Designated RV parking spots are only temporary solutions

STATE AFFAIRS: Berkeley must work with nearby cities to find long-term affordable housing solutions

Illustration of RV driving at night
Emily Bi/Senior Staff

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A community full of RV dwellers living in harmony may finally become a reality: Berkeley City Council recently passed a resolution to provide 25 overnight RV parking spots. 

These spaces will be dispersed throughout the city to ensure that public health implications and residential concerns will be alleviated. Although City Council’s attempts to set up a 24-hour RV parking site were unsuccessful, the addition of overnight parking spots is a temporary but productive step in the right direction for a geographic area currently facing an overwhelming housing crisis.

These city-sanctioned parking spots will allow people living in RVs to stay overnight in sanctioned parking lots — at least for three months. In this testing phase, RV owners will have access to portable restroom facilities and a trash pickup, and if this lot is successful then it can be renewed.

In the middle of a citywide housing crisis, however, sanctioning 25 spots seems minuscule. Policymakers need to react to the dire circumstances facing the homeless population and make an effort to aid those on the streets. Long-standing community members of Berkeley deserve to have a place to call home, but the city of Berkeley cannot effect meaningful change all on its own. The shortage of available land in Berkeley means that the city needs regional help.

Although nearby cities, such as Oakland, have also implemented parking sites, these lots are not fulfilling long-term solutions for the growing homeless population. Oakland’s site only supports 30-50 vehicles, and even coupled with Berkeley’s new RV site, it seems that both cities are far cries away from reaching an effective long-term solution, but the county at large has a responsibility to help.

Furthermore, City Council’s resolution fails to address a pivotal aspect of RV parking — the enforcement code that prohibits parking from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Adding 25 overnight spots for RV dwellers does not change the fact that, for the most part, these people do not have anywhere to park overnight. This only highlights that, while these spots are definitely a step in the right direction, these policies are woefully behind in terms of what this community needs. City Council should consider revisiting or even rolling back this enforcement code because this code only serves to wound an already suffering community. 

For a city that claims to support the rights of its homeless community, the implementation of the enforcement code overshadows the inclusion of the parking spots. While Berkeley’s resolution to offer city-sanctioned RV parking spots is appreciated, this is merely a band-aid rather than an effective way to address a larger homelessness crisis.

Affordable housing needs to be in our future — not in our rearview mirror. The city of Berkeley must recognize the benefits of working with other regional areas to enact change.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2020 opinion editor, Simmy Khetpal.