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Mountain View begins installing signs banning RV parking despite legal challenge

A car drives by a sign banning parking of oversized vehicles along Alvin Street in Mountain View on Aug. 31, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

This month, Mountain View began installing the first of what will soon be a common sight throughout the city: large red-and-white signs banning oversized vehicles from parking on public streets.

Signs started going up all over the Monta Loma and Rex Manor neighborhoods on Aug. 16, from larger thoroughfares like Montecito Avenue to quiet residential streets like Vaquero Drive and Ormonde Way. The city expects to install about 2,600 of these signs covering the vast majority of streets across Mountain View, a lengthy process that will take months.

The signs mark the city's first opportunity to enforce what it's calling the "Narrow Streets" ordinance, which prohibits RVs and other large vehicles from parking on city streets that are 40 feet wide or less. Though ostensibly a traffic safety measure, the ordinance was widely considered a means to prevent hundreds of homeless people from inhabiting vehicles on public roadways.

Two workers ensure a pole is secured to its anchor during the process of installing signs banning parking for oversized vehicles on Doane Avenue in Mountain View on Aug. 31, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Implementing the measure is going to cost an estimated $1 million and requires that signs be posted on 1,035 city blocks, which are being installed by a contractor. The city is forging ahead with the sign installation despite facing a lawsuit that could potentially force the city to reverse course. The city's hired contractor started putting up signs on the same day the city filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Since tracking began in 2017, the city has counted anywhere from 208 to 299 inhabited vehicles parked along public roadways, the bulk of them RVs. Residents filed complaints with the city against what amounted to ad hoc trailer parks developing on roads like Crisanto Avenue and Continental Circle. Spurred to act on those complaints, the City Council in 2019 approved the narrow streets ordinance without knowing precisely which streets would be included in the RV parking ban. A full list was released more than a full year after the vote.

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As part of the initial rollout this month, contractors are installing signs in the Monta Loma and Rex Manor area, located north of Central Expressway and west of Shoreline Boulevard. Previous surveys have found inhabited RVs clustered along San Ramon Avenue, Wentworth Street and Gemini Avenue. As of Thursday, only one RV was parked on San Ramon Avenue just feet away from the closest sign warning that oversized vehicles will be towed.

No signs have been posted on Wentworth, while Gemini was not included in the list of narrow streets.

City spokeswoman Lenka Wright said the installation process has gone "smoothly" so far, and that both property owners and vehicle dwellers alike were both notified ahead of time. She said the city expects to move east and install signs in the Moffett and Whisman areas next, likely in early or mid-September, and that there's an effort to avoid heavy-handed enforcement right away.

A worker secures a pole to its anchor with cement during the process of installing signs banning parking for oversized vehicles on Doane Avenue in Mountain View on Aug. 31, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"The city will continue its approach of conducting individualized notice and providing informational resources before additional enforcement efforts are undertaken," Wright said.

Among those resources are the city's three safe parking sites, which offer vehicle dwellers a sanctioned place to live in parked cars and RVs, as well as LifeMoves Mountain View, which provides interim housing to homeless people. Many of those living at LifeMoves had previously lived in vehicles in Mountain View.

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Though the city has repeatedly claimed that it's easy to determine where oversized vehicles can still legally park, some remain skeptical that the published map truly represent the scope of the measure. Lenny Siegel, a member of the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition, said the map fails to highlight streets that have other parking restrictions, and that some streets under 40 feet wide are not even listed under the city's ordinance.

If the legal challenge is unsuccessful, Siegel said he worries inhabited RVs will be forced to migrate to streets that could pose more serious traffic safety problems, including El Camino Real, Moffett Boulevard and Old Middlefield Way, or onto one of numerous residential streets wider than 40 feet. He said he does not believe voters knew what they were approving when they passed the ordinance in November with nearly 57% of the vote, and that it's a flawed solution to the problem of homelessness.

"All over the Bay Area, perhaps all over the country, people who can't afford the rent are moving into RVs. More will do so when the eviction moratoriums expire," Siegel said. "Mountain View's ordinance will not keep motorhomes off the streets, but it will force people into less suitable locations. It's like placing your finger in a hole in the dike when the storm surge is pouring over the top."

With more signs going up on Aug. 31, one local resident created a map showing where vehicle dwellers can relocate under the ordinance and avoid getting towed. Described as "positive parking information," the map depicts close to three dozen street segments not affected by the city's parking prohibitions.

A sign banning parking of oversized vehicles at the intersection of Alvin Street and Quincy Drive in Mountain View on Aug. 31, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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Mountain View begins installing signs banning RV parking despite legal challenge

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 1:51 pm

This month, Mountain View began installing the first of what will soon be a common sight throughout the city: large red-and-white signs banning oversized vehicles from parking on public streets.

