People of Richmond: Is it time to create a safe parking area for people who live in RVs?
on October 4, 2022
“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity.
Q: Should Richmond create an RV parking area for people who live in vehicles? And if so, where?
“Absolutely, there should be designated areas for people that have no choice but to live in their vehicles due to housing crises and the unavailability of places for people to rent, and the high cost of renting.
Wherever there are a lot of homeless people living in vehicles, wherever it is in Richmond, they should create RV parking.” (Julia Leonard)
“No … there are not enough parking lots in Richmond, and vehicles park on the streets, which is unacceptable.
Instead of creating parking, they should find houses and support them to live in houses. They live in vehicles and make garbage around the area, and the city looks ugly.” (Relle Puace, construction worker)
“Having a place where folks can come and camp or RV, especially in Richmond where rent is so high, most of our folks are working-class people, it is important to have that space for them. There are a bunch of buildings that are empty that aren’t being used, that big property management companies own and are just sitting there. If there was a place where folks can come together, have showers and basic plumbing.”(Katherine Lee, youth organizer, Asiin Pacific Environmental Network)
“It would be nice to see [the unhoused] in some form of center, or those big old buildings that have been built by those companies. Can we just have a commons for them, somewhere where they can live freely, have clean water and electricity? When I drive, I think, that’s so sad, look at this big open space, this big building that nobody is going to occupy. Why can’t they be there, somewhere safe?”(Christina Saeteurn, operations associate, Asian Pacific Environmental Network)
“It’s hard to help them when they don’t want to have rules. They need a place where they can form their own community. We want to help, but then it’s hard to do it when they don’t listen.” (Edwin Cuevas)
“I think it’s a stop gap measure. I don’t see any problem with it if there’s a longer terms plan. But to leave people indefinitely in a transitory state — I don’t know, it depends on the plan. There are some specifics that I would want to know before I went all in. But generally the idea is right. Where exactly? There are a lot of places by the train tracks where people are already camped out. If they can plug into those existing communities instead of displacing them, that would be ideal. But that’s not a very good quality of life. No one is going to find jobs there.(Daniel Westcott)
“Everyone living in this situation has basic needs that need to be met.
For example, how do you get showered everyday or how do you deal with the waste you create in your day to day life, or how do you live in a decent way? A facility like that, that can help people out, with public bathrooms that are maintained very well, would be ideal.” (Na Li, engineer)
“The city needs to figure out the empty lots of undeveloped land so that we can allow RV parks and car parks and mini tents, and provide social services in one place and management services in one place.
And they need to be for only the citizens of Richmond. In addition to that, there needs to be a global tracking mechanism of all the encampments citywide, and all the social services fundings all need to be feeding into a global website.” (Margarita Mitas, president of the Marina Bay Neighborhood Council)
“There should be RV parking areas for these people because they will have a space to live and will not become a nuisance to those who have homes. The city should be clean and more organized. They have to find places for them.”(Sergio Barragan, barber)
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We have numerous sites that could accommodate unhoused persons without being a nuisance to the neighboring communities but there always seems to be person(s) who can find reasons why these would not work.
For instance, between Target and the Court House, there’s an abandoned County building that might be renovated inside to house persons during the cold and wet months ahead. The parking lot could accommodate as many vehicles as Rydin Road had at its peak. It’s in a commercial area so there wouldn’t be residents nearby to complain.
This was brought to the attention of our County Supervisor but he explained that the County had plans for that site.
Since this was first brought up well over a year ago, and the property is still empty, I ask again: can this site be repurposed (even if only temporarily)?
We all see other such sites around town.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Robert Kennedy who was paraphrasing the playwright George Bernard Shaw. “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”