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Young Menlo Park couple could face fines of $500 per day for living in driveway RV

Original post made on Nov 26, 2019

Arlena Bain and Alex Mulholland have lived quietly for months in an RV parked in the driveway of a Menlo Park home. But come Dec. 3, their housing situation will cease to be an option.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9:28 AM

Comments (24)

17 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2019 at 11:03 am

So come on down to Mountain View. Tell your friends, We want as many RVs as possible on our streets


14 people like this
Posted by OTP
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 26, 2019 at 11:24 am

The city is in the right. This is a safety issue first and foremost and the rules need to be enforced without prejudice.


9 people like this
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm

concerned citizen is a registered user.

seems like a reasonable approach to help people have housing. My neigbhour had an RV in her driveway with a person living in it for years, and I allowed the homeless to live in my house for years (That was in Berkeley)


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Meanwhile in Palo Alto we have RVs parked on roads without any hookups and are not roadworthy even to move! We also have unroadworthy vehicles of all types, old cars, trucks, trailers, etc. parked on people's driveways while they park on the street and sometimes these have been unmoved for years!

Double standards do exist.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2019 at 12:34 pm

This movie tells the true story of a lady living in a van on someone's driveway for years in London. It starts Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey. It is a very thought provoking movie as well as a good movie to watch. Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm

concerned citizen is a registered user.

I know many physicians who slept in trucks and vans in SF as they lived far from work. As long people have access to toilets and showers, what is the problem? Most of us in Palo Alto can certainly share our streets and vans with folks clever enough to come up with this solution.


12 people like this
Posted by Cafehunk
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2019 at 1:07 pm

If single family zoned properties can't have more than one car parked, this is clearly very selectively enforced, and I'd expect many of the other citations are as well.



21 people like this
Posted by flop houses?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2019 at 1:10 pm

There is a clear need for "flop houses" in Palo Alto/Menlo Park/MV/EPA to accommodate the low-wage workers drawn to the $15/hr minimum wage jobs, many of whom (unlike the couple profiled in the article) have homes in the central valley to which they return on week-ends. I'm surprised enterprising Millenials haven't created these. Perhaps the moneyed Millenials find it easier given the lax enforcement to simply purchase used RVs and dump them along our streets as "rentals" for the low-wage workers


21 people like this
Posted by Old Palo,Alto
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 26, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Old Palo,Alto is a registered user.

Why does the home owner not allow them to live in the house, or add a room?


14 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2019 at 2:12 pm

It sounds to me like Wahlburgers needs to pay its employees more. If it did, then, they wouldn't have to live in an illegally parked RV.


14 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 26, 2019 at 3:12 pm

We need a "maximum wage" law. The inverse of a minimum wage. Restrict employees from making more than a certain hourly maximum. This will reduce overcrowding and drive down housing costs as well as reducing traffic.


8 people like this
Posted by ferdinanc
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 26, 2019 at 4:23 pm

concerned citizen: Maybe you don't have RVs parked hear your home,or the situation is more conducive to it?

There are some locations that are fine for on-street RVs, but others not so good. Near Barron Park there is a long queue of RVs and here are some daily problems I've noticed/experienced:

1. Sometimes entryway steps protrude onto the sidewalk, a potential tripping hazard for people passing during the evening (or not paying attention in daylight).
2. Periodically, lot's of garbage--some of it bagged and laying outside the RV, some of it simply loose on the ground or piled up at the nearby bus stop.
3. Rarely (but still) generators spewing much exhaust into the sidewalk zone.
4. Sometimes parked up on curbs, narrowing the sidewalk.
5. RVs parked just before or after an entrance/exit, it is quite difficult to see when trying to get back onto el Camino. And the corrolary, cars looking to turn off of el Camino into a restaurant/business cannot see if pedestrians are on the sidewalk,or worse yet if a kid is biking on the sidewalk because the streets are not so safe.
6. With the extra width of an RV on el Camino, it forces bikes out into traffic more than when they are not there, or promotes more riding on sidewalks.

It would be great if we could find some other spaces to create new parks, where it is more appropriate and safer.


13 people like this
Posted by Sandra
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2019 at 4:38 pm

The times have changed. Many people of all ages are not able to find or afford normal housing in the Bay Area. It seems that we all must modify our attitudes toward folks who live in RV's and other kinds of temporary shelters. It is not one size fits all. It seems that these people have a situation where they are of assistance to the elderly lady in who's driveway they live. They are working full time and they are involved with rescuing cats-a good thing. Unless there is something undisclosed in this story, it seems that an exception should be made for them.


16 people like this
Posted by merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 26, 2019 at 7:18 pm

merry is a registered user.

