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With Mountain View's parking ban tied up in court, a construction project is pushing inhabited RVs off of Crisanto Avenue

City Council set to consider expanding the number of streets where large vehicles are banned from parking

Construction at Rengstorff Park has displaced close to 20 vehicles previously parked on Crisanto Avenue. Photo by Kevin Forestieri.

A portion of Crisanto Avenue has been cleared of parked vehicles to make way for construction at Rengstorff Park, forcing inhabited RVs -- some of which have been there for years -- to relocate.

Mountain View has started work on replacing the pool at Rengstorff Park, which requires construction vehicle access along Crisanto Avenue. City officials say a portion of Crisanto approaching Rengstorff Avenue must be clear of vehicles through Sept. 30 in order to carry out the work.

Crisanto Avenue for years been lined with unhoused residents living in a mix of cars, vans and RVs parked along the full length of the roadway, and emblematic of the region's growing homelessness problem. Data from 2019 shows the number of unhoused residents living in vehicles more than doubled in Santa Clara County in just two years.

RVs are parked next to a sign banning vehicles larger than 7 feet wide, 7 feet high or 22 feet long from parking, on Crisanto Avenue in Mountain View on Feb. 7, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

In direct response to the spike in inhabited vehicles, the City Council voted in 2019 to prohibit oversized vehicle parking on streets that are 40 feet wide or narrower. The ordinance is the subject of a legal battle and has yet to be enforced, which is why many vehicles have yet to vacate Crisanto Avenue.

Though the street has turned into a de facto neighborhood on wheels, the city must clear out a portion of the roadway for reasons unrelated to the narrow streets ordinance, according to Lenka Wright, Mountain View's public information officer. Trucks are going to be hauling debris and construction materials along Crisanto over the next several months, and there needs to be adequate room to handle truck traffic. At the same time, PG&E is working to cap off natural gas lines to the existing pool building before demolition can begin.

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The city left notices on vehicles on April 29 and again on May 13, making clear that they had to relocate by May 15. Though they were given more than two weeks to move, it still felt like a short turnaround for those who had lived there for as long as six years, said resident Janet Werkman.

"It was very disruptive (for them) to have to move so suddenly," Werkman said in an email. "We tried to direct them to other streets wider than 40 feet without parking restrictions, but some of them met with hostility from neighbors."

In interviews with Telemundo aired earlier this month, vehicle residents said they didn't know where to relocate during construction, while others said they couldn't move their RVs. In some cases, vehicles used for habitation are in disrepair and inoperable, or are rented out and cannot be moved by the tenants.

As of the May 15 deadline, most were able to get out of the way. Of the roughly 20 vehicles parked in the area, all but one had moved as of May 18, Wright said.

A map of Mountain View's parking restrictions through Sept. 30. Courtesy city of Mountain View.

Last year, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley filed a lawsuit against Mountain View claiming that the city's far-reaching oversized vehicle parking ban was illegal, violating the rights of the unhoused who had taken refuge in RVs parked on public roadways. Both parties agreed on a stay of litigation until July 4, which, under court order, requires that the city will not enforce the parking restrictions until then.

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What took place on Crisanto this month, however, is enforcement of an entirely different section of the municipal code related to emergency parking restrictions due to construction. And while outside groups informed vehicle residents they didn't have to move until July 5, the city made no assurances to those on Crisanto Avenue or elsewhere.

The Law Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

Expansion of RV parking ban

On Tuesday, May 24, the Mountain View City Council will consider voting to expand the scope of the oversized vehicle parking ban to include more streets, after city staff discovered that the original ordinance failed to account for all narrow streets across Mountain View.

If approved, 37 additional street segments would be added to the vast network of roadways on which RVs and other large vehicles can not be parked during any hours of the day. The most notable addition is Continental Circle, which has long been a hub for RV inhabitants to park alongside State Route 85.

City officials say the contractor hired to measure the roads used a mobile laser scanner to report street widths accurately – down to 5 millimeters – to collect data on each of the streets, but that the process wasn't flawless. The survey was conducted in a short amount of time, streets change widths and, in the specific case of Continental, the contractor erred in measuring the distance from one curb to the other.

