At last week’s Berkeley Homeless Commission meeting, an RV parking lot was proposed to open by the end of this month on Second Street and University Avenue.
The northwest Berkeley parking lot is one of the locations currently being explored, according to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. Arreguín added that the city manager has not yet approved a specific location for the lot.
“We are conducting outreach to business owners around 2nd and University and looking at other models for safe RV parking,” Arreguín said in an email.
The city has heard from business owners in the area surrounding Second Street and University Avenue expressing their concerns about the safety of the parking lot, according to Arreguín. He added that these businesses have asked the city to find another location for a safe parking site.
Concerns about the lot raised throughout the community include security, potential for crime, blocking access to city streets, reduction of available parking and potential spillover impacts, such as other RVs clustering near the site.
Aiano Nakagawa, a teaching instructor and artist from the Luna Dance Institute in northwest Berkeley, however, supported the idea of an RV-safe parking lot.
“I think that the city of Berkeley should be thinking about alternative housing because of the housing and homeless crisis,” Nakagawa said.
The RV-safe parking site will be modeled after the city of Oakland’s safe parking program, according to Arreguín. This will allow RVs to park 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provide security, restrooms, hand-washing stations and access to potable water.
The safe parking program will prioritize families, students and Berkeley community members to ensure a safe site to park as the city works to provide permanent housing.
The city has contracted Bay Area Community Services to conduct outreach to people sheltering in RVs, Arreguín added. He said the city has identified an initial list of people to invite to move into the safe parking site.
The Second Street and University Avenue parking site could potentially accommodate about 20 RVs. The city has explored other potential sites, but is limited by restrictions on the use of land, access and egress issues, according to Arreguín.
The city has worked for more than a year to open a safe parking site, but has had difficulty in finding a location due to limited land availability and finding a large enough site to park more than 10 vehicles, Arreguín added in the email.
“The 2nd and University site in my opinion is a good location because it is already a city owned lot, and is large enough to accommodate a number of vehicles,” Arreguín said in the email.