San Jose passes stricter RV, homeless encampment policies around schools

Lauren Martinez Image
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
SJ passes stricter RV, homeless encampment policies around schools
San Jose unanimously passed stricter RV and homeless encampment policies around schools, piloting three campuses impacted the most.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose unanimously passed stricter RV and encampment policies around schools, piloting three campuses impacted the most.

On Educational Park Drive in East San Jose, a row of RV's and large vehicles are parked right outside school gates.

On Tuesday, city council members unanimously passed three ordinances that limit RV parking and encampments.

Mayor Matt Mahan says the goal is to make schools safer.

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"I just want to assure folks the intention is not to criminalize homelessness but it is to delineate areas where folks cannot be and in other areas provide services and do our best to focus our limited resources on expanding the safe, managed places where people can go," Mahan said.

One ordinance approved Tuesday makes a formal ban on 'School Clearance Zones' prohibiting encampments 150 feet within schools.

Another ordinance passed gives the city the towing authority for oversized vehicles whether or not they are lived in.

The city says they will pilot three specific schools that are impacted the most regarding oversized vehicles including KIPP San Jose Collegiate, Shirakawa Elementary School and Challengers School Berryessa.

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During Tuesday's meeting, John Ristow said the pilot program will allow the city to see how they will need to enforce it at other schools.

"I want to make sure that council and mayor knew that there will be some implementation of the pilot locations for the three schools will be able to move forward even this year for a relatively short timeframe," Ristow said. "Beyond that, that's going to require additional resources that will come through the budget process."

Ristow went on to say the pilot program will allow them to scale, understand how do to it, and how much it might cost should it get funded.

Some homeless advocates say these large vehicles are the only thing that keeps people sheltered.

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"The RV parking sites are one - not big enough and they have too many barriers and they're turning down people that are applying," one speaker said.

The Mayor and students from Kipp San Jose Collegiate say the new policies are not meant to criminalize homelessness.

Alfredo Hernandez, a senior at Kipp Collegiate, helped lead the charge last May to create change at his school. His coalition of students reached out to City Council member Peter Ortiz and Mayor Mahan.

Hernandez said incidents of homeless trespassing on campus or altercations as students leave campus pushed him to make sure officials know this should not be tolerated.

"I am hopeful for the future and I'm also hopeful that schools across San Jose will be very secure and safe because of this," Hernandez said.

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