Walker Drive off of North Whisman Road was also previously measured within one inch of qualifying for the parking prohibitions, but is now believed to be included.

Though less extensive and less controversial, the ordinance prohibiting oversized vehicle parking on streets with bike lanes is also up for revision, with additional street segments adjacent to Class II bike lanes getting added to the list. That includes Montecito Avenue as it approaches Shoreline Boulevard, parts of Calderon Avenue and the short dead-end Macon Avenue off of La Avenida Street.

The package of changes to Mountain View's parking rules is a mixed bag, however, with a fresh new proposal to remove overnight vehicle restrictions on numerous streets – mostly in industrial areas – that could end up accommodating RV residents.

City officials say that restrictions banning parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. are, for the most part, no longer serving a purpose in addressing traffic safety. In cases where streets are narrow, the new oversized vehicle parking bans are doing a better job at keeping roadway users safe. For streets wider than 40 feet, other mitigations can be put in place to maintain sight-line visibility.

The idea didn't go over well for property owners on the streets with overnight vehicle restrictions. Of the 57 people asked for feedback, 48 were opposed or raised serious concerns about the proposal. Many worried about long-term inhabited vehicles and all the problems they could potentially bring, including garbage, sewage, property damage, criminal activity and the potential to scare off future tenants. Despite the icy reception, the city is still recommending removal of the signs.

"While staff is cognizant that overnight parking on city streets can present challenges and concerns for some property owners fronting these streets, none of the concerns raised in the outreach differentiated those streets from other streets in the city wider than 40 feet where overnight parking is allowed," according to the staff report.

The city's suggested approach, which the council will consider, involves lifting the overnight parking ban in mostly industrial areas of the city, and that the restrictions will remain in place in residential areas and locations that are considered sensitive ecological or habitat areas. That means residential parts of Cuesta Drive, Pamela Drive, View Street, Wyandotte Street and San Antonio Circle will keep their overnight restrictions, as well as the habitat-facing Terminal Boulevard near the San Francisco Bay.

It's unclear how the proposed changes would affect the ongoing lawsuit between the Law Foundation and the city. In the past, the city's legal defense has argued those living in vehicles still have plenty of places to park in the city even with the full rollout of the narrow streets and bike lane ordinances, and that the only risk they face is losing a preferred parking spot.

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Kevin Forestieri is an assistant editor with the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac. He joined the Voice in 2014 and has reported on schools, housing, crime and health. Read more >>

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With Mountain View's parking ban tied up in court, a construction project is pushing inhabited RVs off of Crisanto Avenue

City Council set to consider expanding the number of streets where large vehicles are banned from parking

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, May 23, 2022, 1:49 pm

A portion of Crisanto Avenue has been cleared of parked vehicles to make way for construction at Rengstorff Park, forcing inhabited RVs -- some of which have been there for years -- to relocate.

Mountain View has started work on replacing the pool at Rengstorff Park, which requires construction vehicle access along Crisanto Avenue. City officials say a portion of Crisanto approaching Rengstorff Avenue must be clear of vehicles through Sept. 30 in order to carry out the work.

Crisanto Avenue for years been lined with unhoused residents living in a mix of cars, vans and RVs parked along the full length of the roadway, and emblematic of the region's growing homelessness problem. Data from 2019 shows the number of unhoused residents living in vehicles more than doubled in Santa Clara County in just two years.

In direct response to the spike in inhabited vehicles, the City Council voted in 2019 to prohibit oversized vehicle parking on streets that are 40 feet wide or narrower. The ordinance is the subject of a legal battle and has yet to be enforced, which is why many vehicles have yet to vacate Crisanto Avenue.

Though the street has turned into a de facto neighborhood on wheels, the city must clear out a portion of the roadway for reasons unrelated to the narrow streets ordinance, according to Lenka Wright, Mountain View's public information officer. Trucks are going to be hauling debris and construction materials along Crisanto over the next several months, and there needs to be adequate room to handle truck traffic. At the same time, PG&E is working to cap off natural gas lines to the existing pool building before demolition can begin.

