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With lawsuit resolved, Mountain View will start enforcing its RV parking ban next month

RVs along Terra Bella Avenue in Mountain View, which is not included in upcoming restrictions on oversized vehicle parking. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

After years of delays caused by a voter referendum, a lawsuit and a major undertaking to install thousands of signs, the city of Mountain View is finally set to enforce its RV parking restrictions starting Oct. 1.

The pair of ordinances, originally passed in 2019, prohibit oversized vehicles from parking on narrow streets and streets with bike lanes, but have yet to be enforced. Several plaintiffs, represented by the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, challenged the parking rules in a federal lawsuit last year on grounds that they were unconstitutional.

Both ordinances, particularly the narrow streets ordinance, have been highly controversial, with critics noting that hundreds of homeless residents living in RVs could be exiled from the city under the restrictive rules. The city defines narrow streets as being 40 feet wide or less, a definition broad enough to include 470 of the city's 525 public streets.

Proponents say that public roadways are inappropriate places for the homeless to reside, and have resulted in public health hazards and reduced quality of life.

This week, the city announced that it has reached a tentative settlement agreement with plaintiffs on the case, paving the way for enforcement to begin next month. Over the course of September, city staff say they will be notifying people living in oversized vehicles about the tentative settlement and the need to steer clear of narrow streets and streets with bike lanes in order to avoid getting ticketed or towed.

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Maps will also be distributed to people living in vehicles in order to help them find a lawful place to park oversized vehicles without running afoul of any of the city's parking ordinances. Maps are available on the city's website.

Along with ticketing RVs on restricted roads, the Mountain View Police Department will also be enforcing its 72-hour parking rules, which are effective citywide, according to a statement released Thursday, Sept. 1. Vehicles are considered in violation if they remain in place for three days straight without being moved. City officials say those who cannot move their vehicle will be connected with community-based organization that can assist with repairs and towing services.

Though the full details of the settlement have yet to be released, the city revealed in its statement that it is required to ensure at least 3 miles of public streets are still available for oversized vehicles to park over the next four years. These spaces will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and 72-hour rules still apply.

"We are happy with the tentative settlement and look forward to giving the community more information once we are able to," said Erin Neff of the Law Foundation in an email.

More options will be opening up for those residing in RVs. In May, the Mountain View City Council voted to ditch overnight parking restrictions on most streets where parking was prohibited between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., the majority of which are located in commercial and industrial areas.

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City staff at the time found that overnight parking restrictions did not directly address traffic safety, and that traffic issues could be better resolved through red curbs and signs at specific problematic driveways and intersections. The updated ordinance lifting overnight restrictions went into effect on Aug. 30, and city staff began removing signs late last month.

The city has posted an FAQ with information on the RV parking ordinances, including the list of vehicles exempt from the rules. Large vehicles loading or unloading for residences or businesses, for example, can park for up to one hour on narrow streets, and transit buses can be parked for up to two hours.

The path to enforcement of the RV parking restrictions has been long. After the City Council voted to approve the rules in 2019, the narrow streets ordinance was immediately subject to a voter referendum and placed on the November 2020 ballot, where it succeeded with nearly 57% of the vote. Immediately after, city staff found it would take several months and nearly $1 million to fabricate and post more than 2,000 signs across the city to roll out the new law.

One month before sign installation was set to begin in August last year, the Law Foundation and other legal advocacy groups announced the lawsuit against Mountain View contesting both the narrow streets and bike lane ordinances. As both sides worked towards an agreement, the city voluntarily agreed multiple times to postpone enforcement.

In its statement Thursday, the city made clear that it did not abandon enforcement of its other parking rules, specifically laws prohibiting illegal dumping of waste or hazardous materials. The city held 19 clean-up days on streets with inhabited vehicles since September last year, hauling trash and cleaning up areas in public roadways.

"This is a challenging matter, as city staff may clean up a street or area in the public right of way one day and the same location may have trash again shortly thereafter," city officials said.

Anyone seeking to report a health and safety violation is asked to call the police department's main number at 650-903-6344.

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Kevin Forestieri
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 lawsuit resolved, Mountain View will start enforcing its RV parking ban next month

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 1, 2022, 1:27 pm

After years of delays caused by a voter referendum, a lawsuit and a major undertaking to install thousands of signs, the city of Mountain View is finally set to enforce its RV parking restrictions starting Oct. 1.

The pair of ordinances, originally passed in 2019, prohibit oversized vehicles from parking on narrow streets and streets with bike lanes, but have yet to be enforced. Several plaintiffs, represented by the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, challenged the parking rules in a federal lawsuit last year on grounds that they were unconstitutional.

Both ordinances, particularly the narrow streets ordinance, have been highly controversial, with critics noting that hundreds of homeless residents living in RVs could be exiled from the city under the restrictive rules. The city defines narrow streets as being 40 feet wide or less, a definition broad enough to include 470 of the city's 525 public streets.

