East Palo Alto considers banning overnight RV parking

After three hours of debate a city council committee in East Palo Alto are closer to deciding on what to do about the problem of overnight RV parking on city streets. 

The problems of a lack of affordable housing, and recreational vehicles camping on city streets for weeks and months at a time has come to a head in East Palo Alto.

The temporary solution is to hold two separate meetings. A joint committee in a 4 to 1 vote decided to have separate meetings; one on a potential RV parking ban and another to discuss partnerships with houses of worship and social services to find a solution. 

Wednesday evening, East Palo Alto officials towed away the last piece in an armada of RV's that had called the 1100 block of Weeks Street home. KTVU talked to one RV resident who didn't want to give his name.

"They're just pushing people around. that's not a solution to what the problem is," said the middle- aged man who says he works two jobs but still can't afford market rate apartment rents in the area.

The problem he refers to, is lining Bay Street, one block over from Weeks. For one year, officials say RV owners have dumped trash, and emptied their portable toilets into storm drains on Weeks. They provided these pictures to show waste had backed-up onto the street.

East Palo Alto assistant city manager showed KTVU pictures of raw sewage flowing up from the drains. The drains were cleared Tuesday, but In response to the hazard, and fears forecast rainfall would lead to flooding, the city ordered the RVs out.

"We didn't want the residents or the occupants of the RVs, our residents, or people who work here, or even people who are passing on the bay trail to be exposed to sewage," said Charpentier.

Backlash against a perceived attack on RV residents flared at a duel committee meeting at City Hall. The city wants to ban overnight parking for vehicles larger than seven feet-by-seven feet-by 20 feet. But dozens of residents disagree. They packed the council chambers at City Hall, and stood in line for hours to voice their opinion that went well into the night.

"There's some families living out here, with babies and it's... I would trade places with them. but when the city is still going after them? There's nine, 20 of them and this can be solved," said committee member Bernardo Huerta. 

One of the solutions being discussed inside is having the 50-plus churches in this city donate space on some of their land for the RVs to park. Or staging portable toilets at sites where RVs are parked.