The city left notices on vehicles on April 29 and again on May 13, making clear that they had to relocate by May 15. Though they were given more than two weeks to move, it still felt like a short turnaround for those who had lived there for as long as six years, said resident Janet Werkman.

"It was very disruptive (for them) to have to move so suddenly," Werkman said in an email. "We tried to direct them to other streets wider than 40 feet without parking restrictions, but some of them met with hostility from neighbors."

In interviews with Telemundo aired earlier this month, vehicle residents said they didn't know where to relocate during construction, while others said they couldn't move their RVs. In some cases, vehicles used for habitation are in disrepair and inoperable, or are rented out and cannot be moved by the tenants.

As of the May 15 deadline, most were able to get out of the way. Of the roughly 20 vehicles parked in the area, all but one had moved as of May 18, Wright said.

Last year, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley filed a lawsuit against Mountain View claiming that the city's far-reaching oversized vehicle parking ban was illegal, violating the rights of the unhoused who had taken refuge in RVs parked on public roadways. Both parties agreed on a stay of litigation until July 4, which, under court order, requires that the city will not enforce the parking restrictions until then.

What took place on Crisanto this month, however, is enforcement of an entirely different section of the municipal code related to emergency parking restrictions due to construction. And while outside groups informed vehicle residents they didn't have to move until July 5, the city made no assurances to those on Crisanto Avenue or elsewhere.

The Law Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

Expansion of RV parking ban

On Tuesday, May 24, the Mountain View City Council will consider voting to expand the scope of the oversized vehicle parking ban to include more streets, after city staff discovered that the original ordinance failed to account for all narrow streets across Mountain View.

If approved, 37 additional street segments would be added to the vast network of roadways on which RVs and other large vehicles can not be parked during any hours of the day. The most notable addition is Continental Circle, which has long been a hub for RV inhabitants to park alongside State Route 85.

City officials say the contractor hired to measure the roads used a mobile laser scanner to report street widths accurately – down to 5 millimeters – to collect data on each of the streets, but that the process wasn't flawless. The survey was conducted in a short amount of time, streets change widths and, in the specific case of Continental, the contractor erred in measuring the distance from one curb to the other.

Walker Drive off of North Whisman Road was also previously measured within one inch of qualifying for the parking prohibitions, but is now believed to be included.

Though less extensive and less controversial, the ordinance prohibiting oversized vehicle parking on streets with bike lanes is also up for revision, with additional street segments adjacent to Class II bike lanes getting added to the list. That includes Montecito Avenue as it approaches Shoreline Boulevard, parts of Calderon Avenue and the short dead-end Macon Avenue off of La Avenida Street.

The package of changes to Mountain View's parking rules is a mixed bag, however, with a fresh new proposal to remove overnight vehicle restrictions on numerous streets – mostly in industrial areas – that could end up accommodating RV residents.

City officials say that restrictions banning parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. are, for the most part, no longer serving a purpose in addressing traffic safety. In cases where streets are narrow, the new oversized vehicle parking bans are doing a better job at keeping roadway users safe. For streets wider than 40 feet, other mitigations can be put in place to maintain sight-line visibility.

The idea didn't go over well for property owners on the streets with overnight vehicle restrictions. Of the 57 people asked for feedback, 48 were opposed or raised serious concerns about the proposal. Many worried about long-term inhabited vehicles and all the problems they could potentially bring, including garbage, sewage, property damage, criminal activity and the potential to scare off future tenants. Despite the icy reception, the city is still recommending removal of the signs.

"While staff is cognizant that overnight parking on city streets can present challenges and concerns for some property owners fronting these streets, none of the concerns raised in the outreach differentiated those streets from other streets in the city wider than 40 feet where overnight parking is allowed," according to the staff report.

The city's suggested approach, which the council will consider, involves lifting the overnight parking ban in mostly industrial areas of the city, and that the restrictions will remain in place in residential areas and locations that are considered sensitive ecological or habitat areas. That means residential parts of Cuesta Drive, Pamela Drive, View Street, Wyandotte Street and San Antonio Circle will keep their overnight restrictions, as well as the habitat-facing Terminal Boulevard near the San Francisco Bay.