Proponents say that public roadways are inappropriate places for the homeless to reside, and have resulted in public health hazards and reduced quality of life.

This week, the city announced that it has reached a tentative settlement agreement with plaintiffs on the case, paving the way for enforcement to begin next month. Over the course of September, city staff say they will be notifying people living in oversized vehicles about the tentative settlement and the need to steer clear of narrow streets and streets with bike lanes in order to avoid getting ticketed or towed.

Maps will also be distributed to people living in vehicles in order to help them find a lawful place to park oversized vehicles without running afoul of any of the city's parking ordinances. Maps are available on the city's website.

Along with ticketing RVs on restricted roads, the Mountain View Police Department will also be enforcing its 72-hour parking rules, which are effective citywide, according to a statement released Thursday, Sept. 1. Vehicles are considered in violation if they remain in place for three days straight without being moved. City officials say those who cannot move their vehicle will be connected with community-based organization that can assist with repairs and towing services.

Though the full details of the settlement have yet to be released, the city revealed in its statement that it is required to ensure at least 3 miles of public streets are still available for oversized vehicles to park over the next four years. These spaces will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and 72-hour rules still apply.

"We are happy with the tentative settlement and look forward to giving the community more information once we are able to," said Erin Neff of the Law Foundation in an email.

More options will be opening up for those residing in RVs. In May, the Mountain View City Council voted to ditch overnight parking restrictions on most streets where parking was prohibited between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., the majority of which are located in commercial and industrial areas.

City staff at the time found that overnight parking restrictions did not directly address traffic safety, and that traffic issues could be better resolved through red curbs and signs at specific problematic driveways and intersections. The updated ordinance lifting overnight restrictions went into effect on Aug. 30, and city staff began removing signs late last month.

The city has posted an FAQ with information on the RV parking ordinances, including the list of vehicles exempt from the rules. Large vehicles loading or unloading for residences or businesses, for example, can park for up to one hour on narrow streets, and transit buses can be parked for up to two hours.

The path to enforcement of the RV parking restrictions has been long. After the City Council voted to approve the rules in 2019, the narrow streets ordinance was immediately subject to a voter referendum and placed on the November 2020 ballot, where it succeeded with nearly 57% of the vote. Immediately after, city staff found it would take several months and nearly $1 million to fabricate and post more than 2,000 signs across the city to roll out the new law.

One month before sign installation was set to begin in August last year, the Law Foundation and other legal advocacy groups announced the lawsuit against Mountain View contesting both the narrow streets and bike lane ordinances. As both sides worked towards an agreement, the city voluntarily agreed multiple times to postpone enforcement.

In its statement Thursday, the city made clear that it did not abandon enforcement of its other parking rules, specifically laws prohibiting illegal dumping of waste or hazardous materials. The city held 19 clean-up days on streets with inhabited vehicles since September last year, hauling trash and cleaning up areas in public roadways.

"This is a challenging matter, as city staff may clean up a street or area in the public right of way one day and the same location may have trash again shortly thereafter," city officials said.

Anyone seeking to report a health and safety violation is asked to call the police department's main number at 650-903-6344.

Comments

Jim J.
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2022 at 2:24 pm
Jim J., Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 2:24 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Ron
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 3:40 pm
Ron, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 3:40 pm

It’s unfortunate that MV City Council couldn’t provide a means for homeowners who have lost the right to park a vehicle in front of their homes with a means of getting a permit or exception that allows one to park an oversized vehicle at their home. In my case I’d like to be able to work on my RV at my home and would like to park it there for a week or two while I work on it. But there is no mechanism for this and I have lost a right as a property owner with no recourse.


father of 3 sons
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:10 pm
father of 3 sons, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:10 pm

The 72 hour rule and the 'leaking NOT water' California vehicle rules should have been enforced all along.

Don't trash your environment (all) people!

3 miles of RV / oversize vehicle parking is at least some compromise. Note that does not apply to sleeping in cars, and pickups with low camping shells.

peace and love


Proud Taxpayer
Registered user
Willowgate
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:27 pm
Proud Taxpayer , Willowgate
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:27 pm

That's good news. It was a long time in coming, but good news nonetheless.


Otto Maddox
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:57 pm
Otto Maddox, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:57 pm

Yet another delay.. October 1 will come and go and Crisanto Avenue will still look like a shanty town.

The 72 hour rule and leaking sewage alone should clear out Crisanto. Not to mention expired registrations.. front license plates. They could clear that street today if they really wanted to.. but they don't.


Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on Sep 1, 2022 at 7:33 pm
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 7:33 pm

I used to live in the church courtyard on Cambridge in Palo Alto with a couple other guys. They'd be out panhandling on El Camino early in the day. A bottle of cheap wine was $2. The church was very kind but eventually they couldn't stand the smell and asked us to leave. You have a street full of RVs which use the bathroom and showers at Rengsdorff Park. It's not fair to residents. Why not just build an RV park?


