Starting this week, Mountain View will have 17 new safe parking spots available for residents living in their vehicles.
The city’s safe parking lot, located in Lot B outside Shoreline Amphitheatre, will expand from 29 spots to 46, allowing program operator Move Mountain View to get more people off their waitlist and into the safe parking lot.
“At Move Mountain View, we talk about it being a service of compassion, kindness, but yet empowering individuals to go forward with their lives,” said Amber Stime, the organization’s director, at a June 28 event honoring the expansion. “We get that opportunity to make that difference or to help them make that difference in their lives.”
The free program provides temporary, safe locations for unhoused Mountain View residents to park the vehicles – typically oversized ones like RVs – that they’re living in. Residents of the city’s safe parking lots also receive services including case management, restrooms and other basic needs.
Officials from the city, Santa Clara County and Move Mountain View leaders gathered at the lot on June 28 to talk about what the expansion will mean for Mountain View and its unhoused residents. Move Mountain View currently operates the largest safe parking program in Santa Clara County, offering a total of 114 parking spaces including the recent increase.
District 5 County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who attended the event, spoke about the humble origins of the Move Mountain View program. Simitian said he was first approached by pastor Brian Leong in the fall of 2015 asking how local faith communities could help the unhoused.
The supervisor suggested a small safe parking operation, if Leong’s congregation had the space to host one, and the pastor got straight to work, Simitian recalled. A few years later, Leong came back to Simitian to share that he’d formed a nonprofit called Move Mountain View and was ready to get started on building a safe parking program.
“Those first four spaces now are more than 100, with an additional increment today,” Simitian said to a small crowd gathered in the parking lot. “If even 100 doesn’t sound like all that much, what happens is people move into and through that system, go on to find themselves in a better place, and new folks then can access that same opportunity.”
Stime said Move Mountain View currently has a waitlist and she expects the new spots to fill up quickly.
One of the important features of Mountain View’s safe parking program is that participants can park in the designated lots 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, rather than having to come and go each day, Mayor Alison Hicks said.
“Our city led the drive to secure and support safe infrastructure and build-out for three dedicated safe parking lots,” Hicks said at the June 28 event. “Also vitally importantly, we built strong partnerships with the county of Santa Clara – that partnership is what enables people to stay here 24/7 – and a range of other services to support unstably housed residents on a path to permanent housing.”
As Mountain View continues to expand its safe parking program, some local advocates and unhoused residents have recently voiced the need for additional space to park their commuter vehicles that they use to get around during the day, but not necessarily to live in.
City Manager McCarthy addressed those concerns during a June 27 council meeting, sharing with council members that the city recently received requests to add parking for commuter vehicles at the Shoreline lot.
“Tonight, we now know that the spaces are needed or wanted, and so staff is going to be working with (Shoreline Amphitheater owner) Live Nation and exploring the possibility of adding some spaces for commuter vehicles,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know how many or what that may mean, but we will restart those conversations.”