STORY BY CEDRIC CHAN AND CARLY HELTZEL, PHOTO BY CARLY HELTZEL
In the early hours of this morning, the Mountain View City Council unanimously approved the staff recommendation for the implementation and budget of Measure C, following hours of discussion and contentious public comment.
The measure, approved by voters this November, will prohibit the parking of oversized vehicles — namely, recreational vehicles (RVs) — on “narrow streets,” defined as those that are 40 feet wide or less. The ordinance is set to go into effect in 10 days on Saturday, December 19.
The resolution calls for the manufacture and installation of approximately 2,600 street signs, with a projected cost of $980,000.
Some council members lauded the City’s various housing programs and maintained that Measure C will help the homeless get back on their feet.
“I believe that our city is compassionate,” Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga said. “I believe that our City Council is compassionate. We are not kicking people out of Mountain View — we are providing them places to go.”
In public comment, however, the resolution faced harsh criticism for its price and effect on mobile home residents. Resident Eva Tang said that spending time and money to implement the signs “is just so fiscally and environmentally irresponsible” of the City.
“I hate everything about this,” she said. “I hate that my neighbors like to criminalize poverty. If we are a city with any sort of compassion, please consider delaying this implementation.”
Several others reiterated this sentiment, underlining the detrimental effects this measure could have on residents living in RVs; resident Steve Chessin expressed his disappointment with the City, imploring the Council to not “be Ebenezer Scrooges and kick the Bob Cratchits out of Mountain View.”
Several members of the public also reprobated the Council’s timeline, saying that it is not in the best interests of the city “to be fast-tracking the implementation of Measure C.”
“In the midst of a pandemic, there’s no reason for us to be knocking on peoples doors and telling them they’re not welcome in our wealthy town,” resident Scott Haiden said. “Let’s take human rights seriously and treat people with dignity for once.”
The Mountain View Police Department, however, said that it hoped to encourage residents to follow the measure through “voluntary cooperation,” as it has in enforcing pandemic restrictions. Sgt. Scott Nelson said that since COVID-19 began, MVPD has not towed any oversized vehicles and he expects this enforcement to continue.
“We’ve been able to work with residents and find solutions to some of the complaints that have come in,” he said. “I anticipate the same type of education, outreach and voluntary compliance when we do start enforcing the ordinance.”
Once street signs have been installed, complaint-driven enforcement will be used to uphold the measure, he added. In accordance with city laws, there must be visible signs on the over 150 specified street segments for any action to be taken.
However, the number of signs required also received a great deal of disapproval during public comment.
“There’s nothing more attractive than signposts with giant letters on them,” resident Alexander Brown said sarcastically. “Because who needs trees? At some point the sign density will be great enough to support its own ecosystem. Wow — very priorities, many wisdom, so leadership, much proud.”
Restrictions on oversized vehicle parking on small streets were originally drafted in September of 2019, but were struck down because of a petition spearheaded by the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition. Instead, they were moved onto the November 2020 ballot as Measure C, where voters passed the measure with 56.6 percent.
“This is an issue that has been going on for many years, and not to disparage, but if earlier councils had acted more quickly, we probably wouldn’t have an issue as large as we do now,” Abe-Koga said. “I would also call upon our neighboring cities to do the same. We do our part — we do more than our part — but we need other cities to participate.”
Council Members John McAlister, Lucas Ramirez and Chris Clark all said that they are not in favor of Measure C, despite the unanimous vote, in a rare moment of alignment between the Council and the public. They maintained, however, that the Council has an obligation to administer measures voted on by the people, regardless of personal opinion.
“When people vote, they expect — they demand — that we implement the law that they voted for,” Council Member John McAlister said. “And if you disagree or agree with it, that’s part of democracy: the majority rules.”
Allison Huang contributed to this report.