News

Mountain View poised to roll out RV ban this month, prohibiting oversized vehicles on most city streets

RVs will soon be prohibited from parking on Crisanto Avenue, where dozens of homeless residents have found shelter in large vehicles. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Mountain View poised to roll out RV ban this month, prohibiting oversized vehicles on most city streets

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 1:37 pm

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.

Comments

Tim
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2021 at 3:38 pm
Tim, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Banning RVs and oversized vehicles is a cruel mistake. Where are those people going to go, Mountain View? RV dwellers are the same folks who work in our grocery stores, dry cleaners, coffee houses, restaurants, and so on. They are not homeless, they're houseless. Rents are outrageously high. Those RVs are their homes. Due to high gasoline costs, for many, commuting is not an option. Mountain View needs to prove it can be more compassionate.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 6, 2021 at 4:32 pm
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2021 at 4:32 pm

Humans: "What should we do about all our fellow citizens who have nowhere to live, or who have ended up living in mobile housing?"

Late-stage capitalism: "Criminalize homelessness, displace those in mobile housing because 'out of sight, out of mind.'"

I note the MV Voice just casually slid in the phrase, "...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." In other words, "We're kicking them out even though we acknowledge they have no place to go."

Homelessness is a multifactorial problem that can't be solved at the city level, or probably even the county level. But actively harming our homeless brothers and sisters is pathological and cruel.


Greg David
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2021 at 5:17 pm
Greg David, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2021 at 5:17 pm

Don’t forget that this was prompted by a vote by the people of Mountain View. The same people that vote to keep California a one-party state with all the attached problems. I urge those of you that opposed this measure to open up your personal resources to these “houseless” people in need. You can allow them to park in your driveway and provide them with water, power, and access to a sanitary sewer. You can invite them to live in your home. Surely you have a spare bedroom? Instead of complaining about the will of the voters, perhaps offer a solution?


catabyte
Registered user
another community
on Jul 6, 2021 at 11:03 pm
catabyte, another community
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2021 at 11:03 pm

Hm. Maybe time for the city to take that $1M per unit cost for affordable housing off of Shoreline and build an RV-only parking garage on that land instead? Charge $100/month to park there?


Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on Jul 7, 2021 at 6:15 am
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2021 at 6:15 am

The mistake was allowing the homeless to park in the first place. The area between the day laborers and Rengstorff Park is an eyesore. And apparently, free parking will be allowed on 75 city streets. Now you've got an army of homeless people that you invited here.

I said I would live in Mountain View until the crime got out of control. Well, a guy was arrested for murder at the Valero on the corner, and a woman was found dead at Icon Theater, just a few steps away. City leaders want to turn Mountain View into another wealthy metropolis full of crime and violence. I'll be moving on.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Jul 7, 2021 at 2:49 pm
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2021 at 2:49 pm

Greg: Large societal problems can't be solved by individuals and suggesting otherwise in a "reduce to the ridiculous" proposition is a quasi-Libertarian bad-faith argument.

Tal: The woman found dead at the Icon Theater was a probable suicide, not a crime victim.

Your term "another wealthy metropolis full of crime and violence" is oxymoronic. Crime and violence are found in poor areas, not wealthy ones.

Unfortunately, an emergent property of our late-stage capitalism is that wealth gets concentrated ever-upward while increasingly large swaths of the population become poorer and more desperate. Any proposed "solution" that aims to punish and exclude poor people rather than addressing the societal and structural causes of their poverty is destined to expand and target an ever-increasing share of the population.


Peter
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2021 at 10:24 pm
Peter, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2021 at 10:24 pm

I welcome the day when Mountain View is no longer a destination for RVs from other City's and Counties, taking advantage of our City's liberal policies. Our City has done so much for RV's by creating safe parking sites. But thats not enough, and never will be with the take, take, take mentality: Give an inch, take a mile!
Here's an idea: Those who complain, and who own a house, can open their driveway for an RV to safely park; but I very much doubt that they will.


Linda Curtis
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2021 at 9:39 am
Linda Curtis, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jul 8, 2021 at 9:39 am

No one is “homeless” when living in their cozy, energy efficient home-on-wheels. Let them be!!!


Parks
Registered user
Castro City
on Jul 8, 2021 at 11:56 am
Parks, Castro City
Registered user
on Jul 8, 2021 at 11:56 am

I really feel like this article is one-sided. There is no mention of the very real safety issues having RV's lining our parks, blocking our bike lanes and leaking sewage has been having on our community. These are not trivial issues and they deserve a place in the discourse. This is a complex issue and our local journalists would do better to give some space to the reasons why the (very liberal) voters of MV passed this ordinance.


lan
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Jul 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm
lan, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm

And hopefully MVPD starts ticketing/towing abandoned vehicles. Huge problem on our street of cars and trailers that have not been moved in over a year.


Lenny Siegel2
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 10, 2021 at 12:20 pm
Lenny Siegel2, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 10, 2021 at 12:20 pm

@Parks. The so-called "Narrow Streets" ordinance, AKA Measure C, is different from the Bike-Lane ordinance. Housing Justice advocates did not oppose restrictions on oversized vehicles in bike lanes, so those have had signs for more than a year. Unfortunately, that hasn't kept delivery trucks from encroaching on the bike lanes.

To my knowledge, there is one park in Mountain View where people park motorhomes nearby: Rengstorff Park. If you talk to the vehicle residents there, you'll find that many park near the park because they want a place where their children can be outside.

As for leaking sewage, Mountain View has always enforced against that. It's better to have people living in vehicles with waste tanks than in cars or tents by the creeks.


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2021 at 1:59 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2021 at 1:59 pm

Rengsdorf was not the only city park affected. Until the bike lane ordinance was passed, Eagle Park was also encircled by RVs so that others could not access the park to play. Had the prior city council done anything to deal with the problems, like limit parking from anyone around city parks for 4 or 6 hours, the voters might not have been pushed to pass the current ordinance. It also caused a lot of traffic problems around that park as people tried to make turns onto Shoreline and couldn’t see around the line of oversized vehicles.


Lenny Siegel2
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2021 at 6:58 pm
Lenny Siegel2, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2021 at 6:58 pm

As I've said, I have no problems restricting large vehicles in bike lanes. But it's an exaggeration to say that motorhomes kept people from using Eagle Park.


Activist Socialist
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Jul 11, 2021 at 11:10 pm
Activist Socialist, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2021 at 11:10 pm

What a disgrace. NIMBYs are destroying this city one awful policy at a time. Time was that Mountain View was a welcoming city, but I guess the people here have decided we're better off turning into a gated community for the wealthy.


Tim
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Jul 12, 2021 at 12:29 pm
Tim, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2021 at 12:29 pm

After reading the responses to this article, here are thoughts to consider:

A recent article in the Los Altos Town Crier reported that the RV ban pertains to “narrow streets,” which account for 83 percent of the streets in Mountain View. This ban is bigger than the wishes and heavy-hand of one city. The issue is a humanitarian and infrastructure challenge. Granted, finding a way for everyone to live in harmony isn’t easy. But, one thing is clear: RV dwellers are NOT going away.

Perhaps big box stores and churches in the area could permit RVs to park during (and only during) the evening. This could provide safe, central areas for RV residents. The city could provide dumpsters and clean the parking lots early in the morning. In turn, the city could give the stores and churches a tax incentive for their willingness to accommodate the RVs.

Don’t think that will work? Well…

Since many Mountain View residents make huge salaries, perhaps the city should levy a local tax earmarked specifically to monetarily assist our RV neighbors in finding affordable apartments. It could be coordinated via Mountain View’s community services organization. This approach would get RVs off the streets. And frankly, you and I know that many RV dwellers would prefer to live in an apartment rather than parked on the street.


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2021 at 1:04 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2021 at 1:04 pm

Tim, everyone wishes there were simple solutions, but it is a very complicated problem. The prior city council did try an experiment called “Lots of Love” that recruited local churches to allow overnight vehicle parking on their lots. A handful of people were helped but they had to agree to have social services and some RV dwellers don’t want those services. Many also need to have 24 hour parking..they don’t have places to store their vehicles during the day if only offered overnight parking. The current city council did open 3 24 hour safe parking lots in partnership with county that seem to be heavily used and there are certainly good arguments for adding more, but even these lots have rules like proof of insurance etc and many RVs are rented, not owned by the residents. The city also just opened a new big prefab housing complex with 100 units for homeless...up and running in six months.


afp
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Jul 13, 2021 at 1:17 pm
afp, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Jul 13, 2021 at 1:17 pm

You should see the mess that these RV dwellers leave. They use the streets as their dumping ground. They use the sidewalk and the streets as well, as their living room. they have their folding chairs, sitting talking loudly. I do not have much empathy for them because they act as if it is their right to park there and create all the mess. To the people who support them, please open up your driveway and let them stay with you.


Stiv O
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2021 at 8:31 pm
Stiv O, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 18, 2021 at 8:31 pm

I understand this is a complex issue. Sadly, I drive a van that I park on the street, and now I will have to park a long walk from my home and in an area that my van is probably going to get broken into. I also suspect that THAT parking space is going to sprout a "No parking 2am-6am" sign which is another way they can close down parking.
I do not live in my van, but I plan to travel. I use it to support the city as a Ham Radio Operator. This ordinance is going to really screw up my life, as having to park a 1/2 mile from your home kinda makes you stay at home a lot more, and then the van is subject to sitting longer than I like and might get towed anyway. Argh!


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