Berkeley to consider vehicle dweller park

The Berkeley City Council at its meeting Tuesday will consider a proposal to ask City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to develop a plan to create a “vehicle dweller park” for homeless people that would be similar to an RV park.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin and City Council members Cheryl Davila and Kate Harrison say in their proposal that such a park would provide a place “for people living in their vehicles to stay without fear of harassment, displacement, fines or confiscation of their vehicles and with sanitation and social service support.”

Arreguin, Davila and Harrison say the city would issue permits and collect a fee of between $60 to $150 per month for each vehicle, which is far less than most RV parks.

The proposal calls for identifying a location such as an empty lot or parking lot that is accessible for RVs and buses, is livable and has running water.

Arreguin, Davila and Harrison say in a memo to the council that the fiscal impact of their proposal is unknown but costs include a minimum of two showers, two port-a-potties, a trailer pump-out, garbage receptacles and sanitation services, running water, and staffing for issuing of permits and collection of fees, cleaning and maintaining facilities and developing the project.

The memo said:

“Most do not want to see people removed from their vehicles but would like to see a place for them where support is provided. Living in a vehicle is often safer than living on the street.”

There are an estimated 972 homeless people in Berkeley on any given night and black people are more than twice as likely to be unsheltered than white people, according to Arreguin, Davila and Harrison.

They said:

“This racial injustice is a direct result of decades of housing policy choices that have limited new affordable housing supply and constrained housing access for people of color in Berkeley and the greater Bay Area.”

The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the council’s chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley.