News


Enforcement to remove El Camino RVs largely ineffective

Some residents say it is time for the city to consider an alternative

A battered Chevrolet van sits parked in a line of RVs and camper vans along El Camino Real on June 19, 2017. The city has issued four citations, all for vehicles, for violating the city's parking ordinance since late June. Photo by Ben Hacker.

The scores of RVs and other vehicles in which people are living along El Camino Real in Palo Alto haven't dwindled much since late June, when the community starting noticing their perpetual presence and police began enforcing the city's parking ordinance.

Now, residents living closest to the vans are saying it is time for the city to come up with a compassionate plan for all concerned.

Police in July and August placed flyers on the vehicles as a warning about the ordinance, which allows vehicles to park for no more than 72 consecutive hours without moving. Vehicles must move a half-mile before re-parking. Following citations, police cite the vehicle owners and, as a last resort, tow the vehicles.

Police have so far cited four vehicles for violating the ordinance, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith wrote in an email. The citations were for vehicles — not necessarily RVs. Two vehicles were cited on Aug. 22, and two on Aug. 23.

"We did a few waves of informational flyer postings, then for vehicles that had repeatedly received informational flyers but had not apparently moved, we placed formal 72-hour tow warnings. For the four vehicles that remained after those, we cited them. We are continuing to monitor the vehicles that are out there, but we are not subscribing to any formal set schedule or phase," Keith wrote.

No vehicles have been towed.

"Our hope remains the same as it has been all along: that once vehicle owners are aware of the law and the possibility that they can be cited and/or towed if they do not routinely move their vehicles, that they will voluntarily comply with the law without us having to get further involved. Vehicle owners now appear to be complying with state law in that the vehicles are not abandoned and are drivable: they move at least once every 72 hours," Keith said.

But the enforcement — and the law — appear to have done little to reduce the game of musical chairs, which vehicle owners would prefer not to have to play, they told the Weekly in June. On Wednesday at around 12:30 p.m., there were 33 RVs along the one-mile stretch of road between Medical Foundation Drive and Serra Street. Nearly 50 recreational vehicles lined the street in June. At least one was an RV trailer with no front cab for driving it away.

Some of the vehicle dwellers said in June they understand the concerns about their presence, but they don't have anywhere else to go. Instead of more enforcement, they are asking that the city and other surrounding cities to come up with a regional plan that would give them a safe place to stay. The area's high cost of housing is the chief reason many said they are living in vehicles, and it is a hard existence, they added.

Residents attending the College Terrace Residents Association meeting on Wednesday said they hope the city will take the lead to find a solution for the vehicle dwellers.

"It is an eyesore, but I do feel some compassion," said Ann Balin, who supports leaving the RV dwellers alone.

The residents noted that El Camino has become a long-term parking destination for not only RVs but business trucks and other vehicles.

Resident Richard Stolee suggested that the city make all of El Camino two- to three-hour parking.

"We should provide a place for them, but El Camino should not be a campground," he said regarding the RVs.

The issue, everyone agreed, is so much bigger than El Camino Real, particularly in a city where the threshold for below-market-rate housing is 120 percent of the median in Santa Clara County, they noted.

"It seems like the solution is to address it (as) a regional problem. The question is how do you get that problem addressed regionally?" Stolee said.

City Manager James Keene has taken up the matter with officials in surrounding cities to try to find a regional solution, but none has yet to be identified. They have looked at programs such as one run in Santa Barbara that provides designated spaces in a parking lot at night, but the city would want to work with other surrounding municipalities to develop any program.

In terms of enforcement, "initial efforts took out some of the mass and scale of the issue. There seemed to be a little more room between vehicles. We will continue to assess and monitor the situation," Keith said.

Related content:

Behind the Headlines: cracking down on RVs

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Comments

63 people like this
Posted by Compassion
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2017 at 8:46 am

How are they harming anyone? Avert your eyes if old vehicles are so offensive to you. If they abide by the law, leave them alone. There but for the grace of God . . . .


36 people like this
Posted by Poor college terrace
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

Not surprised at all by the comments of college terrace residents. The typical attitude for that neighborhood. An eyesore? It feels distressing? Maybe the city needs to provide counseling for the poor CT residents.
Isn't el Camino a state road? Can palo alto make their own rules for parking?


103 people like this
Posted by No progress
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

I just recently emailed the city council about the lack of enforcement & progress on this issue. I would encourage others concerned about this to do the same.

@Compassion - they are not abiding by the law. The law states they must be moved every 72 hours and that is not the case. There are many of the RVs that have not moved in weeks or months (I go by this area almost daily). They are up on leveling jacks/blocks, have bump outs extended, have roofs & windows covered with tarps so they are not being moved in compliance with the law.

I would like to see the city take another crack at a vehicle dwelling ordinance since as mentioned in the article this problem is not limited to ECR but is spreading farther and wider in to neighborhoods. I am in midtown near Oregon and over the past couple months we have had 2 spring up in our neighborhood. I remember the prior vehicle dwelling ordinance was scratched because some thought its constitutionality would be challenged. What if the ordinance stipulated that vehicle dwelling was allowed on private property where the vehicle owner had approval or property rights but is not legal on public streets/lands. Surely the city/state has the right to designate approved usage of city/state owned lands & streets?

I understand the ask for compassion but I am not comfortable with this itinerant population being located across the street from one of our high schools. I also don't understand the mentality of insisting on living in an area you cannot afford and expecting others to bail you out and find a solution rather than moving to a more affordable area.


24 people like this
Posted by Thad
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2017 at 11:38 am

>>I also don't understand the mentality of insisting on living in an area you cannot afford and expecting others to bail you out and find a solution rather than moving to a more affordable area.

It costs money to move, money they obviously don't have. Will you give them the money they need to relocate a few hundred miles away?


60 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2017 at 11:47 am

MVPD has recently started towing RV's.

Web Link


65 people like this
Posted by No Progress
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2017 at 11:51 am

@Thad - I (as well as most other Palo Altans) pay tens of thousands of dollars every year in property, income, & sales taxes. So no, I will not give them the money to move a few hundred miles away and I shouldn't have to.The city/county/state should be able to use existing funds to mitigate this situation.

Having said that it would probably be more cost efficient for some level of government to provide relocation funds for the RV dwellers rather than try and sustain them living in the bay area long term.


66 people like this
Posted by The Majority
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2017 at 2:01 pm

[Portion removed.] Start towing them. This is an expensive city and we cannot house the entire nation.

[Portion removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by No Progress
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm

I am a bit amazed this morning to see that the normal 30+ RVs in this area this morning has been reduced to about 10. This seems to directly correlate with the occurrence of the Standord/UCLA game last night. So the question is how was the number of RVs reduced so quickly & dramatically? Did PAPD actually enforce, did Stanford take some action? Or did the RV dwellers move just for this event & will all be back by Monday AM?


87 people like this
Posted by Sunny
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

@compassion: Where do you think they pee? Do you want them in front of your house while their engine runs for over an hour, spewing exhaust while they charge up their generator? Is it really OK to park your vehicle anywhere you want and call it your home?

I feel for the people living in their cars and RVs. I wish there was a safe parking lot nearby where they could stay the night with restroom/shower facilities. Unfortunately having such a place attracts too many people and this area will become a haven for vehicle dwellers.

I think it's important to find out why people are sleeping in their cars/RVs on the streets. Are they employees who work in Palo Alto but can't afford to live here, and drive long distances to work? Are they Stanford employees as some have suggested? Are they unemployed? If they are employees who can't afford to live here, perhaps the local businesses where these people work should pitch in for a vacant lot where they can park and stay the night.

Parking on the streets is a safety issue both for those sleeping in vehicles on the street and for those in the neighborhood. I'm always a little frightened when out walking alone, especially at night, past any kind of van or larger vehicle, especially ones where the windows are covered. I remember back in the 90s when a local rapist used his white van to abduct women. I never forgot it and I'm sure there are many others who remember.

Palo Alto should do what Menlo Park does: ban overnight parking, except for those with permits, on all streets.

I'm an apartment dweller who can no longer afford to pay my rent in this area, so I'm not speaking as a property owner.


14 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 24, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I have noticed several RVs parked on Colorado near Greer Park. Are there other places in Palo Alto also?


50 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@No Progress - There is no parking along El Camino on football game days. Shows how easy it is to fix the problem with a simple parking rules.


14 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm

The are not breaking the law. They are just undocumented transients.

I guess open border policy stops at El Camino amd Stanford.


24 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Is the point of enforcement to force them out of town? Or to make sure they comply with health and safety laws (like keeping their vehicle in working order and not leaking raw sewage onto the street)? Seems to me that existing laws are about health and safety and should be enforced as such. If the city want to make that street a no parking zone, there is a clear and legal way to do that.


31 people like this
Posted by RV Homestead
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2017 at 5:17 pm

Convert Fry's into an RV lot.
We need it.
Buena Vista was a good start but only benefited the current residents.
We need a lot more trailer parking to support a diverse economy and workforce.


117 people like this
Posted by enforcement
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Perhaps PAPD needs to step up the enforcement, as they do on game days. Citing only 4 vehicles, and not towing any, doesn't seem sufficient IMO.

On a related note, San Diego is currently experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, believed to be spread from feces from homeless individuals. I am not comfortable with RV residents disposing of waste in city waste baskets and sewers. RVs need to be in RV parks with appropriate sanitation facilities.
Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2017 at 6:48 pm

[Post removed.]


35 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2017 at 7:08 pm

can someone tell me why taxpayers spent $40 million for Buena Vista mobile park but won't help the RV people find a place to park? What is the difference in the situation?


5 people like this
Posted by RV Homestead
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm

@common sense asks the right question.