Signs started going up all over the Monta Loma and Rex Manor neighborhoods on Aug. 16, from larger thoroughfares like Montecito Avenue to quiet residential streets like Vaquero Drive and Ormonde Way. The city expects to install about 2,600 of these signs covering the vast majority of streets across Mountain View, a lengthy process that will take months.

The signs mark the city's first opportunity to enforce what it's calling the "Narrow Streets" ordinance, which prohibits RVs and other large vehicles from parking on city streets that are 40 feet wide or less. Though ostensibly a traffic safety measure, the ordinance was widely considered a means to prevent hundreds of homeless people from inhabiting vehicles on public roadways.

Implementing the measure is going to cost an estimated $1 million and requires that signs be posted on 1,035 city blocks, which are being installed by a contractor. The city is forging ahead with the sign installation despite facing a lawsuit that could potentially force the city to reverse course. The city's hired contractor started putting up signs on the same day the city filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Since tracking began in 2017, the city has counted anywhere from 208 to 299 inhabited vehicles parked along public roadways, the bulk of them RVs. Residents filed complaints with the city against what amounted to ad hoc trailer parks developing on roads like Crisanto Avenue and Continental Circle. Spurred to act on those complaints, the City Council in 2019 approved the narrow streets ordinance without knowing precisely which streets would be included in the RV parking ban. A full list was released more than a full year after the vote.

As part of the initial rollout this month, contractors are installing signs in the Monta Loma and Rex Manor area, located north of Central Expressway and west of Shoreline Boulevard. Previous surveys have found inhabited RVs clustered along San Ramon Avenue, Wentworth Street and Gemini Avenue. As of Thursday, only one RV was parked on San Ramon Avenue just feet away from the closest sign warning that oversized vehicles will be towed.

No signs have been posted on Wentworth, while Gemini was not included in the list of narrow streets.

City spokeswoman Lenka Wright said the installation process has gone "smoothly" so far, and that both property owners and vehicle dwellers alike were both notified ahead of time. She said the city expects to move east and install signs in the Moffett and Whisman areas next, likely in early or mid-September, and that there's an effort to avoid heavy-handed enforcement right away.

"The city will continue its approach of conducting individualized notice and providing informational resources before additional enforcement efforts are undertaken," Wright said.

Among those resources are the city's three safe parking sites, which offer vehicle dwellers a sanctioned place to live in parked cars and RVs, as well as LifeMoves Mountain View, which provides interim housing to homeless people. Many of those living at LifeMoves had previously lived in vehicles in Mountain View.

Though the city has repeatedly claimed that it's easy to determine where oversized vehicles can still legally park, some remain skeptical that the published map truly represent the scope of the measure. Lenny Siegel, a member of the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition, said the map fails to highlight streets that have other parking restrictions, and that some streets under 40 feet wide are not even listed under the city's ordinance.

If the legal challenge is unsuccessful, Siegel said he worries inhabited RVs will be forced to migrate to streets that could pose more serious traffic safety problems, including El Camino Real, Moffett Boulevard and Old Middlefield Way, or onto one of numerous residential streets wider than 40 feet. He said he does not believe voters knew what they were approving when they passed the ordinance in November with nearly 57% of the vote, and that it's a flawed solution to the problem of homelessness.

"All over the Bay Area, perhaps all over the country, people who can't afford the rent are moving into RVs. More will do so when the eviction moratoriums expire," Siegel said. "Mountain View's ordinance will not keep motorhomes off the streets, but it will force people into less suitable locations. It's like placing your finger in a hole in the dike when the storm surge is pouring over the top."

With more signs going up on Aug. 31, one local resident created a map showing where vehicle dwellers can relocate under the ordinance and avoid getting towed. Described as "positive parking information," the map depicts close to three dozen street segments not affected by the city's parking prohibitions.

Comments

LauraR
Registered user
another community
on Aug 31, 2021 at 2:23 pm
LauraR, another community
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2021 at 2:23 pm

Thank you to the City of Mountain View for the way you are dealing with all the RVs on our streets. It is fair to all involved.


Seth Neumann
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Aug 31, 2021 at 4:31 pm
Seth Neumann, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2021 at 4:31 pm

this combination of broad notice and enforcement combined with safe parking and other services is fair and humane. It's time for our neighboring cities to step up and offer similar spaces and services!


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Aug 31, 2021 at 5:14 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Seth, Laura, how many of your neighbors living in vehicles have you talked to about this? What is their opinion on how the city is handling this? Presumably, their perspective on whether this is "fair" or "humane" is important.

With far fewer safe parking spots than vehicles, how can anyone claim this is "humane" or "fair"?


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Sep 1, 2021 at 10:44 am
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 10:44 am

@Randy. We will never have enough spots since RVs move into MV from other communities. The only way we can help is getting these folks out of the vehicles into social services and hopefully into permanent jobs/housing. We have had status quo for too long. RVs are not meant for street living, they need hook ups. And by the way the Aloha RV park in Sunnyvale has openings….


