Stephen Ellison

Mountain View's RV Row Stirs Debate Over Housing, Homeless

A line of RVs along a Mountain View street has become an issue for some residents and city leaders, and now the city is scrambling for a solution.

The RVs parked along a street where parking restrictions are lenient serve as long-term or even permanent residences for families who have been priced out of the expensive Bay Area housing market.

Now the city is asking the RV residents to fill out a survey about who they are and what they need.

"Just because you live in an RV doesn't mean you're poor," Justin Harper said. "It just means you don't want to pay that much."

The RVs are parked on a side street next to the Caltrain tracks. There are at least 40 of them occupied mostly by families but also some single tech workers.

Most of them can't afford the high rents in the South Bay and on the Peninsula.

RV resident Oscar Miguel said the rent skyrocketed at his family's home so he bought an RV as emergency housing.

"Before, I rented an apartment, but it's too expensive," Miguel said.

Mountain View Mayor Pat Showalter said people living in vehicles is a problem that needs to be addressed, and the city is uncertain exactly how to do so. It is starting by taking the survey to see how it can help.

"We have more homeless, and some of those homeless are living in RVs, so we hear about this from all sorts of angles," Showalter said. "We had a survey done of people that live in vehicles. Who are these people, and what do they need?"

Resident James Boyd lives across the street from RV Row.

"I think most of these people work every day," he said. "They just don't make enough money to survive."

The survey had been on the city website for several weeks, and the link was removed Monday. City staff will take the more than 1,000 responses they received and present the findings to the City Council at its Oct. 4 meeting.

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