54 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2017 at 8:31 pm

I saw an RV parked on a weekday AM in the parking lot near the rear of the PA Art Center. Saw indications it was dumping directly into a drain in the lot from the rear of the vehicle. This is not sanitary. I am sorry for those attempting to reside in RVs and other vehicles but....it isn't sanitary or feasible either for them or the cimmunity. Seek government and charitable help, please. Don't reside in a way that hurts you and the environment.


61 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2017 at 9:58 pm

Palo Alto Municipal Code 10.44.020 prohibits overnight parking for anything over 7 feet tall or 20 feet long along El Camino from Embarcadero to Stanford Ave. There's no 72 hour rule. Would be nice to get some response from code enforcement or the police on why they ignore 10.44.020.


9 people like this
Posted by ThrowTheFirstStone
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2017 at 11:32 pm

Lots of unfounded accusation of sewage dumping ... every time this comes up.
Long on blabber, short on evidence. This small issue shows how the people
of Palo Alto have changed. Maybe people used to have problems with homeless,
car campers or RVs, but they never used to make stuff up, i.e perjure themselves
in order to get their own selfish way. [Portion removed.]


39 people like this
Posted by Sunny
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 4:21 am

@ThrowTheFirstStone: what do vehicle dwellers do with their bodily waste, especially when they do not have access to a public toilet (there aren't many in Palo Alto)? Do they save it in their RV or car till they have a place to dump it? Where do they dump it? It's an important question that needs to be answered.

I think more RV parks are needed. Where to put them is the dilemma.


29 people like this
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2017 at 10:27 am

To ThrowTheFirstStone

The posting two before yours is a first person account, i.e. the person actually witnessed it. So when you talk about making stuff up, that only applies to your entire posting.


29 people like this
Posted by Anon2
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2017 at 10:51 am

Relevant text of the municipal code mentioned by "anonymous"

10.44.020 Standing or parking, two a.m. to six a.m.
(a) No person shall, between the hours of two a.m. and six a.m. of any day, unless authorized by a hardship permit issued pursuant to Section 10.44.021 or a construction or maintenance permit issued pursuant to Section 10.40.045, park upon streets or alleys located within a residential zone or public facility zone any of the following vehicles:
(1) Oversized vehicles;
(2) Trailers;
(3) Camper shells;
(4) Tow trucks as defined by California Vehicle Code Section 615;
(5) Special construction equipment as defined by California Vehicle Code Section 565.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no signs or markings are necessary to give effect to the restrictions and prohibitions contained in this section.
(Ord. 4558 § 5 (part), 1999)

Source: Web Link


50 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:24 am

They are breaking the law, it’s tgat simple.
City by-laws are there to protect you.
Please remember without that law people could park in front of your home for months, years maybe.


4 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:55 am

I think a reasonable compromise might be helpful, at least for a while.
Cite the non-roadworthy vans such as the one with the tarp pictured
in the article, and the detached trailers. That is where I would draw
the line. If someone has a roadworthy RV with lights, mirrors, etc, all
working, leave them alone.

All of a sudden in other articles I am seeing unsubstantiated and
unqualified claims of dumping sewage without any evidence or
witnesses, photographs or anything. They do the same thing with
unfortunates like car-campers or the homeless.

One other thing might be considered, and I am sure there will be
disagreement, but it confiscating or towing someone's vehicle is
going to make them homeless or destroy their lives I think some
consideration might be given to that.


9 people like this
Posted by God
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:56 am

You need to lower rent prices! Make more affordable homes....then remove the RVs
God


3 people like this
Posted by God
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:57 am

You need to lower rent prices!
Make more affordable homes....
then remove the RVs


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:01 pm

From Anon2 -
(a) No person shall, between the hours of two a.m. and six a.m. of any day, unless authorized by a hardship permit issued pursuant to Section 10.44.021 or a construction or maintenance permit issued pursuant to Section 10.40.045, park upon streets or alleys located within a residential zone or public facility zone any of the following vehicles:

That is interesting. What is a hardship permit? Could this be a safe and fair process, whereby RV dwellers can apply for a 3-6 month "hardship permit", once or twice renewable so they can have time to gather resources and find a permanent place to park or live?


11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:29 pm

I fail to see a problem here. It was foreseeable that drivers would move every 72 hours - duh. I think it is fine they are parked there. Stop the futile harassment of people abiding by the law.
Let's put code enforcers to work where it matters more to residents - saving retail for neighborhoods, keeping tech and real estate offices from taking over homes, and protecting our trees and groundwater, etc.


12 people like this
Posted by Rich
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:41 pm

No Progress- Many of the the RV's moved across the street on El Camino on Saturday to avoid being towed. The last time there was attention to the problem in July, many of the RV's moved down the street but had returned prior to this Saturday's Stanford Football Game. No new laws are required. 10.44.020 Standing or parking, two a.m. to six a.m. covers the issue and should be enforced along with all of our municipal codes.


33 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

Funny how people who live in affluent neighborhoods seem to feel that this is a non-issue, such as 'Compassion' of Crescent Park who says "Avert your eyes if old vehicles are so offensive to you" how about having the 'old vehicles' park in front of your house? You would be singing a different tune.


26 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:50 pm

The policy of musical RVs has failed. We need real solutions.
1. Reinstate the Prohibition on Human Habitation of Vehicles Ordinance No. 5206, passed after 2+ years of debate and analysis on how best to respond to citizen complaints. (City Council blundered massively by repealing the ban in November 2014 without any contravening analysis and despite the City Attorney’s conclusion that the law was consistent with constitutional requirements.)
2. Act on the suggestion of Joe Simitian and others to find an appropriate place that can be zoned for vehicle dwellers to live in a safe, humane, sanitary fashion.

The City’s tolerance of vehicular inhabitants throughout Palo Alto constitutes an ongoing nuisance, health & safety hazard, zoning violation, and degradation of residential neighborhoods incompatible with their intended character. All of us deserve better.


35 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I live in Mountain View and we have a lot of RV's parked along Crisanto, Latham and Shoreline Blvd. For the most part all is well and the residents are employed, sometimes with two jobs (nearly 100 percent). They just simply cannot afford to live here. This is their "alternative housing" waiting for the economy to shift enough for them to be able to afford a real, live roof over their heads.

An alternative? Perhaps The City of Mountain View and Palo Alto could find a large parking lot and designate it as a "semi-permanent" RV parking area. Put out some portable bathrooms. Provide police patrols. Place it near a bus stop giving the residents a chance to get to work easily. Contract with a sewage disposal company to provide pumping out of the RV's / trailers / motor-homes.

Before you get all huffy and say that they're not paying their fair share think about WHY they cannot afford housing? Could it possibly be . . . greed? Many people saw their rents skyrocket when landlords realized they could and . . . therefore are without housing.

I believe it would be WELL worth it for a city to provide safe parking for these folks. They are, in fact, member of our community.


7 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Re the statement in the article, "Some of the vehicle dwellers said in June they understand the concerns about their presence, but they don't have anywhere else to go." That statement would appear to be patently untrue. If vehicle dwellers are moving every 72 hours, they can move wherever they want to go. There is very little outside of their own preference on parking location keeping them in place. By definition, most vehicle dwellers are way more mobile than most residents living in traditional housing who are bearing the brunt of the extra density not accounted for in the zoning code or other regulations.


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

If the rv dwellers are all employed, than maybe our city councils shouldn't be in such a rush to add so many more jobs than housing. Right now we're at 4:1 commuters to residents and that type of imbalance keeps pushing housing prices higher and higher as more people compete for the same housing unit.


19 people like this
Posted by Sunny
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Crescent Park Anon wrote:

All of a sudden in other articles I am seeing unsubstantiated and
unqualified claims of dumping sewage without any evidence or
witnesses, photographs or anything. They do the same thing with
unfortunates like car-campers or the homeless.

Do you really think they're going to dump it during daylight hours in front of people? And where do you think the homeless go to the toilet in the middle of the night? Where are the free public restrooms that they can use in the middle of the night? Think about it. Tell me where they dump their waste if they live in an RV? Do they carry the container carrying their waste to a public restroom and dump it? How do they then clean out the container?

Asking these questions does not mean there is no compassion. Asking these questions will hopefully lead to solutions. It's better to have a healthy solution than a public health crisis.


6 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:11 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Shipping container housing: Web Link
Hawaii actually has a village for the low income people that do the work for the uber rich.

Even SFO has shipping container housing:
Web Link

Oakland has plenty of shipping containers to buy:

Web Link

but you never hear of it in local news media.

Shoreline Park has plenty of parking. Any empty warehousing can serve. Heck, Stanford has plenty of open space. Just stop building office space until you get parity for housing the working poor, like other cites and Nation States.

Yes, that same problem exists for other countries: Web Link

Like Buena Vista, you can have a " village " of affordable container housing.

Be creative: think inside the box!

P.S. that Airstream Mobile Home is not cheap mobile housing. I guess if you want to be homeless in Palo Alto, you must have the most expensive towed mobile home around...


52 people like this
Posted by Registered Nurse
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Are the Palo Alto city officials ever concern with the general public safety and Palo Alto residents? RV's are just too wide parked in El Camino and some parked on top of the curve. Same RV's are parked for months in the same spot. How long will the Palo Alto residents have to tolerate this? Residential areas are also affected. Dwellers are taking up our parking spaces in front of our house. Curve side smells like urine. Trash in the street that we have to clean up. Ridiculous! We elected you to do what is best for the community. To enforce laws, rules and regulations. To protect our community. This has been ongoing problem for years now!

1. It's a huge TRAFFIC ISSUE. Almost hit a biker because of small space between my moving car and the RV. Cars and buses tends to encroached in the middle lane with moving traffic to avoid hitting the RV. Do we need to wait for a fatal accident to do something about this?

