At the climax of a contentious argument about RV parking and the welfare of potentially homeless residents, Berkeley’s City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to ban overnight parking of large vehicles on city streets.
The new rules specify:
It is unlawful for any person to park any oversize or heavy duty commercial vehicle on any street between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. for a greater length of time than one hour. For the purpose of this section, oversize or heavy duty commercial vehicle shall mean [...] but shall not be limited to dump trucks, moving vans, tractors, pole or pipe dollies, recreational vehicles (RVs), campers.
The city originally passed the ban in late February, but the rules required a second vote before the new law goes into effect.
Opponents were hoping for a rare reversal or at least a delay on the final vote due to the volume of protest from challengers who allege that the parking prohibition discriminates against otherwise homeless people who rely on recreational vehicles as their primary—or, in many cases, only—source of shelter on city streets.
The vote comes one day after the San Francisco Chronicle’s profile of Yesica Prado, a recent UC Berkeley graduate who lives in an RV in Berkeley while working as a photographer reporting on the lives of homeless people in the Bay Area.
KTVU reported before Tuesday’s vote that 100 protesters attended the meeting, many bearing signs and placards reading, “Let RVs stay the night.”
Even Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan took the unusual step of weighing in on a neighboring city’s affairs with a letter to Berkeley lawmakers warning, in part:
Citing RVs and making them move from location to location has not resulted in a decrease in the number of individuals who are homeless. In fact, it can exacerbate the situation by creating debt and instability for families and individuals who have already experienced displacement.
By designating allowed, managed locations we can have waste collection and prevent sewage from getting into the streets and provide more humane solutions. I ask you to pause on this vote, and instead identify adequate alternative locations for RVs.
Despite impassioned pleas, Berkeley lawmakers says that they have received roughly 1,500 complaints about RV campers, whom local merchants accuse of littering parking areas and taking spots away from business use, particularly on the west side of town.
On Tuesday’s second vote, council representatives Kate Harrison, Cheryl Davila, and Rigel Robinson voted no on the ban. Sophie Hahn, Rashi Kesarwani, Ben Bartlett, Lori Droste, and Susan Wengraf, and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin voted yes.
Voting results were identical to the previous round on February 28.