Mountain View Ban on RV Parking Faces Lawsuit that Claims It Is Discriminatory

Speaking in Spanish in front of Mountain View City Hall at a news conference earlier this month, resident Celerina Navarro patiently explained why she and her family deserve a place to stay. Navarro lives with her family in a large recreational vehicle parked in approved city parking lots.

“Mountain View is my city, too, I have a community here,” said Navarro, whose remarks were translated by the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley’s J.D. advocate Maricela Lechuga. “I want the city to provide permanent affordable housing options for myself and all Mountain View residents.”

The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley has sued the City of Mountain View over the city’s new ordinance that bans recreational vehicles from city streets, which RV residents say leaves them feeling unsafe.

Navarro and other RV residents are named as plaintiffs in the class action complaint, filed in the United States District Court Northern District of California. The Law Foundation is suing along with the ACLU of Northern California and Berkeley-based Disability Rights Advocates. Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the international law firm King & Spalding are pro bono partners in the suit.

The Law Foundation is asking the court to declare that Mountain View’s RV ban is discriminatory against residents with disabilities and is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing the city from enforcing its ban.

The City of Mountain View adopted its RV ban as ballot Measure C in November, prohibiting RVs from being parked on streets deemed too narrow. The Narrow Streets Ordinance, as the law is named, designates streets less than 40 feet wide to be “narrow.” More than 80% of the city’s streets qualify as narrow, according to a city news release.

The city did not begin enforcing the ban until this month, when it began erecting “No Parking” signs on the so-called narrow streets. The city plans to install thousands of signs across 1,035 blocks over the next six months, starting with the Monta Loma, Farley and Rock Street areas.

Navarro lives with her three children—two minors and one adult—in an RV. She’s been living in an RV for six years since she lost her apartment following a rent increase.

She participates in the city’s Safe Parking program, which gives RV residents a place to park their vehicles for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The city enacted the program in 2019, but the Safe Parking lots did not open until early 2020. There are currently two Safe Parking lots open to RVs in the city, which together host 67 vehicles. There were 191 RV households in the city as of July 2020, according to a City of Mountain View study.

The new ban does not explicitly affect the operation of the Safe Parking lots. However, Navarro said even though she parks in the city-sanctioned lots, she still feels unsafe. She’s heard that some of the new safe parking residents have been issued month-to-month contracts, meaning their leases can be ended at any time.

“We try to be (as peaceful) as possible, because I don’t want them to kick me out,” she said. “They're very demanding; one time one of the program managers… came and demanded that I move one of my shopping carts, and was very insistent.”

Navarro said she’s worried that now that the RV ban is in effect, her place in the safe parking program is in peril.

“We feel bad, because it’s a lot of pressure every day, and (the RV ban) adds to the pressure,” Navarro said. She said she wants to wait for the outcome of the lawsuit to talk to her kids about the ban.

Michael Trujillo, housing staff attorney with the Law Foundation, said the city is spending money on enforcing its RV ban, when it should be spending money on helping RV residents find homes.

“The city announced last year that the signs needed to enforce the RV ban would alone cost over a million dollars,” Trujillo said. “We’re urging that city resources and efforts be used to work with RV residents to find long-term housing solutions.”

Trujillo said the Law Foundation had worked with RV residents to prepare the lawsuit since Spring of 2019, when the city first announced it would pursue an RV ban.

“We’re hoping that the city will actually work with us and find alternative solutions here,” Trujillo said. “But we are prepared to seek injunctive relief if that’s required to prevent the ban from taking effect.”  This injunctive relief would stop the city, at least temporarily, from enforcing the ban.

Nadia Aziz, the Law Foundation’s Housing Directing Attorney, said the Law Foundation was proud to defend the rights of RV residents to park in the city.

“Housing and shelter is a fundamental human right: a right for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity and disability,” Aziz said.

Navarro said she doesn’t know what she and her family will do if she could no longer park her RV in Mountain View. She said residents need to continue to organize to stop the RV ban from sweeping across the city.

“Continue getting together, no matter how many times it takes,” Navarro said.


