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As Mountain View plans to expand safe parking, advocates say more space is needed for commuter vehicles

RVs at the Shoreline safe parking lot on Jan. 4, 2023. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

As the city of Mountain View prepares to increase the number of spots at the Shoreline safe parking lot by more than 50%, program participants still need a place to park their commuter vehicles – the cars they use to get around during the day, but not to sleep in.

The situation is part of a larger challenge the city faces in meeting the constant demand for more space devoted to people living in their vehicles, while also accommodating the secondary vehicles that many of those residents rely on to get around on a daily basis, city staff say.

From the perspective of local advocates for the unhoused, adding commuter parking at the Shoreline lot is “a small ask for a big gain,” as Hope’s Corner board member Marilyn Winkleby put it.

“It’s about allowing people that are from Mountain View and are working in Mountain View and have been here for some time to have a place to park their cars near their homes,” Winkleby told the Voice.

The Shoreline safe parking lot currently provides 29 spaces for people to park the vehicles they sleep in, which for the most part are oversized vehicles and RVs. In February, the city approved adding 17 additional safe parking spaces at Shoreline, a much needed expansion that’s slated to be implemented soon.

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But unlike other safe parking lots in Mountain View, like the one on Evelyn Avenue, the Shoreline lot has virtually no space dedicated to commuter vehicles. According to city staff, the lot currently has two commuter parking spots. By comparison, the Evelyn lot has 21 spaces that can be used for both living or commuter parking purposes, plus an additional 15 spaces solely for commuter vehicles.

The city previously provided access to 15 commuter parking spots for Shoreline safe parking residents at the Shoreline Dog Park, staff told the Voice. However, those spots were discontinued in June 2021 after residents said the location was not desirable due to their distance from Shoreline Lot B, where the safe parking spots are.

Local advocate Dave Arnone, who delivers meals to RV residents every week, said that ever since parking privileges at the dog park ended, some residents started parking their ancillary vehicles in nearby Google-owned lots. But recently, the tech company blocked access to those private lots, Arnone said, forcing safe parking lot residents to park their commuter cars as far as Space Park Way or near the Computer History Museum.

Volunteer Dave Arnone hands a hot meal to a resident at the Shoreline safe parking lot in Mountain View on Feb. 13, 2023. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

“I am hearing from residents that this is a hardship and a threat to their safety as they walk to and from their cars in the dark,” Arnone wrote in a June 21 email to city staff. “There are young women at the lot who need to get to work in the early morning hours and they are frightened to walk back and forth.”

In a June 22 emailed response to Arnone, City Manager Kimbra McCarthy said city staff are working to balance the need for more safe parking spaces with the need for commuter vehicle parking.

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“It is not easy,” McCarthy said. “We are in a situation where we do not have unlimited spaces given the operational, financial, legal and regulatory limitations, and it is beneficial (to) have more viable parking spaces for living when the goal is to help people find a safe place to park the vehicle they are inhabiting.”

As a board member for Hope’s Corner, which provides free meals to RV residents and the unhoused, Winkleby is in close contact with several families living at the Shoreline lot. She said one young person she knows who lives at the Shoreline lot is a full-time college student while also working a part time job.

“For the half-time job, the person gets up at 5:30 in the morning and has to be at that job at 6,” Winkleby said. “That just doesn’t work when your car is far away. A few people have scooters, or bicycles, or are just walking. But there’s a whole lot of anxiety now about what there is to do.”

City staff emphasized that despite the lack of ancillary vehicle parking at the Shoreline lot, the upcoming program expansion will offer a stable place for more residents to park their homes.

“The expansion at the Shoreline Lot B safe parking lot will provide 17 new spaces for vehicles being lived in,” the city’s Chief Communications Officer Lenka Wright told the Voice. “This expansion will bring Mountain View’s program capacity up to 114, which is the largest safe parking program in Santa Clara County.”

But from Arnone’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense to offer more safe parking spots without also providing more space for residents to park their commuter vehicles.

“If you take seriously this idea that this is housing to help people transition to a place more stable,” Arnone said, “then supporting somebody’s ability to commute to and from work feels very natural to me.”

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As Mountain View plans to expand safe parking, advocates say more space is needed for commuter vehicles

by Malea Martin / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 26, 2023, 1:34 pm

As the city of Mountain View prepares to increase the number of spots at the Shoreline safe parking lot by more than 50%, program participants still need a place to park their commuter vehicles – the cars they use to get around during the day, but not to sleep in.

The situation is part of a larger challenge the city faces in meeting the constant demand for more space devoted to people living in their vehicles, while also accommodating the secondary vehicles that many of those residents rely on to get around on a daily basis, city staff say.

From the perspective of local advocates for the unhoused, adding commuter parking at the Shoreline lot is “a small ask for a big gain,” as Hope’s Corner board member Marilyn Winkleby put it.

“It’s about allowing people that are from Mountain View and are working in Mountain View and have been here for some time to have a place to park their cars near their homes,” Winkleby told the Voice.

