April 4, 2018
Berkeley police have warned the dwellers of RVs lining Marina Boulevard that they’re breaking city law and have to clear out.
At least 20 trailers and large vehicles have been parked on the gravel, just south of the DoubleTree Hotel across the street, in some cases for months. BPD officers came Sunday evening to distribute red warning notices, telling the vehicle residents they’ve been reported to be in violation of a law prohibiting street parking for more than 72 hours.
“If your vehicle is determined to be in violation of this ordinance, a citation will be issued and the vehicle will be towed and stored at your expense,” the notices say.
The notices “definitely sent everybody into a panic,” said Amber Whitson, who lives in one of the RVs. “It’s been a scramble to get everybody ready.”
Osha Neumann, a lawyer with the East Bay Community Law Center and an advocate for homeless people, said he found the response to the circumstances at the Marina “very troubling.”
Neumann has long urged Berkeley to come up with a policy that is more lenient toward people sleeping in cars, sanctioning overnight parking unless there’s a serious concern.
“Towing people’s vehicles essentially means that’s it, they’re losing their home,” Neumann said. “The fees mount up. Why do that to people who actually have a home, who have figured out a way to not be under a tent or under a tarp?”
The city also has a law against parking commercial vehicles, which includes large residential vehicles, between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. The people living in their RVs on Marina Boulevard said police told them the city plans to begin enforcing that law throughout town, which would prevent them from relocating elsewhere in Berkeley.
Neumann said he rejects the city’s policy of enforcing laws against encampments or parking when complaints are received, as “somebody will always be complaining.”
Neumann has spent some time with the RV-dwellers and said, “There are all kinds of people that have respectfully been living there. People keep their vehicles kept and orderly.”
Organizations mentioned/involved: East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC)