After an outpour of community engagement and months of planning, the Redwood City Council voted to approve the next fiscal year’s budget while moving forward with plans to create a safe parking program for residents living in RVs.
The council advised staff to move forward with plans to develop a safe parking permit program for Redwood City RV owners. The program would provide a temporary parking lot on Maple Street, prioritizing families with children, the elderly and those with disabilities. The goal of the program is to transition individuals living in RVs into permanent housing.
A 30-day renewable permit would be granted to applicants who meet program criteria including having proper vehicle registration, a movable unit and a willingness to relocate to permanent housing. Applicants who fail to meet program qualifications could instead receive a shorter permit allowing the applicant time to bring their vehicle into compliance.
Beginning late August to early September, the lot would house 20 to 30 RV units. Overflow RVs would be granted street parking permits which would require the owner enter a strict contract with the city promising to keep the surrounding area clean of personal waste.
“When we met with RV residents, they are already being good neighbors. For most the folks we met with, meeting the basic criteria is not going to be an issue because they believe in that basic criteria, so in that way it’s working together to help people step into other opportunities and other options for the long-term housing as they deserve,” said Teri Chin, the Human Services manager of Redwood City.
RV owners who prefer to remain in their RVs would not qualify for the program and could face ticketing or risk being towed if the council votes to approve an RV parking ordinance change accompanying the measure. The modification would limit the window of time an RV may be allowed to park on any street within the city, prohibiting overnight RV parking between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Allowances will be made permitting RV parking only if the vehicle is registered at the address it sits in front of and for a 48-hour timeframe within a seven-day window. Also included in the measure is a repeal of an existing ban on using vehicles as sleeping or living quarters.
“It is so complex and has to be handled with such care. ... I learned so much from our RV dwelling residents and this proposal really reflects what they wanted as well as the business owners, as well as the other residents,” said Councilwoman Giselle Hale who also sits on the ad hoc committee tasked with developing the program.
The council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2020-21 following continued public input to “defund the police,” a nationwide policy initiative called for local government to divest from law enforcement to reinvest in mental health programs, education and other community resources.
“We do need to listen to all members of our community in order to come up with a solution. I know there are members that I respect so much in the audience tonight who think I’m not listening but I am listening and my goals are with you as well,” said Councilwoman Diana Reddy, who noted residents also implored her to not reduce funding of the police.
After acknowledging the “passion” of speakers, members expressed an interest in working with community members to revisit what public resources look like and assured the public the budget presented in the fall would appear substantially different than what was proposed Monday night.
“I do not support the phrase ‘defund police’ but I support the sentiment that goes along with that phrase. I support our police personnel and the service they provide to our community. I support creating policies that reflect today’s policing needs and expectations like an unarmed crisis team,” said Councilwoman Janet Borgens.
In other business, the council approved a measure permitting temporary outdoor dining through a street closure program. The program includes Main Street between Middlefield Road and Broadway. Sections of Broadway will also be closed from Theatre Way to Main Street though the crossroad of Jefferson Avenue will remain open to vehicles.
Theatre Way, between Broadway and Middlefield Road will also be closed off to vehicles. Parklets will be placed along Broadway from El Camino Real to Theatre Way, allowing for restaurants to expand services outdoors while vehicles maintain road access.
The program will begin Friday, June 26, and participating streets will remain closed seven days a week until the end of September. All merchants looking to expand operations in public spaces are required to apply for an encroachment permit fee which is temporarily free to apply for due to a previous council decision. City staff will monitor closed streets to ensure safety protocol is followed such social distancing requirements and mask wearing.
The council also unanimously approved granting a 3% utility bill credit to all Redwood City sewer utility account holders billed between July to October as a response to the pandemic.