Town Square

Civil rights attorneys protest Mountain View's RV ban

Original post made on May 13, 2019

Mountain View's proposed ban on large vehicles has provoked a stern warning from civil rights attorneys who say it would discriminate against the city's homeless population.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 13, 2019, 1:47 PM


Posted by Poppadop
a resident of Willowgate
on May 13, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Do the occupants of RVs really qualify as "homeless"? Seems to me they HAVE a place to live; it's just that it's mobile. I'd like to see the city challenge the ACLU's threatened claim of discrimination, on that basis. (And, while we're at it, why can't existing law about not parking more than 72 hours in one spot without moving a certain distance be enforced?)

Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Enforcement of existing laws is the answer. Otherwise, this will be a waste of public funds to defend an unneeded ordinance. How much money has been spent on staff time so far?
What are the police paid to do anyway?

Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Maybe we need to notify the ACLU of the total ban is cities like Los Altos, Palo alto, Menlo park and atherton Just to name a few. They won’t allow any homeless or RVs or car living in their cities.
I would be happy to start a petition to the ACLU and also to contact the city Council

Posted by MVFlyer
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Why is the ACLU singling out MV? Have they threatened other cities in the area that have banned RVs in one form or fashion?

Don't get me wrong--I'm actually not against these folks parking here, but I don't think the city should be the only one allowing parking along city streets. And I think the city has tried to give options, much more than our neighboring cities who just kicked them out. But the road to good intentions...

Posted by @MVFlyer
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2019 at 3:30 pm

You asked why are they targeting Mtn.View,

Simple, we are cursed with having these activists living in our city, Lenny Siegel, who works with the Voice, who wants to turn Mtn.View into the South Bay city of Berkely, words from Lenny's own mouth.

Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 13, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Tell the ACLU to start with the cities that have had long term bans on campers parking on the street, if they are successful then Mountain View will take another look.
I can’t see how these people can get by with swatting on the street.
Please enforce the current laws strictly as a modest start.

Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 13, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Wait till ACLU hear about the parking lot near Pioneer and Evelyn. Once RVs are parked there, it will be forever.

Posted by Member
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2019 at 3:50 pm

THIS IS EXACTLY WHY WE SHOULD NOT WAIT! Talk about unconstitutional to single out Mt. View and attempt to enforce something they have ZERO authority over. ZERO. The BIGGEST mistake of Mt. View is this BS time lag. Enact the rule in 60 DAYS, DONE. This is only kicking the can down the road, and opens us up to this kind of BS. Then in 18 months it becomes another political issue. This is MAKING IT WORSE because it increases tensions on both sides. It's just going to get uglier as time goes by and folks start patrolling themselves. This reminds me of another area... hmmm...

Politics playing games and EVERYONE pays the price.

Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2019 at 4:07 pm

this makes me sick. I wrote off the ACLU years ago when they fought the LDS church (aka Mormons) over Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. That's a sacred space for them, in the city they founded.

anyway, back to Mtn View. The liberal faction on the city council has done some real damage to the city, imo (and I thought I was pretty liberal myself, until the previous administration was voted in over 4 years ago). How about protecting the quality of life in this city? Our neighbors do it and their residents benefit.

Posted by Jake O.
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 13, 2019 at 4:15 pm

I guess what some people call an ordinance, other people call a ban. I don't recall the city ever calling it a ban. Correct me if I'm wrong but the ordinance wouldn't allow over night parking of tall vehicles?

If a tourist drove around some parts of the city, they'd think the city was hit by a recession.

Its time the city and PD start enforcing the 72 hr parking time limit.

Posted by A stern finger shaking at MV
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 13, 2019 at 4:17 pm

That's what that letter was, based on information provided to them by the RV group, surely worded evenly and not biased or falsely accusatory in any way (wink)

The ACLU would not likely get involved but they cut these guys a letter as something they would do for them.
They would need to prove in court that MV's RV ban was specifically targeted to drive out the homeless, but ONLY the RV "homeless".