  1. Mountain View Taxpaying residents – Stand up for your rights to a blight free, clean and safe city. An RV is for recreation not homesteading on city streets. This woman believes she owns the shopping carts? The cost to a store is anywhere from $150 – $300 for a shopping cart – ask for her for her proof of ownership or charge her with theft. How many shopping cart has this person stolen?? “They’re very demanding; one time one of the program managers… came and demanded that I move one of my shopping carts, and was very insistent.”

  2. Lol yea that part had me laughing too. How out of touch can someone be? You are living in a space provided by the city and you think you can take up as much space as you want. As you mentioned the fact that she has not 1 but multiple shopping carts is even more insane. I bet they had her move it because it was blocking someone. What a joke..

  3. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, etc.. all these software companies.. want to hire people all around the world to place them in ONE region, Bay Area, then it is their fault to creating this mess. We have more offices than apartments, and more on the way. Traffic is a nightmare and will getting worst.

    These RV and homeless residents should all move to a better and cleaner area like Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto. Heck, move them to these software companies HQ.

  4. Tea Maker, You do realize that “all these sw companies..” and directly their employees are the ones paying taxes and funding the Bay Area region. I hope you don’t expect the exploding number of vagrants, transients and vandals to make any city “better and cleaner” through their tax dollars or contributions, heck they won’t even get off their duffs to improve the areas they nest in. The vagrant camps are evidence enough – graffiti, trash, cut fences, stolen shopping carts and bicycles, rampant drug abuse, increased vermin and unsanitary conditions.
    If you want to move them anywhere move them to the Governors Mansion estate or his winery vineyards land in Napa. RECALL GAVIN NEWSOM!!
    “Newsom made reducing homelessness a key part of his gubernatorial campaign spending $13 Billion on homelessness since 2018, but the population has only increased since then – up by 24% from 2018 to about 161,000 people in 2020.
    That was before the coronavirus pandemic upended the economy. ”
    57% of voters rated his job performance on the issue as POOR or VERY POOR and only 13% labeled it good or excellent.

  5. CA Patriot,

    Here’s an analogy to this mess. Have you ever gone to a restaurant that has a capacity of 100 patrons maximum? Well, we are beyond that 100 threshold here in the Bay Area, and we want to build more offices.

    What’s the point of having so much jobs when there aren’t enough housing and resources (e.g. water, electricity) in one single region, the Bay Area? Spread the job opportunities across the country.

    Yes, there are super wealthy people living in the Bay Area, and tax collections help the cities. BUT, you just look at San Jose’s roads. They aren’t updated in years! So, where are all those taxes we collected? Anyway, that is beside the point.

    The Bay Area has way too many people.

    One last point, many wealthy people buy up home properties to invest. I am pretty sure there many houses that aren’t occupied.

  6. Tea Maker, I think many companies and corporations have already decided to leave CA due to Failed Leadership from Gov New(TAX)som on down – I have no problem with it. “Companies Are Fleeing California. Blame Bad Government.” Silicon Valley remains the world’s preeminent tech hub. But that won’t last if lawmakers there keep antagonizing businesses.

    Some of the development is tearing down old decrepit buildings and putting up new office space. Businesses and investors make those decisions it is there risk if they are not able to fill the jobs due to the concerns you mention.

    As for “too many people”, I won’t disagree, but businesses would not have to “import” skilled workers if CA schools performed better at educating students in skills that contribute to society instead of pushing losing initiatives around victimhood and equity. “California’s newly proposed MATH framework seeks equity as part of the equation” and “California Leftists Try to Cancel (advanced) Math Class.”.. Holding back education for students that want to excel due to quell the “diversity-industrial complex” is only hurting CA and the country itself.

    As far as roads go that is more due to the one party state bureaucracy that cannot accomplish a single infrastructure project on time or on budget. Also blame Bait & Switch Gavin New(TAX)som when he stole Billions in Gas Tax & Vehicle Fees when he redirected the 2017 SB 1 (Road Repair and Accountability Act) Gas Tax & vehicle fee dollars to his pet projects like railways to nowhere. The politicians were adamant during the 2018 Gas Tax Repeal campaign that the purpose of the Tax was to fix freeways, bridges, local roads infrastructure projects around the state.

    “Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order Authorizing Theft of Voter-Approved Gas Tax Money
    Order violates Prop. 69, while eliminating highway expansion and repair projects”

  7. I know I missed a “their” and put “there” above – just to avert any English nitpickers – you know CA’s Official Language – Lol.

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