Mountain View council does not enact oversized RV ban on city streets

City leaders in Mountain View chose early Wednesday morning not to enact a controversial ban outlawing parking of oversized vehicles on city streets. It’s an issue throughout the Bay Area with rents too high, many people are living in RVs. Legal activists call it unconstitutional.

The council meeting lasted until 3:30 a.m. when the council chose not to enact the ban, but directed staff to bring them a different ordinance in the fall that would address and enforce immediate health and safety concerns around parks, bike and pedestrian safety along major corridors and driveways.

Both the ACLU and the Silicon Valley Law Foundation claim it’s unfair to ban RV dwellers if there’s no alternative living situation. In the Bay Area, San Mateo is the only city that bans RV parking 24/7 in residential neighborhoods. Cities like East Palo Alto and Berkeley ban RVs overnight.

“It’s inhumane, it's actually outlawing poverty,” said Janet Stevens of Mountain View. “How can anyone afford to live here?”

Stevens is rooted in Mountain View and lives in a RV on Continental Road. She said many residents like her can't afford the rents in Silicon Valley.

“These people are not gun runners, not prostitutes, they don't do anything more illegal than getting parking tickets for being 18 inches off the curb which I’ve gotten twice,” said Stevens.

City leaders in Mountain View had considered two options. One would ban RV parking overnight. The strictest option would ban it 24/7 for oversized vehicles taller and wider than seven feet and longer than 22 feet. Permits will be given for those with disabilities or if the RV belongs to a home.

“It’s is very surprising,” said Shree Shrivas of San Diego. 

Shrivas who’s visiting family and is from San Diego has mixed feelings on a problem that’s gotten out of control. At last count, roughly 200 RVs line city streets on any given day. Many of them near parks.

“Not knowing who these people are and quality of life,” said Shrivas. “It’s going to impact the safety of residents that live in the area.”

Safety and public health are among the concerns. An alternative solution that city leaders had also considered was a safe parking lot program where RVs can park overnight, up to 60 possible spots available in city controlled lots.

“There aren't enough spaces and there would be no place for them to go during the day,” said Former Mayor Lenny Siegel. “The proposal isn't good enough.”

“There are no other cities in Silicon Valley that have a ban that's as restrictive,” said Michael Trujillo of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. 

Trujillo said it’s is unfair to punish RV residents based on their circumstances.

“It’s unconstitutional, cruel and usual punishment for city governments to penalize for individuals for sleeping outside when they are not providing an individual to sleep indoors,” said Trujillo.