Mountain View settles lawsuit over RV parking
A Mountain View police officer talks with people living in RVs about parking enforcement deadlines along a side street off Wright Avenue on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Photo by Joseph Geha.

A group of RV owners who sued Mountain View over rules that banned oversized vehicles from parking on city streets have reached a tentative settlement.

The settlement, announced on Thursday, will wrap up a more than yearlong legal dispute over the city’s dual ordinances—banning oversized vehicles from parking on “narrow streets” that are 40 feet or less in width and any street with a bike lane. About 90% of city streets are considered narrow, according to a Mountain View analysis. Attorneys for the group said in court filings the controversial rules were unconstitutional and “designed to banish the city’s low-income populations.”

The full details of the settlement are not yet public, though as part of the agreement the city said it will ensure there will be three miles of public streets where oversized vehicle parking is allowed for the next four years.

The city recently published a map highlighting the various parking restrictions on streets in the city, showing where RVs and oversized vehicles are not banned from parking.

A portion of Mountain View’s map showing in black where oversized vehicle parking will be allowed. Image courtesy of Mountain View.

However, any vehicle parking in the city is not allowed to stay in the same spot for longer than 72 hours without risking being towed or cited, city officials said.

Mountain View will begin enforcing 72-hour parking restrictions and oversized vehicle rules on Oct. 1, after doing outreach to people living in RVs in the city.

On Thursday, a Mountain View police officer on the department’s community outreach team was seen handing out printouts of the map and other information about the deadline to people living in RVs off of Wright Avenue.

A neighbor, Colette Pierce, said the city should not force people living in RVs to move every 72 hours. She said enforcement will put more pressure on people who are already in a tough situation.

“We’ve come to know our neighbors and we appreciate them as individuals. Now we don’t who is going to be replacing them,” Pierce told San José Spotlight.

City spokesperson Lenka Wright told San José Spotlight the city is focused on sharing information with people living in RVs about the changes and resources available to them.

“The city will continue to work with nonprofits and community-based organizations in addressing concerns that may come up with these parking-related ordinance,” she said.

City changes course

After the Mountain View City Council initially passed the narrow streets ordinance in October 2019, it was challenged by referendum and put on the ballot the next year. About 57% of city voters approved the narrow streets ordinance in November 2020.

Just as the city began installing signs to enforce the rules, the class action lawsuit was filed in July 2021 by six people who live in RVs, fighting on behalf of all RV dwellers in the city.

Attorneys from the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Disability Rights Advocates represented the group, along with attorneys from Hewlett Packard and the King & Spalding law firm.

Erin Neff, an attorney at the law foundation, said the organization wouldn’t comment on the details of the settlement until it’s made public.

“We are happy with the settlement and looking forward to sharing it publicly soon,” Neff told San José Spotlight.

The lawsuit said the city’s rules violate federal and state laws and make it “virtually impossible” for people who must live in RVs to do so in the city amid a worsening wealth gap and housing crisis.

“Rather than implementing long-term and sustainable affordable housing programs to protect its lower-income residents, the city seeks to expel its indigent residents whose life circumstances require them to live in their vehicles,” the lawsuit said.

Wright said the city “continues to provide a compassionate approach” with issues involving unstably housed or homeless people.

She added the city, in conjunction with Santa Clara County, runs a 101-space safe parking program at sites throughout Mountain View for people living in RVs and cars. Many Bay Area cities have set up such programs, including San Jose, where a VTA parking lot is being eyed for safe parking.

The city also opened LifeMoves Mountain View last year, offering interim housing and supportive services to people who are unhoused.

Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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