The city of Mountain View has officially settled a federal lawsuit this week challenging ordinances that prohibit oversized vehicles from parking on most public roadways, releasing the settlement agreement to the public Friday, Sept. 23. The settlement will be finalized once approved by the court.
The lawsuit took aim at a pair of ordinances – originally passed by the City Council in 2019 and then affirmed through the Measure C voter referendum in 2020 – which prohibits RVs and other large vehicles from parking on narrow streets and streets with bike lanes.
The ordinances have drawn criticism from homeless advocates who say the rules could push hundreds of homeless people out of the city who are currently living out of vehicles, while supporters of the rules point to the public health hazards caused by some RV dwellers.
Under the settlement agreement, the city must ensure that there are at least 3 miles of street segments with available parking capacity for oversized vehicles. Each street segment included within these 3 miles must have some parking capacity for oversized vehicles on both sides of the street.
Celerina Navarro, a Mountain View resident living in her RV and one of six plaintiffs in the class action suit, was pleased with the results of settlement negotiations, according to a statement from the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, one of the legal organizations representing the plaintiffs.
“The outcome of the case is good because without this settlement, we would be facing the threat of displacement," Navarro said. "Now people can feel more at ease knowing that they can remain in Mountain View without being displaced.”
In a map released with the settlement, and available to view here, large swaths of the city’s streets have been marked in green, indicating that these are either narrow streets or streets with bike lanes. The city defines narrow streets as being 40 feet wide or less, which includes 470 of the city's 525 public streets.
Areas marked in gray are those where oversized vehicles are not prohibited. These include Old Middlefield Way, Terra Bella Avenue, part of Central Avenue and part of Leghorn Street, to name a few. As part of the settlement agreement, the city must maintain and update this map, which must be available in English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.
As for enforcement, the settlement states that an oversized vehicle in violation of the ordinances can only be towed immediately if the vehicle is parked in the path of traffic, blocking a driveway, or occupied by someone with repeat violations of the ordinances who has previously received three or more parking citations.
In all other situations, oversized vehicles may only be towed for violating the ordinances 72 hours after at least one parking citation has been issued.
Requests for reasonable accommodations based on disability relating to the ordinances “might come in the form of requests for additional time to come into compliance with the ordinances, and the city will consider such requests in good faith,” the settlement states, though the agreement does not require the city to grant those requests. “Requests for reasonable accommodations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with applicable law.”
More generally, Mountain View police have discretion to provide more time to move RVs after issuing a citation if an officer determines there is "good cause," which could mean the occupant of the oversized vehicle hasn't received the notice, or a request by the RV occupant for additional time to address mechanic problems with the vehicle.
On attorney's fees, the settlement states that both parties will "attempt to negotiate plaintiffs' claim for attorney's fees and costs in connection with the prosecution and settlement of the action, which the city contests."
Erin Neff, lead policy attorney with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the suit in a statement.
“The city’s ban on RVs and other oversized vehicles was a draconian law that immediately towed people’s homes for just one violation of the law," Neff said. "This settlement provides protections and resources to people living in RVs, rather than punishment.”