The Shoreline safe parking lot currently provides 29 spaces for people to park the vehicles they sleep in, which for the most part are oversized vehicles and RVs. In February, the city approved adding 17 additional safe parking spaces at Shoreline, a much needed expansion that’s slated to be implemented soon.

But unlike other safe parking lots in Mountain View, like the one on Evelyn Avenue, the Shoreline lot has virtually no space dedicated to commuter vehicles. According to city staff, the lot currently has two commuter parking spots. By comparison, the Evelyn lot has 21 spaces that can be used for both living or commuter parking purposes, plus an additional 15 spaces solely for commuter vehicles.

The city previously provided access to 15 commuter parking spots for Shoreline safe parking residents at the Shoreline Dog Park, staff told the Voice. However, those spots were discontinued in June 2021 after residents said the location was not desirable due to their distance from Shoreline Lot B, where the safe parking spots are.

Local advocate Dave Arnone, who delivers meals to RV residents every week, said that ever since parking privileges at the dog park ended, some residents started parking their ancillary vehicles in nearby Google-owned lots. But recently, the tech company blocked access to those private lots, Arnone said, forcing safe parking lot residents to park their commuter cars as far as Space Park Way or near the Computer History Museum.

“I am hearing from residents that this is a hardship and a threat to their safety as they walk to and from their cars in the dark,” Arnone wrote in a June 21 email to city staff. “There are young women at the lot who need to get to work in the early morning hours and they are frightened to walk back and forth.”

In a June 22 emailed response to Arnone, City Manager Kimbra McCarthy said city staff are working to balance the need for more safe parking spaces with the need for commuter vehicle parking.

“It is not easy,” McCarthy said. “We are in a situation where we do not have unlimited spaces given the operational, financial, legal and regulatory limitations, and it is beneficial (to) have more viable parking spaces for living when the goal is to help people find a safe place to park the vehicle they are inhabiting.”

As a board member for Hope’s Corner, which provides free meals to RV residents and the unhoused, Winkleby is in close contact with several families living at the Shoreline lot. She said one young person she knows who lives at the Shoreline lot is a full-time college student while also working a part time job.

“For the half-time job, the person gets up at 5:30 in the morning and has to be at that job at 6,” Winkleby said. “That just doesn’t work when your car is far away. A few people have scooters, or bicycles, or are just walking. But there’s a whole lot of anxiety now about what there is to do.”

City staff emphasized that despite the lack of ancillary vehicle parking at the Shoreline lot, the upcoming program expansion will offer a stable place for more residents to park their homes.

“The expansion at the Shoreline Lot B safe parking lot will provide 17 new spaces for vehicles being lived in,” the city’s Chief Communications Officer Lenka Wright told the Voice. “This expansion will bring Mountain View’s program capacity up to 114, which is the largest safe parking program in Santa Clara County.”

But from Arnone’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense to offer more safe parking spots without also providing more space for residents to park their commuter vehicles.

“If you take seriously this idea that this is housing to help people transition to a place more stable,” Arnone said, “then supporting somebody’s ability to commute to and from work feels very natural to me.”

Comments

Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Jun 26, 2023 at 2:10 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2023 at 2:10 pm

This is definitely not the right decision. If you want more of something, you subsidize it. I don't think there are any Mountain View residents paying their rent or mortgage thinking that they really want more broken down RVs clogging the streets and producing more detritus. The bottom line is if you can't afford to live in an area, you move to a less expensive area that you can afford. That is being a responsible adult.


SalsaMusic
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jun 26, 2023 at 6:12 pm
SalsaMusic, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2023 at 6:12 pm

Dan is correct. I had some sympathy for longtime residents. But the story told me there is a college student who chose to go to college here without a place to live. Hmmm


Clarence Rown
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Jun 26, 2023 at 7:11 pm
Clarence Rown, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2023 at 7:11 pm

To apply Dan's statement to the housing shortage in Mountain View would suggest that providing subsidies for housing could help alleviate the shortage. This can take various forms, such as direct subsidies to builders or developers, rental assistance programs, or tax breaks for affordable housing initiatives.

By offering subsidies, builders and developers may be incentivized to construct more housing units, thereby increasing the overall supply in the area. This can help address the shortage and potentially create a more balanced market.

Subsidies can target specific income groups or promote the construction of affordable housing units. This can make housing more accessible to lower-income residents who might otherwise struggle to find affordable options in the area.

A healthy housing market contributes to overall economic vitality. By subsidizing housing, Mountain View can attract more residents, potentially leading to increased economic activity, job creation, and a more diverse and vibrant community.

Subsidizing housing can contribute to reducing income inequality and promote social equity by ensuring that people from different socioeconomic backgrounds have access to suitable housing options within the city.

SalsaMusic, if a college student can't afford to live where they go to school, should they only choose to expand their horizons, education, and opportunity at schools they can afford, housing and all? This would seem to perpetuate generational inequality. Do we not have an obligation as a city to house the people that are here to improve their lives?