2. HEALTH ISSUE : Curve side garbage receptacles are overfilled and trash everywhere attracting flies. Grass growing and filthy street under and surrounding long term parked RV.I actually called the city and they said it's the county's responsibility. Where are they relieving themselves and take showers?

3. Fire Hazard: Red gas containers obvious to the public are on the ground. Filled or unfilled with gas? Propane tanks are there as well.


17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

as usual, some people more equal then others. i had dilapidated RV parked in front of my house, denizens demanding water and Palo Alto police making deals with them to move tomorrow and tomorrow... they were finally towed but only because i knew somebody who knew somebody... Next time I will hire the track to tow offending vehicle in front of one councilmen/women house. hey, we know where you live.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Lets see: $7000 per converted container for an instant housing solution. $25,000 for a 2 container " art deco " house. As I said, a Hawaii village made of container conversions to house people that hold 2 jobs and still cannot afford housing, while serving the uber rich in Hawaii and the other islands.

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm

We all know that Palo Alto lacks the will to kick them out. They will continue to stack up. Get used to it.


24 people like this
Posted by Downtown Dweller
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

I understand the concerns about where the RV's will be able to go but find it hard to believe they're allowed to park across the street from a public HIGH SCHOOL. I would be very upset if they decided to park along my child's elementary or middle school for days, weeks and months like the ones on El Camino have been doing. Why can't the police enforce the muni code mentioned above?


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

If it starts a compassionate conversation and helps instill empathy, I think it is a VERY GOOD THING that people who are reduced to living in often beat-up vehicles are parked outside schools. [Portion removed.]


30 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2017 at 5:14 pm

I had a relative visiting last year from out-of-state. While driving north on El Camino Real, I pointed out the Buena Vista trailer park and mentioned how much of a debacle it has been. "Apparently, the city wants a trailer park to pretend like they love diversity," I quipped.

A few minutes later, we were driving near Stanford and Palo Alto High School (still on El Camino Real). My relative saw all of the RV's and commented that the city seems to ALREADY have a trailer park right there in front of Stanford and the high school.

That said: I am sympathetic to the desires of RV adventure seekers to find places to "boondock." I even watch a YouTube channel dedicated to one man's adventure across America in his own RV. However, the people who are parked on El Camino Real aren't staying for a night or two. Some of them haven't moved their vehicles in ages (given some of the clues, tarps, lifts, lack of tires, etc.).

The guy on the YouTube channel that I watch (entitled "Nomadic Fanatic") has episodes in certain towns and cities in which the driver mentions places where RV owners cannot "boondock" overnight. There are entire websites that map out roads, cities and towns where RV owners can park overnight for free. The point is that most cities and towns are NOT quite so accommodating.

Like I said, I don't have a problem with travelers looking for a place to stay for a day or two. However, the stretch on El Camino Real between the high school and university has become an RV park. The same is true for other spots -- like Latham St. next to Target.

In the case of Latham, it isn't just an eyesore. The large RV's actually block your view of traffic when trying to exit the Target. Moreover, there are "service vehicles" (such as waste removal vehicles) that service the RV's that are parked there too. Those vehicles block a lane and have made entering and exiting Target hazardous along that street.


3 people like this
Posted by Sunny
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Sunny
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 25, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Why was my post removed? I asked a legit question without accusations. Jeez.


14 people like this
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm

The more I see how a progressive, inclusive, <enter all "politically correct" adjectives here>--yet flaccid-- city gov't. handles issues like this, the more I see why Trump won, and may be re-elected.


10 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:48 am

What a bunch of hippocrates! If these vehicles were to appear in your neighborhood you'd be all screaming like a stuck pig. But for you its okay... As long as it's in someone else's backyard.


18 people like this
Posted by Trump Voter
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:36 am

[Portion removed.]
Let’s start with No Parking from Midnight to 7AM signs.


31 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 26, 2017 at 6:30 am

Apparently, the newly minted "No idling" law does not apply RVs.

With both an engine and a generator, these pollution spewing, C02 creating, mobile climate change factories are probably the equivalent of two dozen normal cars.

At least, if anybody bothered to check their smog test certificate status they would have to move once every two years.


2 people like this
Posted by One more reason
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:42 am

So where are @Winter and @Greenacres ?
We need Winter and the her advocacy to access the PACC's $$Milions$$ in funds that can only be used for this purpose - just like she did for Buena Vista tenants. We need GreenAcres and her team to tell us all how Measure D made it possible for a new RV site to be created - just like it did for Buena Vista. Thank You Maybell !


12 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:31 pm

PA Parent is a registered user.

Would the newspaper please do an in-depth article about the people who are living in these RVs? I hear so many theories (that they are Stanford employees, construction workers, Packard hospital patient families, working poor, people who want to live where they can't afford) and it would be helpful to learn the real story.

thank you.