Meanwhile, Steven's creek trail campsite inhabitants will sue because efforts to keep them from living down in the creek in mini villages is somehow unconstitutional.
It's silly, this is just a letter.

Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on May 13, 2019 at 4:48 pm

psr is a registered user.

Once again, the ACLU decides that the rights of the many are outweighed by the desires of the few. Despite the fact that the street-dwellers do not pay for the streets they park on, the services they absorb from the cities they inhabit or the people they intimidate with their presence, their rights somehow are more important than those of the actual residents.

Living on the street doesn't make you a terrible person, but it also doesn't make you more noble than the people who are subsidizing your existence. Nobody is saying these people can't come to town. We are simply asking that they not set up permanent residence in a place that they don't pay to support.

It is well past time to enforce the 72 hour law that is currently on the books. If the ACLU has anything to say about that, I suggest that the addresses of those ACLU lawyers be made public so that these transient people will know where they can go to park in a driveway for as long as they choose. The ACLU should be happy to live under the circumstances they wish to impose on others. Lenny Siegel should also volunteer to allow some of these folks to reside with him. People are tired of politicians and civil servants telling people to tolerate what they themselves will not. If you want credibility, it's time to walk the talk yourselves.

Posted by hmmm
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 13, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Anything with the word UNION only means one thing, and that is anti American, communist philosophy.

If a Union supports it, the best thing is to vote against it's recommendations.

Posted by RonTT
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2019 at 6:04 pm

I find it interesting that once people here who see themselves as liberals have to see the homeless on their own street, it brings out their inner conservative. That's kind of what happens. I was thinking I could have done a post on this, but then I think there's only so much we can handle all at once, because obviously there's people doing it in other cities. I think they're taking an ideological stand. And my guess is that's what's driving it.

Now, the most surprising thing about what's happened is, there are no real solutions. There's no action plan. There's only blame. It's all politics, man. All the things that you've heard about — you hear all this talk about police brutality — this and that, there's no evidence based solutions. There's no real way to actually deal with that. And all they can do is blame the 'losers'.

Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 13, 2019 at 6:32 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Some better info you said:

“Why don’t you invest some of your own capital in an affordable housing development in Mountain View and report back to everyone on how it turned out.”

I am currently responsible for protecting the lives of hundereds of thousands of people worldwide. That is my Job. My specific skills and abilities are very rare. So if I left simply because you want me to do so, I can put many lives in jeopardy, including yours. You said:

“Or successfully raise capital from others using your basis for returns.”

Again, I have much more important matters to deal with. You said:

“If you have, cite specifics and enlighten us. If you haven’t, you need to admit you don’t know what you are talking about.”

Whereas you have provided no basis for your claim at all? Now that is an interesting argument. You said:

“Expenses are 15k per year per unit. Not month.”

So are you saying it is a one time expense, or a yearly expense, make it clear. Otherwise you are not providing better information at all. You said:

“If the value of a unit is as you have suggested, just the taxes alone are 8k per unit per year.”

What is a unit to you, is it an apartment unit or a building? Your implication is it is per apartment unit. That does not seem to be viable. For example my apartment before being bought for 4.5 times its value had a tax bill of only $13,000 annually, or $1,300 per apartment unit annually. The new buyer can go to the county and get the property reassessed so that the “ASSUMED” value is NOT the purchased value. This is completely in the control of the new owner. Whose responsibility is that? In effect this buyer set himself up to fail by not negotiating the fair value of the property, which caused his taxes to be raise by a factor of 4.5 times. You said:

“So figure out your debt service on constructing a project at 700k per unit and holding rents at affordable levels and you will easily see there is no positive cash flow, and no one will take the risk of investing in apartment development without positive returns on day one. If you will, please do!”

I already did so. But lets do some more correction. A recent article disclosed that a current project which costs $49 million produces 70 apartments.

So let’s look at the mortgage cost which is a down payment of 10% or $4,900,000 and a monthly payment of $234,314.91. Lets take into account the down payment which prorated would be $13,611 so the monthly bill would be $247,925. Now you divide that by 70 units and you get a cost per unit of $ 3,541. Monthly. No given that these are studio apartments seem to indicate that there is a lot of price gouging going on in this project.

