Mountain View: Insurer won’t cover operating largest lots in RV safe parking program

MOUNTAIN VIEW — The insurance provider for the non-profit
group operating the city’s RV parking lots has pulled out of
negotiations, likely meaning more weeks of delay in expanding safe
parking for RV dwellers this year.

Amber Stime, director of MOVE Mountain View — which is running
the Safe Parking program — said that the organization’s
insurance provider won’t cover the operation of the city’s
three RV parking lots that offer spaces for up to 70 overnight RVs.
The largest lot near the Shoreline Amphitheater has 30 spots and is
set to revert to special event parking in March.

Though the city’s insurance provider already covers the two
city-owned lots in the program — including one at the former
Evelyn VTA light rail station — Stime said MOVE’s insurance
provider hesitated to cover the largest lot near the amphitheater
and will stop covering the organization altogether. MOVE is
currently looking for another provider.

“This is a very new idea to use a parking lot for safe
parking,” Stime said of the program. “This particular insurance
provider, I think, was okay with a little smaller lots, but decided
they didn’t want to expand the coverage to the larger one. I
think they definitely don’t want to be covering these kinds of
facilities.”

Following years of complaints from residents who say oversize
vehicles are illegally dumping waste, blocking bike lanes and
causing nuisances in residential streets, Mountain View in
September set up its Safe Parking Program offering about 70 spots
in private and city-owned lots for people to sleep in
overnight.

Back in September, Mountain View joined East Palo Alto and
Berkeley in banning oversize vehicles — those measuring more than
7 feet high, 7 feet wide and 22 feet in length — from parking on
city streets with designated bike lanes starting this month.
Another measure, which banned oversize vehicle parking on
“narrow” city streets measuring 40 feet wide or less starting
June 30, was contested by RV resident advocates and will be decided
by voters in this year’s ballot.

Mountain View spokeswoman Shonda Ranson said the insurance issue
was “unforeseen,” but she assured residents that church parking
lots hosting up to 4 passenger vehicles each are still open, though
no oversize vehicles will be able to park there.

“MOVE is seeking a new carrier for the additional insurance
required for Safe Parking Program operations,” Ranson said in a
statement. “Presently, the city, county and MOVE are looking at a
number of options to provide this service to our residents in
need.”

Stime said she’s already in conversation with other insurance
companies and that she was “pretty confident” MOVE will again
be covered and the parking lots will be able to resume operation,
though the organization is still seeking an underwriter.

“It’s just a snag and the program will continue,” Stime
said. “But this is just one step to solve this issue. It’s
about providing a housing first approach to homelessness, so the
case management allows people to get resources that they need. I
don’t see [the program] as a thing to prevent homelessness,
it’s a step toward having some stability.”

The insurance snag comes just as safe parking case manager
Community Services Agency is ramping up its outreach to get more RV
dwellers and people living in their cars into the program.

CSA Executive Director Tom Myers said 13 people have already
signed up for the about 70 spots currently open, and that more are
soon to follow. Currently, hundreds of Mountain View families have
found housing in oversize vehicles in Mountain View. A May 2019
count by the city found 212 inhabited vehicles, of which 171 were
RVs.

“I think part of it is that it’s a brand new program, so we
need to time to work up to 70,” Myers said.

Still, as CSA advocates reach out to people, Myers said they are
hearing hesitation from people who would prefer the program to
allow parking all day, not just overnight. And some RV residents
are turned off by rules preventing diesel generator use to power
appliances inside the mobile homes.

Like Stime, Myers said the program isn’t an end-all
be-all.

“Safe parking is an important tool for certain people, but
everyone needs to keep their expectations in check,” Myers said.
“Sometimes people put too much stock into a safe parking program
solving all the issues.”

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Mountain View: Insurer won’t cover operating largest lots in RV safe parking program