MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Mountain View and Santa Clara County leaders announced the expansion of a safe parking site for residents living in their vehicles located a short distance from the Shoreline Amphitheater.
As ABC7 News continues to focus on efforts to Build a Better Bay Area, we're taking a look at the upcoming expansion and learn what impact the program is having on addressing homelessness.
On Wednesday morning, city, county and community leaders recognized what they're calling the largest safe parking program in Santa Clara County.
Expanding this site along North Shoreline Boulevard to include 17 additional safe parking spots.
More than Shoreline Lot B in Mountain View, it's also one of several safe parking sites within the city which a number of unhoused residents rely on.
"I know many were parking in Walmart lots and etc.," Executive Director of Move Mountain View, Amber Stime told ABC7 News. "As much as we have stigmatized homeless individuals as being the criminals, usually they face a lot of misfortune. So safe parking brings that safety for them."
Stime explained the program also offers access to case management and services leading to more stable housing.
On Wednesday, the group announced the additional safe parking spaces for those living in oversized vehicles. Already, the lot provides 29 temporary parking spots for families and individuals.
"We continually expand," Mountain View Mayor Alison Hicks said. "We're using lots that are waiting for development, such as affordable housing developments - we have two of those that we're using temporarily for safe parking. And then we have this parking lot next to our Shoreline Amphitheater which is frankly not used all the time."
County Supervisor Joe Simitian told ABC7 News, "It's harder than it looks, frankly. You know, there aren't many places that are available, there aren't that many places that say, 'Sure, we'd like to have a couple dozen RVs parked overnight, or over an extended period of time.' But when people can step up, it makes a big difference."
There was contention within the Mountain View community as the city enforced timed parking limits on its public streets for residents living in these oversized vehicles and RVs back in 2022.
On Wednesday, Mountain View currently has three city-secured lots and one so-called Faith lot in operation. The expansion announced Wednesday brings Mountain View's program capacity up to 114 safe parking spaces- the largest in Santa Clara County.
"What it has come down to is that it is a system of - people are using their vehicles as a form of housing," Stime shared. "And the other portion of it is, as a community, we need to recognize them as being part of this community."
With the 17 new spaces comes the acknowledgement that more work still needs to be done.
"We can house, we can open parking lots, we can increase the numbers," Stime said. "But if we don't build housing, it doesn't mean anything. This is temporary."
The average stay at the North Shoreline Blvd. lot is approximately 287 days, according to the city. With the expansion, Mountain View leaders estimate the program will serve up to 180 participants per month.
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