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City tows unmoved RVs, trailer on El Camino Real

El Camino Real campers who got multiple notices were targeted on Wednesday

Following through on the city's promise that it would crack down on an encampment of RVs and vans lining up on multiple blocks along El Camino Real, Palo Alto police and code-enforcement officers had two RVs and a trailer towed on Wednesday morning.

The vehicle owners had been formally warned on multiple occasions since the beginning of summer, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith said on behalf of the Police Department. The vehicles had between five and 10 citations each in addition to the multiple warnings, she said.

Two of the vehicles also had expired registrations in excess of six months and were towable on that issue alone. The vehicles were in fairly poor condition, had debris around them and hadn't moved in some time, she said.

Palo Alto residents began noticing the growing number of RVs and vans parked along the west side of El Camino Real from Medical Foundation Way to Stanford Avenue about a year ago, a number that reached nearly 50 in recent months. The vehicle dwellers, who include workers, retirees and those with disabilities who can no longer afford to live in permanent homes in the area, were largely left alone by police if they stayed on the west side, which is along open space owned by Stanford University. But by June, some nearby residents began to complain that the vans and RVs were unsightly and violated the city's 72-hour parking ordinance.

City officials brought in Santa Clara County social services staff to help some of the RV dwellers find more permanent housing and other resources. Some people living in cars and RVs said they cannot afford housing and work in the city, and they would rather live in their vehicles rather than commute for two or three hours each way from elsewhere.

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In September, the vehicles remained largely unmoved or had left and then returned. Police said they were about to begin towing after having issued multiple citations and warnings to those who had not moved.

Drivers can legally return to their original spot if they have tripped their odometers by at least a half-mile to comply with the ordinance, police said.

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Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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City tows unmoved RVs, trailer on El Camino Real

El Camino Real campers who got multiple notices were targeted on Wednesday

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 4:18 pm

Following through on the city's promise that it would crack down on an encampment of RVs and vans lining up on multiple blocks along El Camino Real, Palo Alto police and code-enforcement officers had two RVs and a trailer towed on Wednesday morning.

The vehicle owners had been formally warned on multiple occasions since the beginning of summer, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith said on behalf of the Police Department. The vehicles had between five and 10 citations each in addition to the multiple warnings, she said.

Two of the vehicles also had expired registrations in excess of six months and were towable on that issue alone. The vehicles were in fairly poor condition, had debris around them and hadn't moved in some time, she said.

Palo Alto residents began noticing the growing number of RVs and vans parked along the west side of El Camino Real from Medical Foundation Way to Stanford Avenue about a year ago, a number that reached nearly 50 in recent months. The vehicle dwellers, who include workers, retirees and those with disabilities who can no longer afford to live in permanent homes in the area, were largely left alone by police if they stayed on the west side, which is along open space owned by Stanford University. But by June, some nearby residents began to complain that the vans and RVs were unsightly and violated the city's 72-hour parking ordinance.

City officials brought in Santa Clara County social services staff to help some of the RV dwellers find more permanent housing and other resources. Some people living in cars and RVs said they cannot afford housing and work in the city, and they would rather live in their vehicles rather than commute for two or three hours each way from elsewhere.

In September, the vehicles remained largely unmoved or had left and then returned. Police said they were about to begin towing after having issued multiple citations and warnings to those who had not moved.

Drivers can legally return to their original spot if they have tripped their odometers by at least a half-mile to comply with the ordinance, police said.

Comments

About Time!
Palo Verde
on Oct 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm
About Time!, Palo Verde
on Oct 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

YEAH!

Now tow the ones permanently parked/abandoned on Commercial/Transit/Industrial.


resident
Midtown
on Oct 25, 2017 at 5:23 pm
resident, Midtown
on Oct 25, 2017 at 5:23 pm

What percentage of the people living in these RVs work or attend classes at Stanford?


