer funds to police and clean around them [portion removed.] The street dwellers do not pay property tax to Mountain View, so this is a hefty expense to those of us who do pay property tax.
The over $2M in our taxpayer funds already spent on this problem, would be much better spent towards housing the few actual previous MV citizens who now live this way. Those from other cities, should have their cities helping them - we cannot save the entire Bay Area. For example, the Sunnyvale police suggest to their RV dwellers that they should go to MV, as we don't prohibit street dwelling. So, if Mr. Siegel wants to threaten MV with a lawsuit, it will go no where because only suing MV will be thrown out of court. It is inconsistent to sue only one city, when most of the Bay Area is even more restrictive.


7 people like this
Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:13 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] The city itself states that most of the vehicle dwellers are employed in the city or were former residents who were priced out, so where are you getting your "facts"?


107 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:29 pm

Local is a registered user.

Frank Richards, [portion removed] perhaps you could give why you're in favor of RVs on the street, and welcome them to your address?
The police who cover the RVs will give you the information on the criminal element [portion removed] and the numbers of out of town (and some even out of state) living in this way. Even newspaper articles have interviewed people from out of state and many from out of our county. [Portion removed.]
The City has NOT stated that the majority work here or formerly live here, you are wrong again. That's why the proposed vetting process, which is part of the new proposal, is so important. With the vetting, we can get a manageable number of local residents that we can work with to be housed. Nobody should have to live this way on the streets.


3 people like this
Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] You can check the meeting packets, nowhere did any city staff cite your [portion removed] figures about criminals [portion removed.] What they have said is that the vast majority of vehicle residents are employed here or are former residents.

I think we should ask our local charity leagues what they think about criminalizing the living situations of the most vulnerable members of our community in the midst of a city-declared shelter crisis! Surely they would be shocked!


79 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:55 pm

Local is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

I have been to the meetings as well as I have talked directly to the two policemen monitoring this situation. I suggest you do the same [portion removed.]


72 people like this
Posted by In back of Nob Hill
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2019 at 9:02 am

In back of Nob Hill is a registered user.

All signatures must be from Mtn View registered voters in order to be valid.
If they get 1000 of those it deserves to be on the ballot, but I don't give it much hope of getting a majority of voters to vote for it if it ever makes it there.


87 people like this
Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 22, 2019 at 10:02 am

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

I doubt that either Frank Richards or Lenny Siegel have allowed the squatters to inhabit their immediate residential area. Taking the word of the police as to the types of people living in these RVs is too much for either of these men. It doesn't fit their narrative. They are much happier living in their bubble, thinking the RV dwellers are all noble. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 11:03 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Santa Rita Mom, the police have explicitly stated that these "types of people" commit crimes at a lower rate than the average single-family home dweller in the city. Folks like you stomping your feet and insisting otherwise shows how you have no facts supporting your position. Show me a single statement from the Mountain View police that supports what you're saying.

It speaks volumes that you think that these people, who the city admits are mostly employed in the city or former residents, don't "pull their own weight."


66 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 11:44 am

Waldo is a registered user.

@ Frank Richards:

Regarding RV dweller crime, how's this?

"Teenagers had recently been harassed along Crisanto Avenue by people living out of their vehicles, she wrote, and a woman living out of an RV near Cuesta Park was arrested on Wednesday for selling heroin." Web Link


35 people like this
Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 22, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

@Waldo

Thanks for the information. I suppose Frank Richards will commence stamping his feet, since this information goes against his desired narrative.

As for pulling their weight, if they don't pay property tax, they don't. And don't say other renters are the same. They pay taxes through their rent. School, fire, police. All free and the ACLU forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.

Must be nice, especially for the ones who are saving for retirement.


2 people like this
Posted by russian_redneck
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 22, 2019 at 3:38 pm

russian_redneck is a registered user.

I frequently bike to work or to the store. RVs do block some bike lanes but the *vast majority* of blocking is from other vehicles, e.g. along California street. The worst are uber/lyft who will unexpectedly pull out and are thus dangerous. Stationary RVs are ... predictably static.
Let's bulldoze that golf course along hwy-237, boom, lots of space to park.


4 people like this
Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Waldo,

Regarding single-family home dweller crime, how's this?

Web Link
Web Link

I suppose Santa Rita Mom will commence stamping her feet, since this information goes against her desired narrative.


37 people like this
Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 22, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

@Frank Richards

How are your posts at all relevant? Neither article supports your(incorrect) contention that RV dweller crime is less than crime committed by others or that the police have said anything that supports your (again incorrect) claim that RV dwellers are all innocent of all criminal activity.

All your data does is confirm that we already have enough crime in the area from people who are actual residents and at least pay, in part, for the police who have to deal with them. We don't need to import more from out of the area who don't even partially defray the costs of dealing with their criminal activity.

I don't need to stamp my feet. I'm busy shaking my head at your foolishness.


2 people like this
Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 25, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Even today, here's yet another event in the scourge of single-family home dweller crime: Web Link

As a more reasonable person not fear-mongering, perhaps we shouldn't judge people's inherent criminality based on their living situation.

How's that, Waldo, Santa Rita Mom, Local?


21 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 25, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

@ Frank Richards:

Really? Your latest submission proves something? You do realize that the number of people living in oversized vehicles is relatively small, while the number of Mountain View residents living in (tax paying) real homes is relatively large...right? It's a ratio of about 80,000 to 400, or two hundred to one. In other words, to prove your point, you need to provide 200 examples of permanent resident criminality for every example of RV dweller criminality. Maybe you already knew this, and are simply trying fool Waldo, Santa Rita Mom, and Local. You kidder.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Legends Pizza Co. replaces Palo Alto Pizza Co.
By Elena Kadvany | 7 comments | 2,384 views

Premarital and Couples: 10 Tips for the Holidays
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,193 views

What is a "ton" of carbon dioxide anyway?
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 2,118 views

 

Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Voice readers and the Wakerly, Packard and Hewlett foundations contributed a total of $72,000.

DONATE