It's unclear how the proposed changes would affect the ongoing lawsuit between the Law Foundation and the city. In the past, the city's legal defense has argued those living in vehicles still have plenty of places to park in the city even with the full rollout of the narrow streets and bike lane ordinances, and that the only risk they face is losing a preferred parking spot.

Comments

Local
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on May 23, 2022 at 4:44 pm
Local, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on May 23, 2022 at 4:44 pm

A recent article concerning Apple Corporation moving street dwellers off their property, pointed out some quite obvious (but rarely exposed) problems with rehousing many people in this situation. Several refuse the restrictions of regular housing, some have mental, physical or criminal issues that make it difficult to find housing, and many merely moved here from out of town (and some from out of state) for the free services. A large percentage of the RVs are owned by out of town landlords, who rent them out at a profit - and pay no taxes for our schools, police, library, etc. Many RVs are so junked that they are not drivable.
Mountain View deserves thanks for all our Council has done: safe lots, sewage and trash removal, partnership with CSA to help with employment and housing - among the many other attempts to aid the street dwellers. I am astounded that the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley is suing Mountain View - the one city in the area that has done MORE than any other to help the street dwellers. Do they not see the blazing inconsistency in this lawsuit, when Los Altos, Sunnyvale, LAH, Menlo Park, etc. outright PROHIBIT RVs on their streets and offer NO aid of any kind? I hope a judge would be aware of this inconsistency, and treat it as the baseless harassment to MV, by this law firm, that it is.
The voters of Mountain View have spoken, yet our Council is too cowardly to institute the law that passed - with this delay bringing in more onto our streets. We can only (as we have) help those who want to be helped - but we cannot pander to a criminal element, out of town landlords nor those who refuse to be helped. It's past time to enforce the law.


Lenny Siegel2
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on May 23, 2022 at 4:55 pm
Lenny Siegel2, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on May 23, 2022 at 4:55 pm

[Portion removed] Haven't you seen the RV's on the streets of Sunnyvale and Palo Alto?


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 23, 2022 at 5:10 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 23, 2022 at 5:10 pm

People living in RVs is a predictable result of having too much parking and not enough homes.


Salim
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on May 23, 2022 at 6:16 pm
Salim, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on May 23, 2022 at 6:16 pm

My neighbors on Crisanto don't deserve to get harassed by the city.


Local
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on May 23, 2022 at 7:17 pm
Local, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on May 23, 2022 at 7:17 pm

Mountain View has been not only extremely tolerant, they have been very progressive! A LOT has been done for our RV dwellers - and many have been helped to move into housing and off the streets. The problem is that we are the only city providing services, so we get quite an influx from out of town (as well as the out of town landlords who park junk RVs and rent them out here) and there will never be enough City funds to house everyone who wants to live here. This is where other cities must step up. Palo Alto and Sunnyvale cannot do anything about people parked on El Camino, as it's a state highway (#82) and the state has governance - but they block their residential streets. It cannot be only MV working for others this way. We cannot be all things to all people (those who refuse assistance have the right to do so) and there is no perfect solution. This has to be a cooperative deal, and if the RV owner will not cooperate, that is unfortunate, but the decision is theirs and they live with the consequences like we all do in life. This isn't heartless, it is reality. If you are hard and fast that MV OWES everyone a place to live no matter the circumstances, then please open your home or driveway and show you mean it!


Lenny Siegel2
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on May 24, 2022 at 11:40 am
Lenny Siegel2, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on May 24, 2022 at 11:40 am

[Portion removed] A lot of people respect and trust you, so it's particularly important that you not repeat misleading information. Palo Alto does NOT prevent oversized vehicle residences from parking on city street. On my bike ride this morning, I counted 13 such vehicles in one section of Palo Alto, far from El Camino Real.
You're entitled to your opinions, but not your own "facts."