Robert
another community
on Oct 25, 2017 at 6:07 pm
Robert, another community
on Oct 25, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Interstingly enough, Santa Rosa is now allowing people to live in RVs as a way of dealing with their housing shortage.


Gus L.
Barron Park
on Oct 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm
Gus L., Barron Park
on Oct 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Thank You, Thank You.
Now Please remove them from Park Blvd, El Camino by Palo Alto Square and Acacia street.
Some of the RV's and trailers (at least 5 of them) are all owned by one person.
Some dump holding tanks on the road running down the gutter..


Thank you
College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:04 pm
Thank you, College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:04 pm

The problem of RVs along ECR was quite noticeable this morning. The existing laws really needed to be enforced to have any impact. Alternatively overnight parking could simply be banned in Palo Alto as it is in neighboring Menlo Park.


good start
College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm
good start, College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm

This is a good start but IMO PAPD needs to act in a more timely way. Waiting 6 months or so until broken-down RVs have 5-10 notices to move is way too long. I'd suggest ticketing them after the 1st notice is ignored.


Homeless
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:16 pm
Homeless, Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:16 pm

I was not homeless until the cops stole my motorhome.


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:56 pm
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 25, 2017 at 8:56 pm
how many?
Charleston Meadows
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:34 pm
how many?, Charleston Meadows
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:34 pm

How many broken-down campers and trailers altogether were towed from ECR today? Were others ticketed? The article had quite a bit of background info but not very much info on what happened today.


Robert
another community
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm
Robert, another community
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm
About time
Midtown
on Oct 25, 2017 at 10:24 pm
About time, Midtown
on Oct 25, 2017 at 10:24 pm

It's about time this enforcement is occurring. I agree with some other who posted why it has taken so long. Waiting for 6 months with 5-10 warnings/citations to actually do enforcement is ridiculous. I have never had such grace in my dealings with the city. The article mentions that 3 were towed but that does not make much of a dent in the overall number there which currently seems to hover around 25 between PAMF and Stanford Avenue. On other threads regarding this topic others have cited a city code that prohibits overnight parking of vehicles in excess of 20 feet on city streets. Don't see why the city cannot use this to more aggressively enforce.

Hopefully the towing of these 3 vehicles will show the city is getting serious and encourage others to move on.


Resident
College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 6:59 am
Resident, College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 6:59 am

The numbers of RVs were quite high. 50 sounds about right.. give or take.
I wonder if they could have qualified for perhaps subsidized housing?
East Palo Alto has always been an option for cheaper housing.. within extremely close proximity to Palo Alto. Was East Palo Alto also too expensive?

I live in College Terrace and yes the RVs were a health hazard and eyesore.
However, seeing them in a photo being towed is also heart breaking because it's not just a car, it was someone's home.
I wish there was more that could have been done.

The issue needed to be addressed, but sadly the underlying causes have not been dealt with.


Alice
Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 8:08 am
Alice , Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 8:08 am

Private property and continued enclosure creating massive inequality is the problem. Homelessness should not be illegal. All of these laws benefit neoliberals unconcerned with their fellow human beings and who offer no solution but technodystopia. The ironic thing is that their children will live in that world and despite the dreams of the electric sheep, not all of them will be at the top. Ending neoliberal dystopia has to start somewhere.


Scotty
Green Acres
on Oct 26, 2017 at 8:56 am
Scotty, Green Acres
on Oct 26, 2017 at 8:56 am
Resident
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2017 at 10:06 am
Resident, Midtown
on Oct 26, 2017 at 10:06 am
al munday
another community
on Oct 26, 2017 at 10:57 am
al munday, another community
on Oct 26, 2017 at 10:57 am

To these trailer and RV owners, if you really want to live like that, keep your area clean and garbage free [portion removed].. and if you work in PA and keep a sloppy traier RV then it should be towed.

if you kept your trailer/RV orderly and neat, and you working in PA, then you would have cash to make your mobile home look nice


Miserable
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2017 at 11:32 am
Miserable , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

I don't care what the particulars are. There is no delight I can imagine in the towing of someone's home no matter how humble. Towing and storing is extremely expensive and likely the owners won't be able to recover them. I see nothing to celebrate. If you do, then you are way out of touch. Does Stanford do compassion transplants?


