Election results Wednesday show a comfortable lead for Measure C, Mountain View's prohibition on RV parking on narrow streets aimed at reducing the number of homeless people living in oversized vehicles.
As of 5 p.m., 12,489 votes had been counted in favor of the measure (57%), while 9,427 had been cast against (43%). The measure needs only a simple majority to pass. County officials say 62% of the ballots have been counted, and the city has just over 40,000 registered voters.
Though written as a traffic safety ordinance, Measure C is the city's attempt to curb the number of inhabited vehicles parked along public streets. For several years, city surveys have counted as many as 200 RVs believed to be inhabited throughout the city, largely a symptom of growing regional homelessness across the Bay Area. The latest count shows the most RVs primarily clustered along Crisanto Avenue, Continental Circle and Terra Bella Avenue.
If passed, the measure imposes a parking prohibition on all oversized vehicles on "narrow streets" less than 40 feet wide. City staff have yet to confirm which streets would be subject to the ban, but a preliminary map shows the vast majority of city streets will be included. A similar parking restriction on streets with bike lanes is already in effect.
On the campaign trail, proponents of Measure C describe inhabited RVs as a serious problem that must be addressed, pointing to reports of improper disposal of garbage and raw sewage. One website boosting Measure C described how the occupied cars and RVs amount to an off-the-grid neighborhood bringing "unknown individuals" to the city.
Many of the claims are backed only by anecdotal evidence, with sparse data from the city to confirm or deny that problems are widespread.
Resident Albert Jeans, a supporter of Measure C, said he was glad to see the measure was slated to pass Tuesday night, and that he believes there was a sort of silent majority of city residents in support of the measure. He suspects that residents supporting the measure, particularly a strong contingent of voters south of El Camino, were intimidated from speaking out at council meetings on the issue of inhabited RVs.
Jeans, who lives near the cluster of RVs parked on Terra Bella Avenue, said he believes that the vehicles are not inhabited by local residents who have been displaced by the housing crisis, but are instead coming from out of town to settle in Mountain View due to the city's lax parking standards.
"We have to do something about these people who are just coming in and taking advantage of Mountain View's past compassionate view towards RV dwellers," Jeans said.
Opponents of Measure C have argued that most RV residents have ties to Mountain View and that the parking restrictions lack compassion and amount to a ban on homelessness, pushing people in abject poverty out of the city or out of their makeshift homes and onto the street.
Resident Joan MacDonald, speaking on behalf of the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition, thanked the over 9,000 Mountain View voters who opposed Measure C. She said the group hopes the City Council will be open to ways that will allow RV residents to remain in Mountain View, particularly during a pandemic that has depressed the incomes of vehicle dwellers and increased their health risks.