EAST PALO ALTO (KPIX) – East Palo Alto may provide people living in motor homes and RVs a permanent parking space.
The city is considering a plan to provide parking and some services at the former Tanklage site on Bay Road.
“They have so many homeless people here, but they think they’re all drug addicts,” says Annette Brown. “That’s not the case.”
Brown is talking about the dozens of people who live in cars and RVs who parked there.
People like Mattie Flores, a retired housekeeper who’s been living in her car for a year-and-a-half and settled in here a month ago.
“I buy ice every day to keep my food fresh. I’m just trying my best to survive. That’s all I can do,” says Flores.
Now, there may be a more permanent place for them to stay.
The city is deciding whether to turn city-owned land into a sanctioned safe parking lot for homeless RVs.
“I am not aware of any RV safe parking initiatives, actually in the whole state,” says Pastor Paul Bains of Project ‘We Hope.’
The pastor is working with the city and community groups to make the
first-of-its-kind RV parking plan happen.
“If you are a transient, this program is not for you,” he said.
There would be space for 20 vehicles which would have to be safety checked, operational and able to drive in and out of a space every day.
An estimated 53 percent of the children in the Ravenswood School District are considered homeless. The program is designed to help them and their families.
“We’re going to work with the people in our backyard as opposed to a ‘not in my backyard’ mindset,” said Bains.
He’s talking about neighborhood opposition.
Lee Clemons has owned the commercial lot next to the proposed RV parking site for 50 years.
“I keep my place clean, and I don’t want people to make this a junkyard,” he says. “I have nothing against homeless folks as far as that’s concerned.”
But he says the city’s plan is unrealistic and is likely to create more problems than it solves.
“They’re going to bring a whole lot of trash and stuff, rats, right next door. And I don’t want it. It’s going to degrade my property.”
The city says there will be trash pickups and sanitation, plus portable showers and laundry machines.
Mattie Flores says it would be a small improvement in an otherwise tough existence.
“We would have garbage cans and be more organized,” she says. “I really think it would be safe and better for us.”