Lots of Love, Mountain View's new safe parking program, has been up and running since July 9. Undoubtedly you have seen multiple news articles touting various perspectives and expectations for clearing the streets of RVs and providing safe places for our vehicle-dwelling neighbors to sleep. There have been high hopes, laments about a slow start, and predictions of small and fleeting benefits. While no one knows the final outcome, we, the Lots of Love team, want to share with the community what is happening, how we see progress over the next year, and opportunities to be involved.
The Lots of Love (LoL) program is the first program of Move Mountain View, a faith-based nonprofit established to benefit those struggling in this increasingly challenging economy. LoL receives funding from the city of Mountain View and Santa Clara County. LoL aims to provide a safe and dependable place for vehicle dwellers to spend the night while engaging in ongoing case management through the Community Services Agency. Case management focuses on helping clients make positive steps toward traditional housing. LoL is modeled after the program run by New Beginnings Counseling Center in Santa Barbara. This program, running since 2004, currently offering 133 spaces in 24 different lots.
Currently we provide overnight parking for six vehicles at two church sites. We have served guests associated with nine vehicles, each staying three to four weeks on average. Of the nine served, three are either in or on their way to permanent housing in the next month.
Both of the initial two churches have had positive and uneventful experiences. One of the churches now knows that vehicles have been parking in their lot at night prior to the program kickoff. The guests have been vigilant in reporting trespassing and suspicious activity as they protect their temporary homes.
Currently the program is operating at capacity, filling the six available spots in the two lots. The city of Mountain View allows up to four vehicles to be parked in a lot without a special permit. We are in active discussion for new lots with an additional five churches in Mountain View and eight others in surrounding communities. We are challenged to find lots open to hosting the RVs; the current lots only accept passenger vehicles. Our goal is to be serving 20 vehicles by June 2019 and 40 by June 2020.
So how can you help? If you are a church or business interested in hosting a few cars or RVs please contact LoL. We'd love to walk you through the program and have you consider partnering with us.
If you are a resident, please contact our City Council and urge them to consider opening up city-owned lots that might be more appropriate for RVs. Also ask the council to streamline the process for permitting larger lots. We have one large lot on the hook but the process to get to a permit is long and complicated. Just a couple larger lots supporting 10 vehicles each will move us a long way to our goal.
If you are a neighbor to one of the potential lots, LoL promises to meet with you and inform you ahead of time what will be happening. LoL will work with you to tailor site-specific operations to best suit the neighborhood. We can be flexible about hours of operation, numbers and types of cars, and guest demographics. While we recognize that hosting vehicles in your neighborhood can be scary, I want to challenge and encourage us all to open our hearts and neighborhoods to those struggling to find a place to sleep.
After three months, the program seems to be working. We are poised and ready to expand the number of vehicles we host. Please join with us in opening up new lots. At the upcoming Oct. 9 City Council meeting, the council will be considering options for larger lots. Please urge the council to make city-owned lots available and to streamline the process for permitting larger lots.
You can reach us at [email protected] or 650-861-0181.
Dave Arnone is a Mountain View resident and director of Move Mountain View.