Jerry
Registered user
another community
on Jun 27, 2023 at 10:24 am
Jerry, another community
Registered user
on Jun 27, 2023 at 10:24 am

“I am hearing from residents that this is a hardship and a threat to their safety as they walk to and from their cars in the dark,”

Hardship? Is the area really that unsafe that people don't feel comfortable walking around? I thought these safe parking lots had security guards? This statement seems like hyperbole.



Leslie Bain
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jun 27, 2023 at 12:59 pm
Leslie Bain, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jun 27, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Some people in this world are against social safety nets. They like to make statements about “personal responsibility”, they basically blame the poor for being poor. This approach is consistent with “blame the victim” mentality, a psychological phenomenon that helps people feel safe, that certain “bad things” would never happen to THEM because they are behaving in ways that are more virtuous than the victims did.

Criticizing a student for trying to make a better life for themselves because they are living in an RV? A person who is a full-time student and gets up at 5:30 am in order to get to their part-time job? I don't get it. What is the preferred alternative?

I noticed that additional parking IS NECESSARY for low-income people who live in RV, and contrasted that to pressure put on the City Council to reduce parking requirements in affordable housing projects. There is a myth that low-income people cannot even afford cars, this is apparently not even true for RV dwellers.

@Clarence, Have you changed your mind? I find your words here to be inconsistent with what you posted very recently on another thread:

“Allocating funds directly to developers and landlords may not effectively address the needs of the broader population or address systemic issues related to housing affordability.

The transfer of tax dollars to developers and landlords exacerbates existing wealth inequalities. These subsidies or incentives primarily benefit individuals and entities who are already financially well-off, potentially widening the wealth gap and perpetuating a system that favors the privileged.” - Web Link

Now you seem to think that subsidies ARE a good idea? If so, I’m thrilled to hear it.


Resident of MV
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2023 at 6:15 pm
Resident of MV, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2023 at 6:15 pm

“This expansion will bring Mountain View’s program capacity up to 114, which is the largest safe parking program in Santa Clara County.”

I used to think that I am compassionate but now I think I am just being taking advantage of.

Mountain View has only about 4% of Santa Clara County’s population and there are several cities much larger than Mountain View in Santa Clara County.

Yet, Mountain View has the largest safe parking program!

When Mountain View wanted to ban large vehicles parking on narrow streets which the city council passed and the residents voted for, the city was being sued!

Mountain View is the city that is doing the most to help, not only in Santa Clara County but in the whole Bay Area! I saved article links that reported data on that.

But everything we do is not enough, these people keep wanting more and more and more!


Clarence Rown
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Jun 29, 2023 at 5:01 pm
Clarence Rown, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Jun 29, 2023 at 5:01 pm

Leslie, since you asked both here and in a different article, I appreciate your engagement and attention to my previous comments. It's important to note that as a resident and community member, I'm constantly learning and adapting my perspectives based on new information and evolving discussions.

In the context of the previous thread you mentioned, it's crucial to recognize that discussions around complex issues like housing shortages involve numerous factors, and there is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. Different approaches may have their merits and drawbacks, and what may seem effective in one context might not be as viable in another. The intricacies of the housing shortage in Mountain View may also influence the effectiveness of certain strategies.

Furthermore, it's important to acknowledge that there are diverse opinions on how to address housing shortages, and no single viewpoint can claim to have all the answers. As an individual, I'm still navigating the complexities of the issue and seeking a well-rounded understanding.

I believe constructive dialogue and open-mindedness are essential in finding the most appropriate solutions. By engaging in discussions, we can exchange ideas, challenge assumptions, and collectively work towards a better understanding of the challenges we face.

Therefore, it's important to approach these discussions with an open mind, acknowledging the complexities of the issue and embracing the potential for personal growth and evolving perspectives.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jul 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jul 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm

MV does not have the county's largest low and very low income housing program (per capita). This is a very specific temporary housing supply program (low income and permanent is better - and more costly). Do we have a new tiny temporary house program (think so). Do we have a 'tent city' with services program (don't think so).

-So, like UC Santa Cruz past 'student RV lot' this site can help support low-income college students. Great!

Jut hard to hear the city administrator/spokesperson hemming & hawing!
Provide more on-site parking in-this-instance.


Cody Jackson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2023 at 7:43 am
Cody Jackson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2023 at 7:43 am

For those without vehicles, a section of Mountain View should be set aside for tent residencies.


Kling-Kling Bird
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2023 at 7:53 pm
Kling-Kling Bird, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2023 at 7:53 pm

MVgo shuttle's East Bayshore route stops at Google's building at the end of Crittenden Lane. If it also stopped at the Safe Parking lot, it would offer residents an alternative to commuting by car. Add another stop at Montecito/Stierlin, and it could accommodate kids going to school and grocery shoppers.

MVgo ridership is languishing along with Caltrain, and needs something to justify its existence.


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