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November 19

Police Action in East Palo Alto Displaces RV Dwellers

75 protesters blocked a street in East Palo Alto to protect families at a police action at 8 am on November 15th. A tow truck pulled up to haul away a dozen RV’s occupied mostly by working people, some with children. The RV residents received less than 24 hours notice of an emergency eviction ordinance put in place by the city.

by R. Robertson 
Photo from @Hermit_Hwarang

That same evening many of the protesters and about 200 residents showed up to a Public Works and Transportation Commission meeting to face off with city staff and commissioners. On the agenda: a potential long term or permanent ordinance on RV parking on Weeks Street and a ban on all oversized vehicles on city streets. Many in attendance at the meeting said it is the city’s responsibility to fix the housing cost problem that gentrification created. They made the point that there is nowhere to live but in RV’s and cars since rents are rising beyond affordability. The meeting ran late with more than 40 speakers airing grievances.

City staff and members of the Public Works and Transportation Committee said that they commandeered people’s homes and closed the street because of health and safety concerns. They feared human waste dumped by RV residents would clog drains and said that they acted in advance of a San Francisco Bay Area wide rainstorm predicted for the morning of November 16.

Housing advocates responded saying that resources should be identified to help those in need with dump fees (which run around $30) or by providing inexpensive waste services. They said city staff should not refer to all RV owners as polluters. Locations should be identified for RV parking with available restrooms; RV residents should receive support from the city in the form of off-street locations where they can receive basic services.

The city of East Palo Alto was incorporated in 1983 from an unincorporated part of San Mateo County, previously called Ravenswood. In April 1988, voters adopted the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance to protect residential tenants in the City from unreasonable rent increases and to protect tenants from arbitrary, discriminatory or retaliatory evictions. But the tech boom raised the cost of living and especially the cost of housing, jetting a city that was was established with high hopes for a just and equal local government into an era of a previously unimaginable divide.

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The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay) is a non-commercial, democratic collective of bay area independent media makers and media outlets, and serves as the local organizing unit of the global Indymedia network.

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