Less than three months after opening as a haven for a handful of people displaced from Apple’s homeless camp, San Jose’s first city-sponsored safe RV parking has been closed.
San Jose officials closed the temporary facility on Sunday because they said everyone who lived there either left on their own or found another place to live. The closure came after months of protests and protests from a group of nearby residents over security concerns and lack of communications.
“For me, the story is not about the closure of the site, but about the success of providing people with a safe place as we move them from their original location to a more suitable, long-term one,” said David Cohen, in whose neighborhood the site was located. “I only regret that the facility was large enough to serve more people, but due to fear from the neighbors, we were not able to fully use it to help more people.”
When Cohen and city housing officials announced in early September that they would convert the parking lot of an old, empty technical office at 71 Vista Montaña in northern San Jose into a campervan for homeless residents, the response was swift. A group of residents living nearby began to organize and conduct protests to prevent this.
The site was created on a temporary, urgent basis, without public hearings and practically without notifying neighbors.
“It’s kind of an insult not to have a say in what the city is doing to your area,” said Alma Goldchain, who has lived in a town house near the area for 25 years. “It just felt like these homeless people who don’t pay property taxes and don’t pay in this city are getting more rights than people who are paying.”
Cities in the Bay Area – from Auckland to Mountain View – have launched secure parking programs in recent years to offer those who live in cars, trucks, and RVs basic services such as toilets and showers and connect them with presenters. which help them find more stable housing.
Unlike most of these properties, which are in industrial and wilderness areas, this San Jose site was in the center of a densely populated residential area with luxury apartments, upscale townhouses and single-family homes, and two parks where dogs, children and sports teams.
A group of neighbors, including Goldchain, took turns patrolling the area to see if anything unpleasant was happening.
Goldchain, who heard about the upcoming closure earlier this week, said she is grateful for completing the chapter, but she still has concerns.
“I’m glad we don’t have to fight so hard, but I don’t think the problem has been solved,” she said. “Now other homeless people started showing up on our streets because they thought it was a safe area.”
Lorelei Martinez lived here until last weekend, when a social worker arranged for her and her fiancé a tiny home on a temporary residential lot in South San Jose.
Although Martinez felt she was pushed out of the safe parking lot faster than she expected, she said she was grateful for the privacy of her tiny new home. She also said that she was now more comfortable because she didn’t have to deal with harassment from neighbors.
“One man stopped next to me and told me that he feared for the safety of his child and that I did not belong to him,” she said. “This experience scared me.”
San Jose opened the site in early September after Apple quickly began dismantling a large homeless camp at its vacant Component Drive site in northern San Jose to prepare for a new campus there. The tech giant paid millions of dollars to put most of those who lived on the vacant lot in motel rooms for nine months and offered them a year in business management services, but a handful of people living in vans or trailers wanted to keep places that they had. called home for a long time.
As an alternative to the motel room, San Jose has opened up a parking lot outside the old tech office, which is now owned by the city.
City officials said the site can hold up to 20 people for no more than nine months – by which time they hope to create more permanent, secure parking.
At its peak, Vista Montaña had 11 parked vehicles, including about five people who lived in the vehicles every night, as well as vehicles that were stored there for people living in the motel.
After the facility was abruptly closed, the city has not yet planned to create permanent, secure parking for residents living outside RVs or vehicles throughout the city.
On Tuesday, two vans were parked in the streets surrounding the former guarded parking lot.
The parking lot was still surrounded by a fence, wrapped in black mesh and wearing Do Not Intrude signs. City Deputy Governor Rosalyn Hughie said the city plans to return the property to its previous state, including removing dumpsters, lanterns, pots and handwashing stations, by December 3.
The city’s Department of Housing works with organizations such as the Valley Transportation Authority, Santa Clara County Housing Authority.
and the District Subsidiary Housing Office to identify potential longer term safe parking spots. Meanwhile, Councilor Cohen is trying to find a permanent place in his area.
Adrian Bueza, a San Jose resident who lives near the former secure parking lot, said he never had any problems using the parking lot. It was better for him than more people on the street.
“I just hope the city finds a place for these people, and not just closes it down, especially in this cold weather,” he said. “We don’t need people to become more and more homeless.”