Roger
Evergreen Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 11:33 am
Roger, Evergreen Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 11:33 am

Neoliberals,hmmmm!
[Portion removed.]
Homelessness is not illegal and its irresponsible to suggest otherwise, its an issue that isn’t new but still needs solved, but allowing anyone to just thumb their nose at the laws will not solve anything.


a MV resident
Mountain View
on Oct 26, 2017 at 11:49 am
a MV resident, Mountain View
on Oct 26, 2017 at 11:49 am

I hope the Palo Alto Police is approaching this complex issue with the same sensitive care as the Mountain VIew Police. The MVPD's Sept 20 statement on their approach to this issue:
"We are so fortunate to serve a city that celebrates diversity and determination, where residents champion things great and small every day. We’re honored to protect and serve you, and we wanted to take a moment to shed some light on our efforts to create a comfortable and safe environment for everyone.

Today, you may have read that two of our officers with our Neighborhood and Event Services Unit towed a handful of vehicles – including two RVs. Please know, we do not do such things lightly. Out of a risk to public health, we towed the two RVs after we learned that they were leaking raw sewage onto the street. Three more vehicles – all cars – were towed after being repeatedly told to move from their current location.

Several warnings and citations were issued over several weeks, with a final notification given last week to give people ample time to move. We also made several attempts to connect these residents with services by referring them to organizations such as the Community Services Agency. But, when we arrived on Tuesday to check in, the vehicles had not moved and raw sewage was still leaking onto the street. Because of the public health hazard and the fact that the vehicles had not moved for at least five days (and some had been stationary for even longer), we had to have them towed. It was also reported that a family with children was displaced due to the tows. For clarification, there was no evidence of children associated with any of the towed vehicles and we have no evidence to suggest that any families were displaced. When we come across these situations, we make every effort to connect families and children to appropriate social services.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in homelessness, and with that we have seen an increase in a need for our department to adapt to better address and assist this growing population. This increase is not just something that has happened in Mountain View – it’s something that is happening throughout the Bay Area.

As such, we created a unique role within the department – the Community Outreach Officer. The role, which is part of our Neighborhood and Event Services Unit, is designed specifically to act as a liaison between the department and vital services that operate right here in our community –such as CSA -- to best serve these individuals and families. Officer Mike Taber, the first officer to be assigned to this role, has been working daily to help these folks know how and where to go should they require services such as housing options and medical needs.

Solving the entirety of the struggles that result from homelessness can be a monumental effort, but that in no way has deterred the City of Mountain View and the Mountain View Police Department from enacting a compassionate, holistic approach. To see more on what efforts we have implemented and what they entail, visit Web Link

As we have begun meeting daily with residents, resident groups and other stakeholders who want to discuss how to best address improving the livelihood of those affected by homelessness, we have also been made aware of certain concerns. We know of instances where teenagers are cat-called as they are walking home by certain individuals who live in RVs on Crisanto Avenue. We are aware that there are a select few who are taking advantage of living out of a car or an RV to sell drugs and to intimidate other members of the RV community. Today, for example, we had to arrest a woman after we discovered she was selling heroin out of her RV that was stationed in Cuesta Park next to where children were having a picnic. We want everyone to feel safe, and this type of behavior is unacceptable.

We serve every resident, and we want you to know that if you need help, we are here for you. We want everyone to enjoy everything our wonderful community has to offer, and while homelessness is not an issue that is solved quickly, we know that by working together, we can try and do so with the upmost compassion and understanding. We also want to ensure in every way possible that our city is safe. That is what our residents expect, and that is what they deserve."