The fixr website (Web Link">Web Link states that the average cost to build an apartment unit is:

“With mid-range materials, a normal foundation with full basement, efficient doors and windows, all appliances, and "turnkey" finishing would run at an average of $64,575 to $86,100 per unit to complete. This does not include acquisition of the land, however.”

So let’s calculate the cost of building 70 units based on $86,100 per unit which comes to $ 6,027,000.

The land value in Mountain View is estimated at $9,000,000 for a lot the size of .8 acres. The lot in question is only .6 acres. So let’s prorate that cost based on proportion which comes to $6,750,000.

What about the design costs? Based on Fixr (Web Link">Web Link the typical cost is $1,900,000.

What about the fees to build, the Fxr site (Web Link states it costs $430 for Building permit, $18,000 for Demolition, $23,000 for New Space Addition, $82,000 for a Home Theater Addition, $1,200 for Blueprints Submission, $4,000 for the Home Addition Design, $5,300 for Home Addition Framing, $12,000 for Mudroom Addition. Let’s just go for broke and pay for it all which comes to $145,930.

So if you take all that I researched, the project should have come to a total of $12,922,930. Given that the project cost in the report states it will cost $49,000,000, that must mean that the overhead cost on this project excluding my cost breakdown is $36,077,070. Where is that money going?

Now if you take the total I researched get the Mortgage cost it comes to 10% or $1,292,293 and a monthly payment of $ $62,373.34. Let’s take into account the down payment which prorated would be $3,590 so the monthly bill would be $65,963. Now you divide that by 70 units and you get a monthly cost per apartment unit of $942.

The property Tax rate is 0.025 per $100 of the Property value, let use my cost numbers and that would come to $3,231 per month on the property, or $46. Per apartment unit.

Let’s just allocate $4,000 a year for apartment maintenance per unit, which comes to $333.00 a month

Lets just allocate $70,000 year for onsite management (they get a free apartment) then that cost per unit per month would be $70,000 divided by 12 divided by 69 which is $83 a month.

The average utility cost for California is $303 per month. So you divide that by 70 and you get $5 per apartment unit.

The total costs in my model would be $942 + $46 + $333. + $83 + $5 = $1409 to break even on this kind of project using reasonable cost research.

So if you want a 20% profit on a unit you should be able to charge $1691.

This breakdown indicates that the City doesn’t do any research to determine the real costs. They take anyones word regarding how much it costs even if it has a $36,077,070. Markup with no independent means to justify it. They have a 73% markup for “overhead” costs?

Posted by dont go away mad
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2019 at 8:16 pm

dont go away mad is a registered user.

Really? Ok then. Everyone that owns an RV that’s kept in storage yards , stop making those monthly storage payments and park it on the street. We have as much right to park anywhere the RVs are parked. Let’s just flood the streets with ugly RVs. By the way Berkeley banned RVs. Web Link

Posted by Bemused reader
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 13, 2019 at 8:52 pm

TBM, you posted the protracted comment above to the WRONG STORY. It responds to some comment made on another comments thread, not this one. (Jeez. . .)

Posted by Rethink Liberalism
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 13, 2019 at 8:59 pm

People really need to start paying attention to who all these activist people are, who are coming to our city to change it to something that most of do not want.

It goes back directly to Lenny Siegel for organizing all these activist from around the entire Bay Area. The Voice will never do this, but you need to turn on the city council meetings and watch them when they have any housing projects coming up that involve demolition of any old apartment buildings. Watch all these so called non-profit groups, many of them law firms, who come up and speak out against these property owners who want to go out of the rental business and raze their property. Watch these activist group scream up and down saying you can not allow this. Many of these outside groups are the ones that were involved in putting together and writing Measure V. Measure V was written by an outside group who targeted several cities through out the state for rent control.

It is all about breaking down the normal societal order that we had to one that is radically different. There are now judges in Southern California who have blocked the city from tearing down this tent cities that have sprung up along the sidewalks. We do not want tent cities here, but that is the next step.

