City looks at revenue losses, whether to allow RV campers to stay 24/7 in city parking lot

Daily Post Staff Writer

East Palo Alto’s City Council on Tuesday (April 7) will discuss the different ways that COVID-19 has affected the city, including the loss of tax revenue and changes council might want to make to the city’s RV parking program.

The council will discuss letting the RV dwellers at the lot stay parked there for 24 hours a day. Right now, the RV dwellers who sleep in their RVs on the city-owned lot at 1798 Bay Road must move their vehicles every morning out of the parking lot so that the place wouldn’t become their permanent home.

Councilwoman Lisa Gauthier had asked that City Manager Jaime Fontes and his employees look into a way for the RV dwellers to be able to stay on the lot 24 hours temporarily, pointing out that the point of the stay-at-home order is to keep people from moving around too much and potentially spreading COVID-19.

Both Oakland and San Jose, which have set up temporary lots similar to East Palo Alto’s, have already begun letting RV dwellers park in their lots for 24-hours, according to a report from Assistant City Manager Patrick Heisinger.

Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, the RV dwellers will have to move their vehicles in the morning again, Heisinger’s report says.

However, the city’s costs for the lot will likely go up, as the cost of having a security guard on site will double.

Tax revenues will likely fall

Also on council’s agenda is the city’s finances. A report from Finance Director Brenda Olwin said the city will lose tax revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis.

She estimates that the city will lose $2.25 million of income due to decreases in hotel and sales taxes as well as fewer building permits being pulled. But she expects that the loss from the permits will be shortlived since those permits will be pulled after the crisis ends.

Olwin estimates that between the city’s reserves and money that isn’t being spent on salaries due to vacancies, there won’t be much of a need for budget cuts. However, cuts may still be in the future, Olwin warns, since it is unclear what will happen to the economy when the stay-at-home order ends.

East Palo Alto ran a $15.6 million surplus in the budget year ending June 30, 2019, according to the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

The council Tuesday night will also be considering what is essential or not essential construction during the stay-at-home order.

Council will meet tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., the meeting can be viewed at or by watching the meeting via Zoom