Silicon Valley city faces new legal battle over RV dwellers

Silicon Valley city faces new legal battle over RV dwellers
Silicon Valley city faces new legal battle over RV dwellers. Photo Credit: Unsplash
By Wesley Severson - Published on July 23, 2021.

People living in their RVs and other oversized vehicles on city streets and properties have been point of seemingly endless contention in several Bay Area cities in recent years. Now, the city of Mountain View is back in the spotlight after the ACLU and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley launched a new class-action lawsuit against the city. The Mercury News reports reports that the lawsuit concerns six people who will represent all of the RV dwellers in the city.

The lawsuit claims that Mountain View’s recent RV and oversized vehicle parking ban violates state and federal law by discriminating against people who have disabilities and live in the RVs.

The suit claims the ban would force roughly 191 RV dwellers to leave the city of Mountain View, according to San Jose Spotlight

“We filed the lawsuit with the hopes of striking down the RV ban so folks will have a place to park in Mountain View. We’re really hoping the city will not ticket or tow any RVs that are being used for shelter until folks can access affordable housing,” Michael Trujillo with the Law Foundation told San Jose Spotlight.

The city issued a statement saying “due to their size, an oversized vehicle on a narrow roadway can encroach into the vehicle lane of traffic, which can increase the risk of collisions for motor vehicles and bicycles as well as make it more difficult for emergency and critical service vehicles to navigate the street safely.”

Mountain View officials also point to the fact that the voters in November were in favor of the RV ban and that the city got the word out to RV dwellers and gave them options for other housing. City officials also say they notified property owners about new signs that are now being installed in the popular RV parking areas that explain the new rules.

The president of the Affordable Housing Action Network of Santa Clara County, Sandy Perry, believes that if the RV dwellers are forced out by police that they’ll end up coming back and the process will start all over again. “Since there is no place to go, if people get moved along, they will move back. I’m sure Mountain View will experience the same thing,” Perry told San Jose Spotlight.

Perry says that the city of San Jose has been shuffling RV dwellers from one place to another for years. Many of the Mountain View residents may end up relocating to San Jose. SJPD backed off its enforcement of RV parking during the pandemic but it is now enforcing 72-hour parking restrictions on city streets.

Several other Bay Area cities have also tried to enact bans on RV parking on city streets, with another recent ban in Pacifica. Like Mountain View, that ban is also being challenged by a lawsuit from the ACLU.  The city of Santa Cruz passed a law in 2015 banning overnight parking of large vehicles, but it has been held up in legal challenges and pushback from the California Coastal Commission, who cited restrictions on coastal access caused by such bans. As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, the city council voted last month to reexamine the originally proposed ban and potentially create a sanctioned parking program instead.