12 people like this
Posted by The Majority
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2017 at 1:56 pm

@PA Parent: Palo Alto journalists have a YouTube about it, posted in June 2017. On El Camino, there are 48 RVs. Basically, they are people who want to live in PA but can't afford it. I think the excuse that they have always lived here is a poor excuse. Construction workers are not a reason, according to the video. Most people move to another city when they can no longer afford it. They are here because our city is allowing them to stay.

Web Link


40 people like this
Posted by Sad Situation
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

My young children and I regularly ride bikes past these RV's and vans. I have called the police a few times when I've come across dangerous situations. It can be hard to get a response when things happen on the sidewalk vs the El Camino. I witnessed a woman being beaten by a man while her son was watching and crying. When I called PA police they said they would come but that they would have to contact Stanford police because the battery was happening on Stanford property (aka the sidewalk.) The same thing happened when I saw a man walk out of his RV and urinate on the fence by Johnson field. There are gatorade bottles full of urine tossed in the bushes, I can not say they are from the RV's but it seems plausible. I've witnessed drinking and pot smoking- if it's illegal to do those things in your car why is it ok in an RV parked on the side of the road. They could drive away at any time under the influence. My children have been yelled at by RV dwellers for making too much noise on a weekend morning as they ride by. No one knows who these people are. They could be registered sex offenders, should they really be allowed to live so close to Paly and Stanford without being screened first? They need an RV parking area where they can be registered and empty their biohazards lawfully.


2 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

I am constantly reading about homeless outreach programs, there must be stats on the demographics of this population. To solve the problem you need to understand it, right? So what are all these social programs doing besides handing out clean needles and bags of groceries?

There are a finite number of RV's in PA/Mountain View (clearly NOT in Los Altos, God forbid). It would seem fairly easy to compile data such as.....
How many are gainfully employed?
How many occupants in each RV, family units, or adults sharing?
How many are unemployed?
How many are senior citizens (65+)
How many are mentally disabled, dealing with addiction, physically addicted?
How many minors live in these RV's, what age groups, do they go to school?
I am sure an expert would come up with a better list, but get my drift? Anecdotal stories about a teacher, a drug addict, a retired person living in a car are interesting but not really helpful in finding a solution.

We can say low income people should not live here if they cannot afford it, but who is going work at retail stores, fast food outlets, restaurants, car washes, gas stations, landcaping and cleaning companies, hotels? Who will do those jobs in Silicon Valley? The next crop of Stanford Grads?


13 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@MyOpinion - "who is going work at retail stores, fast food outlets, restaurants, car washes, gas stations, landcaping and cleaning companies, hotels?"

That mentality traps people in low incomes by allowing corporations pay below market salary. You are effectively subsidizing low corporate wages via sanctioned homelessness. When you can't find someone to the job, the way to fix it is increasing the amount you are willing to pay. More pay and then you have more and better housing options.


3 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:07 pm

Seriously this is so typically 'Shallow Alto"

Show me the statistics showing a spike in crime? Or harm to the community. The VAST majority of these people spent their days making our coffee, busing our tables, or doing the jobs none of the dilettante's that occupy our fair city can't be bothered with.


14 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:18 pm

@cvvhrn....really? where did you get this STATISTIC. Where did you get this supposed FACT? Because walking past these RVs I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that the majority are not people bussing tables or serving food in any restaurant around here. Gua-ran-tee.

These are people hooking on for a free ride, people who make a CHOICE to live outside the norms of our society, against our rules and expected behaviors. MVPD recently towed several after multiple attempts to correct sewage issues and also noticing drugs being sold.

Poor homeless displacement? I think not. These RVs are unsightly, they are dangerous, they need to GO.


15 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2017 at 8:26 pm

And by the way, what is with this incessant desire to keep people in RV's? Where's the compassion in that? Why do you want to encourage people to live in sub-standard living situations? It's a seriously misguided ideology that is leading to greater and bigger issues. San Diego is facing alarming outbreaks of hepatitis in their homeless population. This is going to lead to greater issues in the general population.

We need to buck up and enforce our laws that keep our general citizens safe. We need to provide for the truly homeless and those in need. But to take the easy route and just say "these poor people should be able to stay wherever they want?"

No.


9 people like this
Posted by Cc
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Can we convert that lane into a much-needed protected bicycle lane?? Why can't we feel safe riding our bicycles on El Camino.


Like this comment
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:07 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

@john_alderman - I have no idea what your comment means, dumb it down for me, what exactly are you proposing, that everone should make 100K per year?


7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:29 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ MyOpinion - If employers can't hire people, they'll raise wages. If you "help" employers, they won't have to raise wages. I'm proposing that your idea we need to allow RV camping so employers can get cheap labor is counter productive, and keeps wages artificially low. That said, I agree with Really?, there is no evidence that there are locally employed people in these RVs.