Greg David
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 1, 2022 at 9:17 pm
Greg David, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 9:17 pm

To expand on the point Ron made, my daily driver is a small Sprinter van that has a footprint about the size of a typical car, yet stands a few inches over seven feet tall. Although I don’t expect to be targeted, theoretically I could come out any given morning to find it gone and faced with a huge towing bill. How is this fair to homeowners and renters? The people actually paying the bills for this city.


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 10:03 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 10:03 pm

It's telling that people are lamenting their "rights" as homeowners and renters to the public streets. The council's justification for this was road safety, why would it matter if the person making the roads more dangerous owns property in the city?

At least now I know one place to start calling in oversized vehicle complaints. What's good for the goose is good for the gander...


SalsaMusic
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 11:18 pm
SalsaMusic, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 11:18 pm

Ron, you have no rights to a “public RIGHT OF WAY” to reserve space to fix your toys. I hate to say it, but the truth hurts. I as a taxpayer, I paid for that road to be built, pay to sweep it and repair it. That said, if you want to rent from your fellow taxpayers for $50 a week, it’s not a bad idea. You should write that in to the council.


SalsaMusic
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 11:24 pm
SalsaMusic, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 11:24 pm

Why not build an RV park? This is a good reminder that nothing is free, especially land, since they stopped making it.

Land is $12,000,000 an acre in Mountain View. Why should my tax money go to buy expensive land? There is plenty of cheap land in Gilroy.

And don’t give me that “oh I want my kids in this MV school nonsense”. Millions of kids move every year. (Hello Army kids!) They survive and adapt. I am not coldhearted. The logistics of getting to work for people is a legit issue. But there is cheaper land (Santa clara? Gilroy?) with moderate commutes.


Ron
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2022 at 3:17 pm
Ron, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 3:17 pm

SalsaMusic I also pay taxes and I also have a business - not toys. I’m not asking for an exclusion; I’m asking for a mechanism to allow me to continue doing what I had been allowed to do previously. I understand the council has based their decision on street safety- I’m not pushing back on that. There are ways to satisfy and even support residents who live here and take care of the RV parking issue as well. I’ll point out that it wasn’t a safety issue for decades until now.


Ron
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2022 at 3:24 pm
Ron, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 3:24 pm

Frank, you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I didn’t say I had a right to the street. I said that I have a right to perform an ACTIVITY I was able to do has been taken away. I understand the basis of the councils decision. I do not accept that it must be completely exclusive and there is no mechanism to allow temporary parking on a short term permitted basis. Obviously every case is different - that’s why I’m asking for something more nuanced.
I’m not sure what is so “telling” about this; perhaps you can help me understand better?


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2022 at 4:18 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Ron, the city determined that oversized vehicles, such as your RV, pose a threat to road safety on narrow streets and bikeways. That you were endangering the public for years doesn't change that, and I'm not sure why property owners should be allowed to endanger the public.


markliu50
Registered user
Bailey Park
on Sep 3, 2022 at 1:09 pm
markliu50, Bailey Park
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2022 at 1:09 pm

This ordinance is WAY WORSE than I realized. The article says "The city defines narrow streets as being 40 feet wide or less, a definition broad enough to include 470 of the city's 525 public streets", implying that 10% of the streets are available. But when you look at the map, parking is restricted on many other streets for other reasons. It looks like only 1-2% of the street mileage is available for RV parking, almost nothing. Huge sections of town have NO streets where an RV can park. South of El Camino, there are only a few blocks where RVs are allowed to park. Look at the map. It's terrible.


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 3, 2022 at 5:41 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2022 at 5:41 pm

A former city council member who opposed the voter approved measure relating to RV parking is quoted in the Mercury News regarding the pre-ordinance situation as a “market solution that didn’t cost the government much at all and now we’re going to be forced into a more contentious situation where the government’s only solutions might be spending more money to put up signs or do safe parking.”. Yes, after several city council members left office, Mountain View set up several safe parking lots and quickly (less than six months) a whole new housing complex for people to move out of RVs and cars. Thinking about the RV fire a few days ago in Pioneer Ave, it does seem a more compassionate approach is not a “market solution” but moving as the new city council did to expand safe parking and other measures to help people move to safer situations.


MV Resident
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2022 at 3:43 pm
MV Resident, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2022 at 3:43 pm

About time, the people voted for the removal of RVs and finally it is going to happen. A couple of homeless people have RVs used for living and storage parked on Pamela Drive behind the City Sport off Grant for months. The street is narrow and it is dangerous to maneuver between the RVs with garbage, extra tires, broken bike leaning against the RVs.
If this madness had not been stopped the misguided would have demanded the 2nd tier homeless, ones without RVs but tents should be allowed to put their tents up on sidewalks.


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