PlainSpeaker
Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm
PlainSpeaker, Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm
Jane
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm
Jane, Palo Alto High School
on Oct 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm

The RV are surrounded by garbage and debris. Because they stay put, the City isn’t cleaning the road or gutters in this area. Several RVs do not look as though they are in condition to drive. Please find an unused parking lot where these vehicles can be parked. The present site is a disrespect to citizens of Palo Alto and Stanford. It’s an array of homeless taking advantage the City. As far as I am concerned the City has no balls to manage this.


T Lady
Palo Verde
on Oct 26, 2017 at 12:57 pm
T Lady, Palo Verde
on Oct 26, 2017 at 12:57 pm

OK how about the VW van on Clemo? There is always a mess by their van, it has been there for months. They leave shopping baskets of garbage on the sidewalk, The lady lights wood in little glasses right near piles of dried leaves. They painted and left unsafe chairs in Juana Briones park. I removed the last with huge nails in them.


Resident
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm
Resident, Midtown
on Oct 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm
mj
College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm
mj, College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm

When the stretch of El Camino fronting Stanford became a de facto second hand car sale lot with these cars parked back to back for days or weeks at a time (remember all those "for Sale" signs in the windows of the cars) the city worked with CalTrans to get this stretch of El Camino designated no overnight parking. About the same time a woman sleeping in her car (not homeless) was attacked, raped I think, which may also be connected with the overnight parking ban.

Don't know why or when the overnight parking ban was lifted. Does anyone know if the city is working with CalTrans to reinstate the overnight parking ban? I also wonder if the entrepreneur who owned the 8 to 10 vans that he parked permanently on Oxford and Cambridge is back in business? The smell of sewage was rampant and the streets couldn't be cleaned.

At a minimum there should be no overnight parking at least one day a week so the street can be cleaned. That's quite normal.


jim h
Community Center
on Oct 26, 2017 at 2:44 pm
jim h, Community Center
on Oct 26, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Why are some people pretending this is somehow an anti homeless people cursade.

Being homeless and being a repeated scofflaw are two separate things. It sounds like these folks were given multiple citations over 6 months and simply refuse to cooperate. Apparently making some simple adjustments like moving the campers once in a while is enough to not be towed.


mj
College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:02 pm
mj, College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Some years ago this stretch of El Camino had become a car sale lot. Remember all those "for sale" signs in the windows of cars parked overnight, and often for weeks at a time. To solve this problem the city worked with CalTrans to establish an overnight parking ban. About the same time a woman had parked her car in the early morning hours to sleep and she was attacked (raped as well I think) which may have been a further reason for the overnight parking ban.

I don't know why or when the ban was lifted, probably around the time we began to see so many parking spaces occupied 24/7 by RV's and campers. Does anyone know if the city is working with CalTrans to reinstate the overnight parking ban. Or at least a ban one night a week so the street can be cleaned. While many camper occupants may be responsible about disposing of their sewage (and not down the storm drains), unfortunately there are those who are not. And when parked for weeks or months at a time the problem of trash underneath attracts vermin.

I wonder if the entrepreneur who parked 6-10 campers on Oxford and Cambridge for years which he rented out is back in business?


mj
College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm
mj, College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Apologies for the double post. I thought the first one hadn't posted.


no parking on the east side of El Camino
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm
no parking on the east side of El Camino, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm

There is no parking from 4-6 pm on the East side of El Camino, why isn't that on the West side too?


Baron Park
Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:50 pm
Baron Park, Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 3:50 pm

This is why Fry's should become an RV parking camping, rental lot. Why did the City stop with the Buena Vista purchase ? ... A good start but there are many more people out there that need help - some more that the current residents of Buena Vista. We need Winter and her crew to begin a movement for another trailer park for those who were left out of the Buena Vista space.


