City finds a place for car campers to park, but neighbor isn’t happy

A couple of RVs on a Mountain View street. File photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Weeks after setting into motion a plan to eventually ban RVs from parking on city streets, Mountain View City Council has voted to lease a VTA-owned lot where people will be allowed to sleep in their vehicles.

The council voted 6-0-1, with Councilman John McAlister abstaining because he serves on VTA’s board of directors, to enter a 65-year lease with an option to buy the 2.1-acre property at the southwest corner of E. Evelyn Avenue at Pioneer Way.

The city’s long-term goal is to build affordable housing on the site, which is vacant because VTA closed the Evelyn light rail station in 2015.

In the meantime, the lot will be open to vehicle dwellers this fall, City Manager Dan Rich said. VTA will allow the lot to be used for vehicle dwelling for up to two years.

The city will prepay VTA $11 million, plus budget $715,000 for incidental and administrative costs related to the lease.

The city will owe an additional $2 million if it ends up buying the lot, which would have to happen within 10 years, or on the 10th anniversary of the lease if the city doesn’t end up buying the lot.

Down the line, the site could see up to 150 units of subsidized housing. VTA officials want to see at least half the units be affordable to people who make less than half the area median income, or up to $51,250 for a single person.

VTA officials are interested in giving their employees preference for the affordable housing.

Matthew Pataky, the owner of the Sunnyvale Foreign Car Service next door to the lot, told the council that he sympathizes with the need for affordable housing but has concerns about people camping in cars next door to his business.

“I have a lot of high-rank clients who drop off expensive cars right there, and it’s like people are going to be going to the bathroom in the bushes and the trees and everything. It’s a concern for me,” Pataky said.

A young man who followed Pataky said he also didn’t want to see people relieve themselves in the bushes — that’s why it makes sense to offer them a city-sanctioned place to park with portable toilets.

The council voted in March to have city employees write an ordinance banning oversized vehicles from parking on city streets. In December, police counted 290 inhabited vehicles parked on roadways.

The city will open up 20 or so parking spaces at the Shoreline Amphitheatre for a one-time, four-month period starting in November.


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  1. This article didn’t mention how many vehicles the 2 acre lot would accommodate but a Internet search turned up a number of 16 RVs per acre so… 32 total. Here’s the way the numbers play out:

    2 yr cost to the city: $11,715,000
    Divided by 32 vehicles: $366,000
    Yearly cost per vehicle: $183,000
    Monthly cost per vehicle $15,000

    Even if the 2 acre lot will accommodate twice as many vehicles as my estimate, that would still be a ridiculous expense. It would honestly be cheaper for the city to just give each of the RV dwellers a couple thousand dollars every month to subsidize an apartment.

    I would love to read a follow up article explaining how the city of Mountain View can justify this expense.


  2. ^^^ Donna, the short answer is they justify the expense because it makes them feel good about themselves, it’s not their money & the homeless folks will not be living in front of their homes… so it’s okey-dokey.

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