PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – There’s a crackdown coming on people who are living in RVs along one of Palo Alto’s busiest roads.

The vehicles are popping up on El Camino Real near Stanford and Palo Alto High School.

From the air, using Sky Drone 5, the scope of the problem is clear. RV’s stretch as far as the eye can see down El Camino Real.

But it’s from ground that the human side, and challenges, of the city’s crackdown can best be appreciated.

RV owner Frank Daniel Aldama said, “I’ve been a few places and pretty much everywhere you go you get chased off.”

Aldama is one of dozens of people living in RV’S on El Camino.

“My normal routine for taking a shower is using these — the wipettes,” Aldama said.

Over a decade ago, Aldama says, a divorce sent him into a downward spiral of drugs and despair.

And when he finally got clean and sober four years ago, his family bought him an RV so he would have a roof, however modest or movable, over his head.

“The life I lead is full of uncertainty…I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. If I had a way out, I’d take it — in a heartbeat,” he said.

But Palo Alto is planning to crack down on people like him. Anyone who parks longer than 72 hours on El Camino Real could be ticketed or towed.

Palo Alto City Manager James Keene said, “All we’re doing is enforcing a law that’s on the books that people need to move their cars. It doesn’t mean they have to leave the city. And we certainly understand this is an issue about people — not vehicles.”

The police department is partnering with social workers to see if they can’t help the people living in the RVs before displacing them.

Palo Alto police Capt. Zach Perron said, “If we go out and educate the public about the law actually says and what the consequences could be if they disregard the law, we fully expect to get compliance.”

But many living in the RVs say the crackdown feels capricious, an attack on people without much in the way of money or options.

Aldama said, “If I had somewhere to go, I’d go.”

Technically, people with movable RVs could just move to another stretch of the road every 72 hours.

Comments (3)
  1. “All we’re doing is enforcing the law.” Right, a law that criminalizes being poor. Palo Alto city government sound like a bunch of a-holes, no doubt reflecting the mindset of its well-healed citizenry. Also, enforced in this way, against these people, the law they plan to enforce is probably unconstitutional.

    1. Adam Non says:

      Some of those are nice vehicles, some may be in financial trouble, but crying poor is no excuse for choosing to park in the middle of town. Why choose this spot? To be close to public restrooms and a supermarket?

      How are they maintaining their waste? Their trash, their sewerage?

      They’re taking up dozens of parking spots. They’re outside a couple of schools with small children and summer camps. It’s absurd. It’s a busy area with shopping and recreation, with parking for people to come and go, it’s not an RV park.

      These are also wide vehicles taking up the cycle path and the traffic lane.

      Every day this past week, we had to drive down a side road into Stanford University and walk back past RVs parked where people expect to be able to pick up and drop off.

  2. Vicki Moore says:

    We have a ridiculous shortage of housing. What’s more ridiculous is the price of housing that is available. Instead of kicking them off of El Camino with nowhere else to go, tell them where they can go. Find or create a place for them to go. They have found a reasonable solution to their situation to keep themselves safe and healthy. These people are desperate. They’re one step away from being on the street. Give them an alternative.

    They’re taking up parking spaces? Please. Have some empathy.