22 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:21 am

The 40 million dollars used for the firetrap Buena Vista trailer park is a complete waste of money. It could have been used to buy a piece of land and build an apartment building. There are many people on the Palo Alto list of residents needing low income housing. It is outrageous that the broken down firetrap remains open and it current residents stay there.
For the armies of RVs living on El Camino just tow them all and assess daily fees for vehicle storage. It has been decades of this and it needs to stop now.


7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:17 am

You don't need a "protected bike lane". There is a beautiful bike/walking path on the other side of the fence. It runs from Galvez/Embarcadero all the way to Stanford Ave.


7 people like this
Posted by Housing Correction
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

The problem is not the RVs and RV dwellers.
The problem is real estate speculation by Palo Alto residents who've wagered too much on the value of their residences. RV dwellers made the rational income to housing expense budgetary allocation. Palo Alto residents did not. Imprudent real estate speculation breeds fear of a price correction. Fear begets greed and and greed leads to hoarding. Palo Alto doesn't belong to homeowners because they spent too much to put a roof over their heads. Palo Alto belongs to everyone.


1 person likes this
Posted by Clarification
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 1:50 pm

The municipal code quoted for a prohibition on parking between 2am and 6am is not relevant as the area in question is not a residential or public facilities zone.


4 people like this
Posted by Thanks for playing...
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Clarification said "The municipal code quoted for a prohibition on parking between 2am and 6am is not relevant as the area in question is not a residential or public facilities zone."


The code states:

(5) "Public facility zone" means all lands located within a PF zone; where one side of a street is located within a public facility zone, then the portion of the opposite side of the street directly across from the public facility zone shall also be included in the restrictions pertaining to a public facility zone.

Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and other regions are all "Public Facilities". Check out the zoning maps (click on maps 5 and 8) Some of the RV's are parked directly across from these PF zones and are therefore covered.

Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by long time resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2017 at 5:46 pm

to "how are they harming anyone"... have you TRIED to drive down El Camino?
One week.. one of the RV's had "expanded" out INTO El Camino. I believe it's where the head for the bed goes... but any truck or SUV could easily drive by and swipe by and hit that "expanded out and extended out" portion over hanging into El Camino into the busy street lane. It was rather outrageous.

El Camino is a busy street.. not a place for long term resident parking.

I'm wondering why the RVs are not camping out along Castro Ave in Mountain View? Or how about Santana Row in San Jose? There is Facebook and Google with their HUGE parking lots. Perhaps it's time they opened up their parking lots in the evenings/nights for these people without homes.


7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:10 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ long time resident - It is worse in MV than Palo Alto. We should take it as a warning and do something before it gets that bad. In MV there are RV clusters around California and Crisanto, with some along Shoreline near downtown.


8 people like this
Posted by Scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Lets open up a KOA on the Stanford campus...problem solved.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2017 at 2:44 pm

There was a fire in an RV on Leghorn yesterday (right beside San Antonio and the Hengehold truck rental place).

It would be interesting to know more about this. MVPD tweeted about it, but there is nothing in Mountain View Voice. I wonder if this RV was one of the problem RVs and if the fire was caused by anything worrisome.


6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2017 at 3:38 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Resident - MVPD has also starting towing RVs that are leaking sewage along Crisanto. The RV that caught fire on Leghorn has been there for a long time, you can see it on Google maps street view. It is parked in the front lot of a building, but there are several RVs parked on the street in the area.

Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2017 at 3:42 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Speaking of the MV RV problem, the police arrested a transient/RV dweller at Cuesta Park today for dealing heroin.

"A transient woman residing in an RV at Cuesta Park was arrested last week on suspicion of trying to sell heroin, according to police.

Officers first met with the woman on Wednesday, Sept. 20, after noticing that her RV had expired registration tabs, according to police spokeswoman Katie Nelson. After talking with the woman, officers were given permission to go into her RV, where they found more than 20 syringes loaded with heroin, Nelson said.

Officers also found methamphetamine in the RV, as well as a samurai sword."


Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by eliminate ECR parking?
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm

According to today's Daily Post, RWC is considering eliminating parking along ECR to enlarge the roads and provide bike lanes. This is something Palo Alto officials may also want to consider.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2017 at 7:40 pm

There already is a bike path that runs from the Stanford Shopping Center all the way to Stanford Ave. which is essentially the full length of the RV parking on ECR.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Oct 2, 2017 at 9:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I note on the Embarcadero in San Francisco signs "No Parking 12 AM to 6 AM Daily - Street Cleaning"

I doubt they clean the street every day but that signage prevents round the clock parking.


3 people like this
Posted by Harry Merkin
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm

"It seems like the solution is to address it (as) a regional problem. The question is how do you get that problem addressed regionally?" Stolee said.