San Francisco is handing out 400,000 hypodermic needles FREE every month to the cities drug addicts.

It is out of control what is happening in these Liberal cities and people need to rethink supporting the Democratic when they do not care about the quality of life for all, but rather have a lower-equal quality of life for all. That is not compassion.

Pay attention everyone, elections have consequences. We have new council members who seem to have rapidly lost control of their senses and now are strongly on the so called "compassionate side" of issues. I hope one member, I hope she comes to her senses as I voted for her and I never would have guessed she would have folded like a cheap set of cards like she did.

The city council needs to stop all the RV parking NOW, and stop spending any more money on these safe parking spaces. We already spent more that $1 million dollars on this non sense and now you have Lenny Siegel, after being soundly rejected at the ballot box, still trying to ruin our city.

Posted by to PSR
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 13, 2019 at 10:17 pm

PSR, Your comment is beautifully written. I'd put money towards a fund to buy a page of the MV Voice to publish it. You know the Voice will never give our side a fair hearing. I think the RVs should park in the driveways of the Voice editor, reporters, and other staff, if they are so sure these people have more rights than the residents who are being billed for their services.

I have no problem funding assistance for those literally few RV dwellers who can prove they are actual prior Mountain View residents that were pushed out with high rents. However, check with any local policeman and they'll tell you there is a fairly large criminal element living in the RVs, that contractors dump junk RVs on our streets and rent them out to their out of town labor, that some well paid engineers live in some RVs so as not to pay rent or property taxes to the City, that the majority are from out of town and some out of state, etc. We taxpayers have paid over $1M supporting these people, and more of our money is already scheduled to be paid.

Let the ACLU go after all the other cities in the area that have a total ban on street dwellers. The ACLU's inconsistency (in chastising just our city) alone, will doom their lawsuit. Our Council needs to act without the ridiculous and counter-productive delay they now are using.

Posted by RonTT
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2019 at 11:00 pm

Nothing better than seeing limousine liberals unite with conservatives by a platform of hating the poor and homeless. As for the poor people who have to live in their vehicles? Well, apparently no one will give them anything.

This is how America ended up where we are today.

Posted by Billybob
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 14, 2019 at 10:12 am

Lets face it Mountain View is now a dumping ground for every down and out . The City Council should be jailed for there actions . Its obvious the people that pay taxes aren't happy . Our taxes go up but our quality of life goes down . Great job City Council thanks for turning our city into a dumping ground.

Posted by Bemused reader
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 14, 2019 at 10:15 am

See how RonTT completely ignores the substantive points cited by prior commenters on this complex situation, in order to dismiss them offhand because they don't fit his simple narrow ideological world-view.

And THAT is how we ended up with the local situation we have today.

Posted by Alex
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 14, 2019 at 10:44 am

The Chevy Suburban is more than 6 feet tall:
Web Link

Even the cheapest Ford F-150 is over 6 feet tall:
Web Link

Can my non-resident friend visit me and park her F-150 on the street?

Posted by mrs.b
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 14, 2019 at 12:07 pm

mrs.b is a registered user.

There is a difference between parking your rv on the street and LIVING in your rv parked on the street. Our streets were not built for people to live on them. It is dirty & not safe for the inhabitants or the pedestrians. If you are going to go camping, you go to an RV park. You do not park in the city. At RV parks you have water hook ups, electricity, outdoor bathrooms, etc. For the ACLU to defend people who want to camp on city streets is a nuisance lawsuit. Sue the ACLU for the cost of the lawsuit and ask for punitive damages. And BTW, how is banning people from camping on city streets unconstitutional? I dont remember reading anything about camping on city streets in the constitution...they did not even have RVs back then!

Posted by scott rodvold
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 14, 2019 at 2:23 pm

scott rodvold is a registered user.

