The city of Berkeley is no different than dozens of other urban areas as they wrestle with the growing homeless RV dweller problem. The city has repeatedly cleared out a large RV camp at the Berkeley Marina, sparking a wave of complaints from the RVers, and has said it wants to find a permanent location for the RVs to park, reports Berkleyside.
But on Tuesday night, Kirsten MacDonald of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce said there are now more than 70 RVs in northwest Berkeley and “A permitting system needs to be put in place so one district doesn’t get the brunt of an entire community descending upon their streets.” It is unclear how permitting could resolve the problem.
Members of the camp said they have nowhere else to go, and that the city needs to step up. “Trying to deny that you have a native homeless population, who dares to shelter ourselves in vehicles and/or trying to legislate us into nearby cities is not the way to show voters or your neighbors that you are serious about ending homelessness,” said longtime Berkeley resident and homeless activist Amber Lynn Whitson in an email to council this week.
Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office put forward the proposal to ask the city to “look into how other cities use permitting to manage RV parking and suggest a permit process that Council can consider to enable RV parking but place some sensible limits.” The proposal describes Antioch’s permit program as one possible approach, and “requests consideration of a 2-week permit.”
The Chamber said it has received a range of complaints from local businesses due to deteriorating conditions in the neighborhood: “Such negative impacts include making parking spots rare for employees and residents, waste containers getting poured down storm drains, evidence of campers urinating and defecating on public sidewalks and/or private property, and feeling unsafe around campers who are exhibiting mentally ill or otherwise aggressive behaviors.”
Members of the business community who spoke said they support the concept of a sanctioned encampment – but said it needs to be located somewhere else.