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Polomom, were your claim that "we will never have enough spots" true, we wouldn't see the fact that the majority of vehicle dwellers are former Mountain View residents. That fact comes from the City itself.

I'll cheekily remind you, though, that the City claims none of this is about the quality of vehicles as housing, it's only about traffic safety. Weird how the proponents keep forgetting that...


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Sep 1, 2021 at 12:11 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 12:11 pm

@Randy, I want to see the numbers. I believe the numbers admitted into our little village on Leghorn and into the Safe Parking lots. But the numbers of RV's still on Continental and Crissanto and all over other streets point to out of towners. There were no openings created on those streets after the eligible ones went to city lots! We shouldn't subsidize the RV landlord source of income!


Concerned long time MVer
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2021 at 2:35 pm
Concerned long time MVer, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 2:35 pm

Thank you MV for doing the right thing. Siegal opened the door to the vehicles dwellers, and invited many more RVs into MV - MOST OF WHICH are NOT displaced MVers, but from other parts of CA. Why do our streets need to be filled with RVs?
Siegel you were voted out for a reason - we don't want your damaging politics in MV - get it?!



Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2021 at 2:38 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Concerned, that's simply false. I must report your comment to the moderators for spreading misinformation. The city has stated repeatedly that the majority of vehicle dwellers lived or worked in Mountain View.


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2021 at 2:59 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Randy, would you provide a cite to the statement that you made re whether majority of RV dwellers were MV residents. The last survey I saw, which was several years back, was that a majority had not previously lived in MV and were single males. The population may well have changed over the years because this was done perhaps five years ago, around the time a lot of construction workers were living in RVs on weekdays and generally gone from places like Shoreline on weekends.

Please, I am not trying to pick a fight with you, would just like to know if there is a more recent survey you are referring to...


Peter
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:27 pm
Peter, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Kudos to Randy Guelph for offering to house an RV in his driveway. I must say, I have much more respect for his comments. I also think that those others who feel that the City is not doing enough should also offer up their driveway. Much Respect!


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:28 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:28 pm

Randy, per my question above, I did find the 2016 survey of RV dwellers in MV. It does show that 59% said they were from MV and 41% were not. 72% were male (that was a fact that stuck out in my mind at the time because it seemed unusually high). Not sure whether a more recent survey exists.


JustAWorkingStiff
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:30 pm
JustAWorkingStiff, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:30 pm

City of Mountain View is doing a good job here.
Safe Parking provides:
Sewage/Garbage/Water Services and a safe area to park
Social Services too; to get them the help they need
MV is offering more services and help then other cities around here

In contrast, Lenny Siegel and his team are suing City of MV despite the resources
MV is devoting to RVs. This story doesn't make a lot of sense.
* Not suing cities around here which don't allow RVs
* MV voted for the ordinance fair and square, yet Lenny and his team is suing
* Lenny opposed putting this to a city-wide vote. I wonder why? Because if there
is a disagreement between various groups in the city, why is it so bad to
let everybody vote and resolve it? The vote occurred, and now Lenny and his team
are suing because he/they didn't like the outcome.
* How does it make sense to let an unlimited number of RVs from anywhere set up
living quarters anywhere in the city without sewage/garbage/water support?
* How does it make sense that a small group of Activists demand that RVs impact
a specific group of MV residents without their input? It does not make sense.
Nor is it fair.

I hope in the future that nobody votes for Lenny Siegel or any of his supporting team. Thank you




MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:37 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:37 pm

I meant to add that the 2016 survey also said that only 43% responded that their last permanent housing was in Mountain View. Not sure any of this is directly applicable to the underlying debate, but when someone says a majority of rv residents are either from MV or not from MV, it seems like the data is mixed. However, RV dwellers with ties, former residents or work, do get priority for spaces in safe parking lots..


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:51 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 3:51 pm

MV Neighbor, I believe we're considering the same survey. I'm not sure what's mixed about a majority being from Mountain View (59%). Housing instability often happens in waves, so "last permanent" is usually a cascade of moves that leads to them in a vehicle in their hometown.

As I pointed out above, the number of vehicles is much higher than the number of total safe parking spots, so priority doesn't really matter.


Tim
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Sep 1, 2021 at 4:14 pm
Tim, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 4:14 pm

Like many residents, I’ve voiced my opinion on the RV ban. If you’re unhappy with the RV ban (as I am), take it to the polls. There are council representatives in Mountain View who should move on — that is, find another way to serve the community. Frankly, I’m tired of same folks running for office. Perhaps Mountain View would benefit from some fresh faces. Food for thought…


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2021 at 4:23 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 4:23 pm

Tim, I don't think it's acceptable for us as a society to target people based solely on misstated claims about some shared characteristic they have with others, even if a majority voted for it to happen. Do you? There are some dangerous historic precedents down that path.


Concerned long time MVer
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2021 at 6:23 pm
Concerned long time MVer, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 6:23 pm

[Post removed due to personal attack]


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2021 at 6:43 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2021 at 6:43 pm

Concerned, I think most would agree that it's unreasonable to require that someone post their home address on a public website in order to participate in a discussion. Not that I think it is required to participate, but I do give the vehicle dwellers my personal help, almost daily.

As adults, we can discuss issues on the merits, but I view people living in their vehicles as a symptom of the underlying issue, not the problem itself that needs to be treated. Focusing on rousting these people from their homes (sorry, for traffic safety purposes), makes the lives of the less fortunate worse for the pleasure of those better off. That's not a trade I can morally defend.

Do you feel at all bad for posting misinformation about the people living in vehicles? Who gave you that bad information, and what else did they lie to you about?


Old Steve
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Sep 2, 2021 at 8:53 am
Old Steve, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2021 at 8:53 am

I am with Randy. I tried to get my street taken out of the signing program. We already have a 72 hr street parking ordinance. We could have spent the $1 million the signs are costing on more rigorous (not necessarily better) enforcement of 72 hrs if this was really about traffic safety. Many people who keep our community running have lost the ability to afford nearby housing. When the earthquake comes (and it will), we'll see how we do with many of our Police, Fire, and Public Works off duty folks not available to report due to road closures. Affordable housing is the real issue, not what legal vehicles can be allowed to park where. Derelict vehicles can already be removed through existing enforcement opportunities. During pandemic we have all been safer for folks who have lost housing living in vehicles rather than tents on our streets. Compassion anyone??


Parks
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on Sep 2, 2021 at 4:15 pm
Parks, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2021 at 4:15 pm

I still honestly don't understand how people think that allowing people to live on the street is the compassionate choice. It lets government off the hook about providing real solutions and creates legitimate safety and sanitation issues. How is it progressive to give the OK to allowing people, including children, to live without reliable heat, running water and sanitation? RV's don't belong on the street AND government needs to do much much more to help with humane affordable housing.


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Sep 2, 2021 at 4:43 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Parks, your framing of the choice is inaccurate.

All of these enforcement actions are doing exactly what you are accusing others of doing: letting the city off the hook. Remember that the city drafted Measure C as their solution (that is, to the problem of traffic safety!), and they chose to roust these people. By endorsing that approach, the voters let the city off the hook to solve the underlying problem. Voters could have rejected it and instead demanded that the city take an affirmative responsibility to finding stable living situations for these people, but they didn't. Voters chose to make their lives worse.

It's not compassion to kick these people out of their homes, fine them, and seize their property because you think it's not good enough. It's compassion to provide them something better, and that's what the city and voters should have done.


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Sep 2, 2021 at 5:25 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2021 at 5:25 pm

Can The Voice maybe report on the success stories regarding our RVs-in MV . Our Leghorn village for houseless persons is at 95% and of those 48 came from the RV population, 38 from cars and the rest was living on the streets. This information is from MV CC. That means about 80 vehicles were removed and their occupants found dignified housing. According to the MV city website Livemoves expects to serve about 300 individuals a year. There won’t soon be any vehicle dwellers left. Unfortunately that won’t come true, not because our city is not working hard enough and spending a lot of $ on this issue, but like with any homeless encampment a small percentage will never want to integrate into our community. For those we have plenty street parking available. The current lawsuit is picking on the wrong city. Wasting $ that could be used for the Crestview housing.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2021 at 9:16 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2021 at 9:16 am

@Randy - thanks for your cheekiness! @Old Steve, thanks for trying!
The 72 hour move is a reasonable state-wide vehicle law. Since the owners - not occupants, would be responsible for tickets, it really would be useful to have this law enforced (with tickets) to start to price-out uncooperative 'RV landloards'.
For all the political backslapping on the (good) Leghorn project - it was not on-time, was it? There is public land avaliable for more of these (or tiny-house, or modular-built small stacked units) at COOPER SCHOOL (MVWSD) and CUESTA PARK ANNEX (CIty of MV). As they say in Los Altos SD politics, NEC (North of El Camino) does not have to host all the low-income housing needs {right fellow rich people in South of El Camino}. It is only political will. It is only moral character. The poor will always be with us. They needn't live in street RVs.
Peace and Love


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2021 at 9:24 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2021 at 9:24 am

I was recently talking to my wife about THOSE WONDERFUL square holely 'sign posts' that the city sometimes puts up. Great for adding new signs (just bolt on new as needed). [see the third detail picture in the article]

AND I JUST THOUGHT, probably also great for Unbolting morally questionable 'signs'. Not that I would organize an "unbolting party" myself U C. But ....


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