Peter
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on May 24, 2022 at 11:41 am
Peter, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on May 24, 2022 at 11:41 am

Re: Local
Very well said and I couldn't agree more and I don't need to add anything. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on May 24, 2022 at 11:55 am
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on May 24, 2022 at 11:55 am

[Post removed due to poster's repeated violations of TOS -- personal attacks and disrespectful comments]


Proud Taxpayer
Registered user
Willowgate
on May 24, 2022 at 1:13 pm
Proud Taxpayer , Willowgate
Registered user
on May 24, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Crisanto has been cleared of street campers, forcing them to take their RVs and relocate. This is good news. This should not have been a surprise to anyone, nor should it have been any kind of inconvenience to those who choose to park there. Our city street were not designed as camping sites.


Lenny Siegel
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2022 at 10:12 am
Lenny Siegel, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on May 25, 2022 at 10:12 am

@ Local (the Voice keeps deleting your name) I just confirmed that there are oversized vehicles residences on Sunnyvale city streets (that is, not El Camino Real), some in highly visible locations. Please acknowledge the truth. Then we can debate policy.


LongResident
Registered user
another community
on May 25, 2022 at 1:46 pm
LongResident, another community
Registered user
on May 25, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Local makes errors of perspective that can be argued about.

But one thing that Local says is that CSA provides social services on behalf of just the city of Mountain View. It's the CSA of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills and it raises a lot of support from the 2 areas outside of Mountain View.

Furthermore, rightfully, the County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency has a housing assistance program and other services located in Mountain View. This provides more assistance than does CSA, and it is funded by the county as a whole plus the state. So at least some of the incentive to potentially seek out Mountain View for services is different than Local says. MOST of the county social services efforts are provided from offices in San Jose, but we all pay for those services too, not just Mountain View residents.

Finally, in the North county of Santa Clara there is a lot of private social services assistance that are provided out of Palo Alto. Palo Alto has had an Opportunity Center for homeless located just off El Camino Real on Encina Avenue FOR DECADES now.


Local
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on May 25, 2022 at 4:56 pm
Local, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on May 25, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Yes... there are RVs on some streets in cities, even though those cities prohibit them. Lenny2, that doesn't mean that these cities openly allow this - they do move some, but then they come back after 72 hours, and some just refuse to move until towed. However, none of these cities (even though they have people flaunting their regulations of no street dwelling) are able to keep their streets completely free. The fact is that some still persist on the streets of cities that prohibit them. That doesn't change my argument.
You appear to be a big advocate for RVs on city streets in Mountain View. Then, why did you have signs installed at both ends of your street prohibiting RV parking? However, since you are so ardent....I suppose you could offer your driveway to a few? When do you anticipate doing that?
I would rather not write directly to you - and I wouldn't be so disrespectful to use your name, unless you list it here - but you do so. Please continue with your own comments - and l will have mine.


Seth Neumann
Registered user
Waverly Park
on May 26, 2022 at 2:56 pm
Seth Neumann, Waverly Park
Registered user
on May 26, 2022 at 2:56 pm

I have to agree with "local": Mountain View has done at least as much as any other city around to find a humane solution. I don't have any data on who is moving to Mtn View because it's the only place they can park, so I can't comment on that. Low income housing is a regional, if not statewide, problem and it seems like we're shouldering more than our fair share. What can we do to help the people who need to live in vehicles that doesn't involve unsafe, unsanitary and unsighly junkers parked on the streets and blocking sight lines? How can we tax the absentee owners of the RVs to get them to contribute their fair share? (We'd certainly tax slum lords offering low end housing).


LongResident
Registered user
another community
on May 26, 2022 at 5:11 pm
LongResident, another community
Registered user
on May 26, 2022 at 5:11 pm

In the north county only Sunnyvale and Mountain View are significantly adding to gentrification by adding such high wage jobs, and a lot of them. They get the property tax revenue from the added valuation built into the Tech campuses. Other cities have much less revenue growth, if any, that can be attributed to commercial real estate development. They both did way more than their share of shouldering the difficult job of spending all the revenue that comes from this "run away" commercial growth.

It's interesting, that RV parking outside these Tech campuses has been illegal and enforced dating back 10 years..... don't want to upset the goose that lays the golden property tax eggs. The lawsuit didn't block enforcing RV's not being allowed to park outside Google buildings.


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