BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel is disputing the statement of a police sergeant who said the city’s services attract people who live in RVs and other vehicles.
Sgt. Wahed Magee told City Council on March 6 that services from the Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos were drawing people to the city. The number of people living in vehicles shot up from 150 to 291 between February 2017 and December.
But Siegel says the issue is housing costs, not a desire for social services. He said he didn’t see why someone with no ties to the area would park their RV in Mountain View just so that they could access free meals or a case worker.
“Some of these people are gainfully employed, and they go to a gym to take a shower every day before they go to work,” Siegel told the Post. “That makes it a different kind of problem than the chronic homeless that we usually notice sleeping by the creek.”
Siegel said most vehicle-dwellers are employed. Some are construction workers or VTA drivers who go home to the Central Valley on the weekends, he said.
Siegel said it seemed that most vehicle-dwellers don’t even use the agency’s services.
“I think the reason people are here is they have jobs, family, friends here,” Siegel said.
Siegel admitted that he hadn’t been on a ride-along with Mountain View police to see what they’ve seen, but said he had met with homeless residents.
“I think riding with the police gives you a particular perspective,” Siegel said. “A lot of people are uncomfortable with police, particularly people who are down-and-out.”
Siegel suggested that RV residents are subject to more police scrutiny on the streets, leading to more run-ins with the law.
“It’s not just compassion that leads me to say we need to find a place for these people. Someone’s got to serve the Googlers food,” Siegel said.