Berkeley considers banning RVs from parking overnight

At the corner of Eighth Street and Harrison in Berkeley, people in rows of RVss are, for now, calling this home. They are caught in a controversy, as the Berkeley City Council contemplates a final vote on whether to ban RVs from parking overnight.    

KTVU met one young man who went by the name "Mark" and didn't want to use his real name. He says he was working in well-paying tech job until his life suddenly turned upside down. 

"A year and a few months ago I had a job with a six-figure salary and was living with my long-term partner of eight years, and I got laid off from my job and two weeks later my partner dumped me," said Mark, sitting in his vehicle next to his elderly dog named Bandit.

He says he suddenly found himself homeless. He says he bought the RV as a last resort to keep from sleeping on the streets. He says he is living on about $1,000 a month and works as ride share driver to help make ends meet.

"Rents have doubled in the last five years in the East Bay  since the last time I had to look for housing. So I used some of my savings to buy the RV," said Mark. 

"Let RV's stay the night. Housing is a human right," chanted some 50 RV owners and activists who marched from People's Park in Berkeley Thursday to the City Hall. 

Outside the city municipal building, they called for city officials to reject a proposed ban on the agenda next Tuesday.

The ban which passed 6-3 in its first reading February 28th, would make it illegal for large vehicles to park from 2 a.m. to 5a.m. on the streets.

Some citizens say the RV's have become a problem, blocking customers and residents parking, adding trash and other problems. 

Advocates for the RV owners say they are victims of the bay area's skyrocketing housing costs.

"It's kind of like eliminating a critical stepping stone that people need to get housed. It's like saying people need to get to high school but removing the middle school system entirely," said Jason Wilson, a Berkeley 12th grader.

"The majority of people struggling with housing and homelessness, they're employed, or students, they are active members of this community," said Melissa Cheatwood of Berkeley.

Councilwoman Cheryl Davila says she hopes the city will find another solution.

"Where are they to go? They're on the streets literally in their vehicles," said Davila, "Their vehicle is their home." 

Councilwoman Davila says she wants Berkeley to consider allowing RV's to park in empty church or business lots, similar to programs in Oakland, San Leandro and Union City.