Please be aware that the "activists" that are mentioned in this story, "WERE ALL" Residents of Mountain View when they were displaced from their housing. All were displaced because of the high price of housing. Some, such as myself, are also disabled. Some are full-time students with part-time jobs. Some have children that go to Whisman schools. All, are current residents of Mountain View.
There's a lot of complaining about Mountain View Vehicle Residents not paying taxes, which is false. We pay state and local sales tax, we pay a higher share of fuel tax for the most part. By the same rationale on taxes, how many apartment renters, and homeowners are "freeloading" and not paying their fair share of taxes by driving electric vehicles? Please don't use the Green argument. Electricity has to be generated by some means, and the toxic batteries are not so Green in their manufacture, nor disposal.
There are any references about the 72 hour ordinance as well. The police do in fact give citations to motor-homes that are parked more than 72 hours in one spot. If anybody would take the time to read this ordinance, you'd see that it's written for abandoned vehicles, not motor-homes, which most definitely are not abandoned. If the police were to enforce the law as it's written, many homeowners with that extra car would soon be upset by having to constantly remember when they last moved it.
It's easy to kick people when they're down, especially when speaking anonymously. There is a page on Facebook generated by the activists a lot of people are complaining about. It's called "Mountain View Valley Residents". Please go there to post if you'd like. While you're there, look up the time and date of the next Community meeting for all members. Please note, not all members are the activists so many of you seem to loathe. Everyone is welcome, and all opinions and comments are welcome at these meetings.

Posted by BDBD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2019 at 10:01 am

BDBD is a registered user.

I read the Voice comments section often, and it's not normal at all to have 100+ likes on any typical comment. This page has 600+ likes on comments opposed to liberalism, unions, and the ACLU. Where did all this activity suddenly come from? Are these real people, or did someone pay for votes? Seems like manipulation to me.

Posted by Siegel's revenge
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 16, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Siegel's revenge is a registered user.

This has Siegel written all over it. That is clear based on the fact that Los Altos, Atherton and other affluent towns are not part of this action.

I know for a fact that some of the people living in these 'vehicles' are employed professionals, they choose live in a $100,000 RV rather than rent a room someplace, why not? Maybe we should all do the same and rent our homes out for 5K per month.

Posted by Abandoned Vehicles=Unmoved Vehicles
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 16, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Abandoned Vehicles=Unmoved Vehicles is a registered user.

@scott rodvold - The Abandoned car ordinance addresses ANY vehicle, car, truck, RV, that is left in one spot for 72 hours. A motorhome meets that criteria. Why aren't you outraged at Los Altos Zero tolerance policy? Is that being addressed by "Mountain View Valley Residents"?

Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 16, 2019 at 6:15 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to BDBD you said:

“I read the Voice comments section often, and it's not normal at all to have 100+ likes on any typical comment. This page has 600+ likes on comments opposed to liberalism, unions, and the ACLU. Where did all this activity suddenly come from? Are these real people, or did someone pay for votes? Seems like manipulation to me.”

I have demonstrated and said this before, it is easy to “stack” votes on the website. All you have to do is clear your browser data and cookies on any device, and you can “re-like” a comment indefinitely. It is especially easy if you have an Ipad because it just takes 10 seconds to arrange another vote with the safari browser.

One simply should ignore the likes on the webpage.

What about the home owners that “rent out” they’re on street parking? There is a lot of that going on. One alternative is to provide a monthly permit for an RV where the City gets something like $50.00 a month. Then you have a fund to deal with those in the minority that leave the space not clean or managed properly. Also you can arrange a citation to charge those in the minority to pay the actual costs themselves, or have their RV towed and unavailable to them.

Just a thought.

Posted by scott rodvold
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm

scott rodvold is a registered user.

For AV=YV:

I stand by what I said. Let me be a little more clear.
People own many extra vehicles, that are used for
weekend enjoyment. Many are parked on the street
waiting to be used. Police don’t constantly monitor
these vehicles the way they do motorhomes. If they
enforce the law the way it’s written for these vehicles
the same way they do for motorhomes, there would be
many haters paying parking tickets.
I live in Mountain View, not Los Altos.
My spellcheck gone wild.
It’s, “Mountain View Vehicle Residents.”