Why can’t they park in driveway? They are not on street?
It’s a sympathetic story.


4 people like this
Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 26, 2019 at 8:28 pm

I can see both sides of the story.

Seems they should get on a list for low income housing. I wonder how much that is monitored inspected so the truly in need are in getting the housing.


8 people like this
Posted by Jason Throntveit
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 26, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Living in a van on a driveway is not a clever solution. It’s annoying to neighbors and it amounts to property tax evasion. Get an apartment or get a house and pay property taxes like everyone else.

Why don’t they just move into the house?


9 people like this
Posted by enforcement
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2019 at 12:48 am

Menlo Park, unlike the surrounding cities (Palo Alto, Mountain View, and EPA) does not allow overnight parking of non-residents, and they enforce this rule. Since the rule doesn't explicitly discriminate against RV/van dwellers, this is a legal approach to banning overnight RV/van parking on city streets. As a consequence, some sympathetic individuals, like the ones profiled in the article, will be adversely impacted. On the other hand, the surrounding communities end up dealing with the myriad adverse consequences of RV/van dwellers such as sanitation and public health concerns, as well as obstructed sidewalks. My guess is that this article was published as a warning to PA, MV and EPA officials considering parking bans similar to those of MP.


9 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 27, 2019 at 5:48 am

The relevant part of the Menlo Park City Code (8.20.020 Front and side yard storage) is under chapter 8 "Peace, Safety & Morals"

Hard to see how storing a boat, an RV or pars of it in a private yard... interferes with Peace or Safety.

Menlo Park has a dubious sense of morality if it uses Morals as the basis for that ordinance (and for displacing these grand children).


7 people like this
Posted by R. Ortiz
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 27, 2019 at 6:42 am

> Why can’t they park in driveway? They are not on street? It’s a sympathetic story.

^^^ Since they have the approval of the homeowner & are parked on private property (driveway) there is no reason for some meddling neighbor to file a petty complaint.

>> Living in a van on a driveway is not a clever solution. It’s annoying to neighbors and it amounts to property tax evasion. Get an apartment or get a house and pay property taxes like everyone else.

Why don’t they just move into the house?

^^^ Easier said than done. Minimum wage earnings is a deterrent to affordable SF bay area housing & the homeowner may already have occupants in the house.

As far as property tax evasion, there are corporate & commercial interests who are also guilty of such evasive measures...some refer to it as Proposition 13.

The Menlo Park Peace/Safety/Morals code is laughable...like something out of the Victorian 19th century.

BTW, I have an RV parked in my driveway. Though I am the registered owner, I have considered renting it out as a 'mobile granny unit'.

The 'property taxes' will be figured into the rent & I don't give a rat's ass what the neighbors think as some of them have pretty crappy-looking front yards which could also be considered an eyesore.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2019 at 8:13 am

I remember as children we had sleepovers in a neighbor's RV parked in their driveway. Different siblings took it in turns to have different friends there for sleepovers. I also remember sleepovers in our tent in our backyard with friends. Back in the day, this was considered fun and safe. Great memories.


4 people like this
Posted by Barroness
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 27, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Mark Wahlberg is worth between $250-300 million. I hope he enjoys his restaurant profits.


9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 1, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Seems like the least we can do in this housing crunch era is to
try to make it easier on people who need housing.

Unless someone actually hurts someone else and there are
damages, I think this is way wrong.

The people who make huge amounts of money off rents are
just loving this and making moves to make it even worse.
That is not what capitalism is, or the free market is supposed
to be all about.

I love how the same people who talk about how capitalism
is the system that brings the most benefits to the most people
through the free market, but are the first to break the free
market, or to slow down it down so much that it doesn't work.

This is a full breakdown of society that people have to live
like this, and it is like Les Miserables ... make life so miserable
that people have to break the law to survive, and then nail
them for it for the rest of their lives.

And we are all still dragging our feet doing nothing because
our system is so rigid and inhuman that it cannot adapt or
respond to failures.


7 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2019 at 7:29 pm

They're clearly in violation of code. They need to move on. If they're both making $15 an hr., find a cheap apartment, a cheap mobile home park, or a share rental situation. Or move out of state, which is more affordable. If they want to live nicely, they need to make more money. Nice things aren't cheap and cheap things aren't nice. This isn't breaking news.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2019 at 9:12 am

Posted by Crescent Park Anon., a resident of Crescent Park

>> Seems like the least we can do in this housing crunch era is to try to make it easier on people who need housing.

Sure, but, the problem is that you, and others, are implicitly accepting the argument that RVs are "special". They aren't. They are a very poor form of urban housing.


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