Think regionally, act locally. Pass a Living Wages law requiring employers to pay every employee a wage that enables them to live in the town where they work, and enforce it vigorously. Problem solved.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

I am reading Dan Brown's book "Origin" right now and "Compassion" is not all it is cracked up to be. It allows by guilt the sidestepping of laws and rules which start out with a low threshold and then spin out of control. So I think we are now at the "out-of-control" mode here as we have allowed a 'compassion" concession to common sense and now can't contain it. I keep wondering why the RV people do not move to the bayside east of 101 so they are out of the way. The city could put some bathrooms in that area on the street at the base of San Antonio Road. It would be quiet at night for them with exception to Shoreline Park activities which in that case would be a plus. So why do they find that option not of interest? The fact that they want to be next to the high school and SU is highly problematic and borders on legal negligence. Is this a drug / pot selling location?
Sorry time to resolve and get them off that street and moved to a location east of 101 that does not hamper or interfere with the city laws and common sense regarding our students. And there is a grammar school on SU campus so this is not excusable. We can take compassion and turn it in a different direction away from under aged people who use those fields for sports activity.


8 people like this
Posted by Tow signs but no towing?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2017 at 11:29 am

Tow signs but no towing? is a registered user.

There are signs on El Camino that cars will be towed on the day of Stanford games, most of the RV's and cars moved, but a few are still there including a stand-alone camper. Why weren't they towed? Does that mean I can park there for free and go to the game instead of paying for parking at Paly?


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm

The more I think about this the worse it gets. Back in the day of Ford Aerospace and Loral on Fabian we had employees who lived in their motorhomes during the week on the property and left on the weekends for their real homes - usually in the valley. That worked pretty good. They could shower at work. No one was concerned about that - it worked. So if there are people now who have jobs then they should be on their employer's property during the week and off the street. If SU contractors then get them off the street. Is SU complicit in allowing them to park on ECR and directing them to do that? Then shame on SU. So who are the rest of the people who feel entitled to their spot specifically at SU and PAHS? ECR is a long street with a lot of available parking going up to the old auto places in MP. Why not on those properties? The fact that they are at PAHS and SU specifically is a total legal concern. It is like they are high jacking the rights of the other people who want to use those spaces while participating in sports activities that are organized for that location. This is so totally wrong. Games are scheduled for all ages of people in that area and the parking should go to them since they are using that property.


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 15, 2017 at 3:35 pm

I am wondering if the churches in PA are complicit in directing people to park on ECR. People like "Compassion" may have a vested interest in this whole situation if they are part of a group directing this type of situation. We keep running into situations in which people doing strange stuff have more rights than the tax paying people who live in the community. What is even worse is that this type of pressure is looking for a monetary resolution by PA in some form or another. That is a form of social blackmail. If any church is sponsoring this activity or if SU is complicit is recommending it then shame on SU for all of the open land they have.
There is a bottom line here - no RV's parked in school specific locations - period. There ought to be some regulation out there to cover the proximity to schools including those that are on SU campus. I recognize that RV's are popular for parties on game days that are parked on SU parking lots.


4 people like this
Posted by It’s Hypocrisy
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2017 at 11:08 pm

@resident: Churches preach compassion but a few years ago when the city asked them to allow the vehicle dwellers to use their parking lots and facilities, only one church in town offered. Otherwise, there was silence.

People are compassionate if it doesn’t directly affect them. All these people who preach compassion don’t invite the homeless into their houses.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
23 hours ago

I drove up to RWC on ECR Sunday to check out the RV parking. From Palo Alto going north we appear to be the only city with RV's on ECR. Some have moved a tad south on ECR to meet some requirement to move the vehicle near Oregon Expressway or across the street near the PAHS area. There are some that have a generator in back - how permanent can that be? And how about that wreck across from Town and Country Village? That brings up a major concern here is that if you are in a RV Park you have signed in with a driver's license and credit card which puts your location on record. You are now traceable. All of these people on ECR are not traceable and have no known identity. They are not on record as to being in this area. People here are asking who they are and no one knows. So why is that acceptable to anyone? We have a right to know who is camping out in our city in proximity of children.
My next concern is where are they towed to? Is that the hang up here? We really need to hear from the PA Police Department if they have control of this area and who is there - or SU police if that is their territory. Are they here specific to this location because there is a gap in the authority for that location? Does SU have a police force? We have an obvious hole in the system here as to who is in charge.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
12 hours ago

So Sue Dremann - what is the progress on this issue? It is not acceptable as is and the police are stalling on enforcing what ever rules are in place at this time.
Question - where are RV's towed to?
1. Redwood City has blocked off the movie theatre east of 101 near the new Sheriff's station. That is a good space for these RV's.
2. Are the RV owners forcing a monetary solution on our part - like establishing a parking area away from the schools? That means they are organized to push a result.
They appear to be forcing a situation in which we allocate land for them.
3. The fact that they are where they are says that someone in the city has approved their presence at this location. That is contradictory to the scheduling of many sports-teams who are using the sports fields on both sides of ECR and need parking for their cars. Time to change the parking signs and limit parking.
4. I understand the compassion issue but there is a bigger issue which is the safety issue which is more compelling - we do not know who these people are or why they are there - a lot of stories. They do have choices - we are not the only game in town unless we make ourselves the only game in town.






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