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.