Berkeley RV owners resist city street sweep

Dozens of RVs parked in Northwest Berkeley are on a deadline.

The City of Berkeley has given RV owners until Wednesday to relocate out of the area of 8th street and Harrison street, offering them permits to a new safe parking site two miles away, or risk having their vehicles towed.

The safe parking site at 742 Grayson street has space for 40 RVs, but many RV owners on 8th and Harrison are comfortable where they've lived for over three years, and are resisting relocation.

Amber Whitson, a mechanic who lives in her RV parked along 8th street, said officials from the City of Berkeley put a citation on her work van and towed it away last Wednesday. She and her neighbors, who organize under the name "Friends on Wheels" say they won't vacate the area.

"I think we may just make a stand here," Chris Castle, an RV neighbor and fellow member of Friends on Wheels said.

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RV owners say they received parking permits from city officials on September 29, allowing them to park at SPARK, the Safe Parking and Respite Kickstart site on Grayson Street, operated by, Dorothy Day House, Berkeley, a nonprofit.

Robbi Montoya, Executive Director of Dorothy Day House

"Along with them being able to park there safely with a beautiful clean area, is they'll have restrooms, clean water, but what Dorothy Day does is so much more, "Robbi Montoya, the executive director of Dorothy Day House Berkeley, said.

The problem is, some RVs are inoperable, and either don't have the gas or wiring to move to SPARK in the next few days, Yesica Prado, an RV resident in Berkeley who also sits on the board of Where Do We Go? Berkeley, an organization that supports unhoused the city's residents, explained.

Officials at the city of Berkeley did not respond to KTVU's request for comment.

"We're leaving a lot of people behind here, and that's exactly what we don't want to do is like, some people go to safety and then some people just get towed and lose their homes?" Prado said. "That doesn't sit right."

Prado wants to negotiate with Berkeley city officials to help bring those inoperable RVs to SPARK.

The safe parking site will provide RV owners with weekly groceries, mechanical support, portable bathrooms, and other amenities. Charging stations and a large communal table will arrive at the site in the coming months, Montoya said, noting that as long as there is no threat to public safety, there will be no limit on pets brought to the site, and visitors are allowed.

"We take everything on a person-to-person basis, it's not that stringent that we have to make hard fast rules," Montoya said. "That's not the way life works, that's not the way Dorothy Day does business."