Banning RVs near San Jose schools could be just the tip of the iceberg

When San Jose announced plans last month to ban RV dwellings near schools, that was just the beginning of potentially more laws to reign in the hundreds of vehicles parked along the city’s roadways — a growing problem that has enraged residents and led to a slew of public safety concerns.

San Jose officials are exploring policies that include banning RVs from certain streets and sanctioning others who park on designated roads, increasing enforcement for street parking time limits and a permit system attached with a code of conduct, such as agreements that would ensure personal items are kept off the sidewalk.

The restrictions on vehicles near schools — combined with the possibility of new enforcement laws — marks a new chapter in San Jose’s stance towards homelessness and falls in line with Mayor Matt Mahan’s tougher approach to combatting one of the Bay Area’s most intractable problems. Facing one of America’s most acute affordable housing crises, homeless residents across California have resorted to living in RVs that sometimes overlap with tent encampments.

But the stricter policies could also land San Jose in legal hot water: Mountain View, Pacifica and other California cities have all faced lawsuits after trying to implement similar rules.

Within 90 days, San Jose councilmembers will decide what policies to move ahead with. Efforts also are underway to figure out how to streamline the construction of large-scale safe parking as San Jose plans to open its second site next year in the Berryessa neighborhood with enough room for 85 vehicles — upping the city’s capacity to roughly 130 spots — but still well below the estimated 770 occupied RVs scattered across the city. Officials said they’re trying to get an approved list of construction vendors who can get the sites up and running quickly — rather than having to conduct individual city council sessions on each new safe parking project.

“While I don’t want to unduly burden those who are living in vehicles, we have far too many cases of vehicles, seemingly permanently encamped in the same place, blocking the public right of way,” said Mahan, who is proposing the new rules along with Councilmembers Sergio Jimenez, David Cohen and Bien Doan. “We’re getting a lot of frustration and complaints from residents and businesses dealing with trash, noise, crime, etcetera.”

In August, Mahan proposed banning RVs from parking within 150 feet of K-12 schools, daycares and preschools — the first time he began considering restrictions on where San Jose’s homeless residents can and can’t reside. The rule — which will come before the city council for a vote by the end of the year — was proposed after a cohort of east San Jose students claimed the dozens of RVs parked near their high school along Education Park Drive were the reason for a spate of break-ins and needles being left on lunch tables.

The mayor has a more heavy-handed approach to dealing with homelessness compared to his predecessor Sam Liccardo. San Jose’s key homelessness strategy under Mahan includes the construction of emergency interim housing …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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