Mountain View won't enforce its sweeping restrictions on oversized vehicle parking until this spring, following an agreement to delay a legal challenge against the city's ordinances.
The 90-day stay of litigation, filed in federal court in San Jose, orders that the city suspend enforcement of its RV parking ban on streets with bike lanes and streets that are 40 feet wide or narrower, the latter of which encompasses 88 miles of roadway and the large majority of city streets.
The agreement means RVs and other large vehicles running afoul of the pair of ordinances will not be ticketed or towed until April 5, including the more than 200 inhabited vehicles currently parked along public roads.
Legal advocacy groups sued the city of Mountain View in July last year, calling the parking restrictions a blatant attempt to prevent homeless people residing in Mountain View from seeking shelter in vehicles. A U.S. federal court judge declined to dismiss the case, but also decided against an injunction to prevent the laws from taking effect while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.
The stay of litigation, according to the court filing, gives both parties more time to "engage in settlement discussions" while pushing back the entire schedule of court proceedings. The trial itself, originally scheduled for Dec. 12, has been pushed out to March 2023.
In a statement Monday, Jan. 10, Mountain View city officials said the 90-day stay will give them more time to try to resolve the lawsuit, and that the city still reserves the right to seek voluntary compliance with the parking rules. The city can also still ticket or tow vehicles that present a public health or safety issue.
Enforcement of the parking restrictions has been both lax and slow to start, particularly the narrow streets ordinance. The law was approved in December 2020, but the city did not begin installing "No Parking" signs until August 2021. And at a court hearing in October, attorneys representing the city pointed out that the Mountain View police had yet to tow any vehicles for violating either of the ordinances.
The light enforcement and focus on voluntary compliance was a key argument by the city to avoid an injunction on the RV parking prohibitions, which required proof that vehicle dwellers would be irreparably harmed if the laws were to go into effect. The agreement reached last week not only extends that moratorium on towing, but also makes it a requirement under a court order.
Erin Neff, an attorney at the Law Foundation, said the agreement with the city means vehicle residents will be allowed to stay in place regardless of the "No Parking" signs and notifications put up over the next three months. She said the city "insists" that they do not want to displace people from Mountain View in the event there are no spaces on alternative streets or in safe parking sites.
"We are hopeful that during this time people living in oversized vehicles will feel safe that they will not be forced from their hometown," Neff said. "We are also hopeful that settlement negotiations will lead to a more humane way of addressing the growing homelessness in the Mountain View."
Though the lawsuit takes aim at both the bike lane ordinance and the narrow streets ordinance, the latter has been far more controversial. It was immediately subject to a voter referendum and was placed on the November 2020 ballot as Measure C, where it was passed by city voters by a comfortable margin.
Given the large scope of the ordinance, the city estimated it would need to fabricate and install about 2,600 signs along 435 of the city's 526 public streets, at a cost of $980,000. The installation of the signs has been done in phases, starting in the Monta Loma, Farley and Rock Street neighborhoods and working roughly clockwise through the city.
The final phase of sign installation, which includes the San Antonio, Rengstorff and Del Medio areas of the city, is expected to begin this month, which includes Crisanto Avenue, where a large number of RVs are parked.