In the coming weeks, Mountain View will begin the long task of installing close to 2,600 "no parking" signs across the majority of the city's streets, banning RVs and oversized vehicles from parking along public roadways.
City officials say the undertaking is expected to begin in early or mid-July, delivering on a voter-approved measure to prohibit large vehicles from parking on 444 of the city's 525 streets. Though the measure was ostensibly about traffic safety, advocates on both sides openly acknowledged Measure C as a means to reduce the growing number of homeless people living in vehicles.
The ordinance, which was put into place in December 2020 but has yet to be enforced, restricts "oversized" vehicles from parking on streets that are 40 feet wide or less. The prohibition includes any vehicles that exceed 22 feet in length, 7 feet in height and 7 feet in width, encompassing RVs and trailers. The benchmark for narrow streets is so broad that 83% of the city's streets qualify, leaving only a few locations open for RVs to park. City officials say there will be in-person outreach to people living in vehicles in the area with how to access the city's safe parking sites, which have been at or near full capacity over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The information pamphlets include contact info for homeless shelters and mobile showers and medical services.
A July 2020 survey found 14 inhabited vehicles on San Ramon Avenue and 26 on Wentworth Avenue and Gemini Street, which would be affected by the first wave of enforcement.
The plan this month is to focus specifically on the northwest area of the city, installing signs north of Central Expressway and west of Shoreline Boulevard -- encompassing the Monta Loma and Rex Manor neighborhoods. From there, the city-hired contractor will install signs in the Moffett and Whisman neighborhoods to the east before rotating to Sylvan Park and Waverly Park to the south, followed by Cuesta Park and Blossom Valley.
The San Antonio and Del Medio area, where close to 70 inhabited vehicles are located along Crisanto Avenue, will be in the final phase of the parking prohibitions.
In the lead-up to the ordinance, civil rights attorneys condemned the idea as a means to oust homeless people living in vehicles and a violation of Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. But there are no references to the homeless in Measure C, meaning any targeting of the unhoused would be inferred from comments by the City Council and the public.
The City Council passed the parking prohibitions in October 2019, but it was immediately challenged and subject to a voter referendum, forcing the council to place it on the ballot during the November presidential election last year. The measure passed with nearly 57% of the vote, and was reinstated in December.
Shortly after the election, it was revealed that rolling out the parking prohibitions would cost an estimated $980,000. Though city officials said in the lead-up to the election that they did not have a list of specific streets that would be affected by the ban, a full list was available just days after the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters certified the election results.
The bulk of the costs comes not from the signs themselves, but the installation. Trying to install thousands of signs along 1,035 city blocks would heavily delay enforcement of Measure C, prompting City Council members to contract out the services. Installation is estimated to cost $632,000.
Under the original timeline, sign installation was supposed to begin in April and finish in November. But delays in manufacturing the signs and determining where to place them on city streets had pushed the start date multiple times, with the launch finally expected to begin this month. City Council members said the April 2021 start time balanced both the COVID-19 public health concerns and acknowledging the will of the voters to faithfully enact the parking restrictions.