After Mountain View Approves RV Ban, Housing Advocates Vow to Fight it at Ballot Box

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More than 30 mobile homes extend down the block near Rengstorff Park in Mountain View. (Isabella Jibilian/KQED)

After the Mountain View City Council voted to approve a controversial ban of oversized vehicles on some streets in the Silicon Valley hub, housing advocates were collecting signatures on Wednesday to allow voters to decide the issue, instead.

The Council voted Tuesday night to approve ordinances barring the vehicles — like RVs, campers, trailers and motor homes — from parking on narrow streets and in bike lanes, citing traffic and public safety concerns.

Opponents said the pair of measures would impose a de facto total ban on the vehicles in Mountain View, a community made up of many small streets. Mayor Lisa Matichak didn't return KQED requests for comment about the ordinances and their impact.

The bike lane ordinance takes effect in 30 days, while the narrow street ordinance takes effect on June 30, 2020.

Lenny Siegel, the former mayor of Mountain View, said he was part of an effort to collect signatures for a referendum on an upcoming ballot, likely November 2020. Volunteers canvassed for signatures at a Caltrain station in the city’s downtown on Wednesday morning, holding clipboards with signs reading, “Stop the RV ban.”

“The city’s policy on motor homes is intolerant, inhumane, impractical, unconstitutional and now that you’ve got the narrow streets associated with it, dishonest,” Siegel said Tuesday at the City Council meeting.

“A lot of people in Mountain View consider people living in motor homes to be our neighbors,” he added. “Let’s figure out a way for them to do it right rather than just throwing them out.”

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An unidentified woman who spoke in support of the narrow street ordinances said: “This is a regional issue. There is not a lack of compassion on this.”

“We are very willing to help those Mountain View prior residents ... or those that work here to better themselves and get off the street. I don’t want anyone living in an RV,” she added.

RVs and campervans are regularly parked along the road in many Bay Area communities, as sky-high housing costs push some people into creative living situations.

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In Mountain View, some Google staff live right off the tech giant’s campus in campervans. In June, Google pledged $1 billion to help ease Silicon Valley's housing crisis.

Some communities have set limits on the vehicles: The Berkeley City Council voted in March to outlaw overnight RV parking in the city, and in Palo Alto, where campervans and RVs line El Camino Real next to Stanford University, a city rule mandates that people move vehicles on public roads every three days — and at least a half-mile away.

East Palo, San Jose and Oakland have taken different approaches, launching parking programs for RVs.

The Mountain View City Council also approved an ordinance regulating safe parking on Tuesday.

KQED News' Kate Wolffe contributed to this report.