New city-sanctioned 'Safe RV Lot' opens in Oakland

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Saturday, June 22, 2019
New city-sanctioned 'Safe RV Lot' opens in Oakland
The City of Oakland opened its first "Safe RV Lot" on Friday, June 21, 2019.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For the first time in a long time, Jade Koga says she feels safe in her home, an RV now parked in a secure place after more than a year on the streets.

"Before I came here I was parked pretty much everywhere," said Jade Koga, who just moved into the new city-sanctioned "Safe RV Lot" on San Leandro Street at 71st Avenue. "I was over in Alameda for a while. Just moving around. It was terrible."

Unlike for the hundreds of RV's parked along Oakland's avenues and side streets, there are hookups for power, fresh water, bathrooms and security.

"We want to be both compassionate and effective," explained Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Schaaf is well aware the growing number of RV's parked in her city are just a symptom of a much larger problem.

"We do not find it acceptable for people to use our sidewalks as trash cans, to put their raw human waste into our storm drain systems," said Schaaf. "That is not acceptable or sustainable. However, we cannot afford to just push this problem somewhere else."

"We know when people live in a safe, regulated environment with security and locking doors, they do better," explained Joe DeVries, assistant to the city administrator in charge of Oakland's response to homelessness.

But not everyone is on board. We talked with a man who did not want his name revealed at a neighboring business.

"I'm not saying all of them are, but if you have a number of people, you're going to have a certain percentage who are going to be into drugs, you have thieves," he said. "They're going to steal."

This first city-sponsored RV parking lot is by invitation only via flyers distributed to RV campers parked in the area of 85th and Edes avenues.

At its maximum, the new lot will host 50 RV's for up to six months. After that, the plan is to transition into a more permanent housing solution.

We met one young couple, who have been living in their fifth-wheel along Edes Avenue for about three months. They have a 3-year-old son.

Maria Santora showed us the flyer she received for the new RV site at 71st and San Leandro St., but she knows the lot doesn't accept anyone under 18.

"I have my son and it's only 18 and over, and I'm not willing to leave my son anywhere," said Santora.

DeVries told us that families and mothers with children move to the "front of the line" when it comes to available shelter space, but so far, Santora told us she hasn't received word of any openings, at least nothing better than the fifth wheel.