DT North
Downtown North
on Oct 26, 2017 at 4:27 pm
DT North, Downtown North
on Oct 26, 2017 at 4:27 pm

For some affordable housing why can't we have a taller building or two or three? It is an inefficient use of space to have only two stories tall when we're short on space. Parking garage basement and taller building. I think because we want to pretend we're still just a little town. It's the only place with a lot of jobs, people are going to come here. And yes find a parking lot and build some bathroom facilities for those RV's. I feel sorry for the people, on the other hand some of them are falling apart into the lane of traffic. One that was left to park on the street between PAMF and Town and Country had actually burned and was allowed to stay parked there for weeks!! Am also glad the guy in the pink one with writing all over it moved either of his own accord or because he had to but I did not enjoy explaining those words to my curious young girls on the way to school!


About time
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2017 at 5:58 pm
About time, Midtown
on Oct 26, 2017 at 5:58 pm

@MV resident, why would we at all want to emulate the MV police efforts in this area. It is wonderful that they are coming at the problem with empathy and help but it is still a huge issue in MV. There are so many RVs parked next to Rengstorff park, just like in Palo Alto the existing enforcement has been a joke.


Hipocrites
East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm
Hipocrites, East Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Typical progressive tolerance. Homeless are targeted with a 'fix' that keeps them "not in my back yard". When you see the long term effects of your beliefs and policies daily, does it make it easier on your guilty conscience's to chase folks into the shadows? Your trivial donations only serve to perpetuate enslavement to the system of subsistence rather than teach the liberty and pride created through one's own produce and industry.


Sophie
another community
on Oct 26, 2017 at 9:01 pm
Sophie, another community
on Oct 26, 2017 at 9:01 pm

On one hand, I feel sorry for the motor home owners that their routine life were disturbed. On the other hand, I am curious why they are so keen to live on the public street, and create potential safety issues to cars, bikers, and cause hygiene problem. Palo Alto and neighboring city, ie Mountain View, need to do a reasearch to find out the root cause and an better solution than just towing them away


abandoned?
Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 9:45 pm
abandoned?, Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2017 at 9:45 pm

It sounds like the 2 RVs and 1 trailer that were towed had been abandoned.


Homeless
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Oct 26, 2017 at 9:54 pm
Homeless, Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Oct 26, 2017 at 9:54 pm

Why?! How about rents at $4000 a month, and whole group of folks, paying $12 an hour and feeling good about it.


Lyttonlady
Professorville
on Oct 27, 2017 at 12:23 am
Lyttonlady, Professorville
on Oct 27, 2017 at 12:23 am

Maybe of the RV dwellers live happily in their homes. Many are employed, and enjoy the freedom of moving from place to place.
Living in an RV also gives the dweller an opportunity to save money instead of spending his earnings on high rent. Redwood City has overnight parking enforcement , therefore many choose to live in Palo Alto and Mountain View.


AllYouCanEat
Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2017 at 5:02 am
AllYouCanEat, Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2017 at 5:02 am

Tell the RVers to come to Mt.View. The city will let them park anywhere and everywhere for as long as they want! The Mountain View city council is scared to death of seeming insensitive.


The Dude
Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2017 at 2:23 pm
The Dude, Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2017 at 2:23 pm
Marc
Midtown
on Oct 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm
Marc, Midtown
on Oct 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Since the county now owns a trailer park in Palo Alto, why don't they move all the RV's there? :^)

/marc


resident
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm
resident, Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Please do not compare Buena Vista to the ECR RV problem. The people at BV are documented as to who they are and are anchored to the location. The ECR RV people are unknown as to who they are but they seem pretty clever to take advantage of everyone by squatting on our streets. Yesterday two RV's were parked down by McDonalds while city crews were trying to repair the street directly where they were. What a mess that large vehicles were squatting in the middle of a city work crew trying to fix a problem. I still see RV's that are planted with no observable means of moving. What is more irritating is that RV's are squatting outside new SU housing where children live. Who wants to look out the window and see RV's with people that no one knows. We now have continual problems with people breaking car windows, bothering children on the streets. etc. We have enough problems now with random people breaking the law so why are we letting unknown people squat on ECR.


the_punnisher
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2017 at 8:50 pm
the_punnisher, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 15, 2017 at 8:50 pm

See my post in the related story in East Palo RV towing.


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