Civil rights groups challenge proposed Mountain View RV ban

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of Mountain View is drafting an ordinance that would ban people who live in their RVs from parking on public streets. The decision was first made in March.

Now, two civil rights groups, including the ACLU, are challenging the proposal and calling it "cruel and unusual punishment."

RELATED: Berkeley City Council approves ban on overnight RV parking

Francisa Ramirez Vazquez and her husband live in a trailer parked on a public street in Mountain View. Both work full-time jobs, but they can't afford the skyrocketing rent.

Safety is a concern. But the bigger threat is a possible ordinance by the city that would force them to move.

Back in March, Mountain View city council approved having city staff draft an ordinance to prohibit oversized vehicles from parking on city streets, while also looking at alternatives for people who are living in their vehicles.

But the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the ACLU are now challenging the proposal. In a nine-page letter to the city, they call the proposal "cruel and unusual punishment."

"Parking restrictions that deal with the problem by trying to force people out of the city, is not a solution," says lawyer Michael Trujillo with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

The letter demands that the city, "stop advancing an ordinance to ban oversized vehicle parking citywide because this proposed ordinance violates the California and US Constitutions."

Their letter claims that an oversized vehicle ban punishes people for, "merely trying to survive and stay in their home community."

"The case law in the Eighth Amendment is very clear that the city has to provide an option to sleep indoors, not just a safe place to park," says Trujillo.

He says he applauds the city's effort to come up with alternatives, like their safe parking program. But he says it's not enough.

RELATED: Tensions rise over proposal to ban overnight RV parking on Berkeley streets

"The need for affordable housing and shelter housing is vastly outstripping the abilities to provide safe parking spaces," according to Trujillo.

"I read it and I wouldn't say anything stood out in my mind," says Mayor Lisa Matichak about the letter.

She says the city is looking over the letter and will consider the claims being made.

"At this point, it really is in the hands of our city attorney and her staff, and to take a look at and keep that in mind as they draft the ordinance that will come back to council," explains Matichak.

A draft ordinance is expected to be ready this summer.

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