What is Safe Parking?
“Safe parking” is a program that gives a temporary, overnight, safe location to park for individuals and families living in a vehicle while providing access to services that will transition them into more stable housing. The goal of Safe Parking is to offer stability — a reliable transition space for program participants as they work through challenging times and make the changes needed to move toward being rehoused and, where applicable, reemployed.
how it works
- Private lot owners agree to help people in need by allowing use of their lot between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.
- A Safe Parking Operator (such as MOVE) manages the lot, reviews and interviews applicants, links applicants with social services, and provides limited liability coverage.
- Individuals living in their cars or RVs apply through the Community Services Agency (CSA) to be able to stay in the lot overnight.
- Social services work with the Safe Parking participants to provide case management services and get them back on the path to more stable housing.
- NOTE: County-run lots are permitted to operate 24/7 during the COVID-19 emergency declaration.
WHERE ARE MOUNTAIN VIEW'S SAFE PARKING LOCATIONS?
Safe Parking Program lots in Mountain View currently include:
- Private Lots
- St. Timothy's Episcopal Church (opened July 2018) - hosts up to 4 passenger vehicles
- Lord's Grace Christian Church (opened July 2018) - hosts up to 4 passenger vehicles
- 1020 Terra Bella Ave. - Alta Housing Lot (open) - hosts up to 8 oversized vehicles and 1 passenger vehicle
- County-operated lots (City-owned)
- Pioneer Way and Evelyn Avenue - former VTA transit lot (open) - hosts up to 30 oversized vehicles including two ADA spots and up to 21 passenger vehicles (plus 15 adjacent commuter passenger vehicle spots)
- Shoreline Amphitheatre Parking Lot B (open) - hosts up to 29 oversized vehicles including two ADA spots and 4 passenger vehicles (plus 15 adjacent commuter passenger vehicle spots at Dog Park in off hours)
How Can I Host Safe Parking?
To offer space for Safe Parking on your property, you are willing to host pre-interviewed applicants by providing an existing parking lot, agree to comply with City health and safety requirements, and complete a permit application. Highlights of this process are summarized below:
- The City Council adopted a safe parking ordinance that is effective as of November 22, 2019. All safe parking lots need to comply with this ordinance. The provisions of this ordinance are intended to help ensure safe parking facilities are compatible with surrounding uses, and are effective at facilitating participants’ transition to permanent housing, and meet basic health and safety requirements.
- When a Shelter Declaration is declared in the City of Mountain View (currently in effect until June 30, 2021 or 30 days after the end of the emergency declaration), property owners may choose to host a Safe Parking Program by applying for a Police Department permit. The permit process includes a helpful checklist on the requirements.
- Essential requirements include: 1) a contract with a qualified Safe Parking Operator to administer the lot and insure the program while it operates on the lot; and 2) a case management services provider to facilitate the transition to permanent housing.
- The property owner can coordinate with a qualified Safe Parking Operator to meet the requirements of the City Code. The requirements are discussed in more detail here:
Download the Permit Application Checklist, which includes all safety code requirements.
Download the Safe Parking Program Workflow (what steps happen and when).
Download the Application to host a Safe Parking Program at your site.
How Can I Become a Safe Parking OPERATOR?
Or, for lot owners, what do Safe Parking Operators Bring to your lot?
Qualified Safe Parking Programs generally include, but are not limited to, the following procedures and processes:
- Provide Safe Parking on privately owned property from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m.
- Provide an available portable restrooms with a hand-wash station and fire prevention measures.
- Subcontract with a social service agency to interview applicants, recommend clients based on program participation preferences and provide case management services to get back on the path to supportive permanent housing.
- Comply with all safety regulations and other program provisions.
- Provide lot monitors who perform check in and out procedures and ensure all clients observe program guidelines.
- Comply with City ordinances, including client priority and preferences, maintaining a wait list, land-use requirements, public safety procedures, etc.
- Provide limited liability coverage.
Top 10 Facts and FAQs
- Safe Parking programs offer stability for homeless individuals and families living in a vehicle in the form of a reliable transition space and services for participants as they work through challenging times and make the changes needed to move toward being rehoused and, where applicable, reemployed. A structure is not offered, but stability is, and data on existing programs show participant appreciation of having a safe, consistent place to sleep makes complying with program rules easy.
- Safe Parking is not for transient workers or professionals who choose “living in their cars to save money.”
- Safe Parking Programs are similar to traditional sheltering which offers supportive services to participants and meet safety standards. There is no structure. Safe Parking ensures participants served are safe, and the impacts on the host property and surrounding neighborhood are limited.
- Safe Parking Programs are a relatively new policy approach in response to the housing crisis. They are being implemented in a number of places around the County and State, but are mostly modest in scale to date. Further, Mountain View City-lot programs focused on RV guests are newer still.
- Safe Parking Programs show approximately 30-50% of participants (data mostly on passenger cars) are able to obtain interim or permanent housing as their next step after Safe Parking. While the data is still limited due to how new the programs are, this early evidence from Santa Clara County shows promise.
- Safe Parking funding for up to 100 parking space participants has been committed by the City. While there is no funding to pay or lease lot owners for their parking lots at this time, the City is committed to streamlining the process and keeping it as inexpensive and easy as possible for lot owners to contribute to this urgent humanitarian need, while remaining safe and compliant with state and local regulations.
- Safe Parking Operator staff will be available to address any concerns. The local non-profit MOVE, operates the Lots of Love – Safe parking Program and can be reached at (650) 935-1141 or firstname.lastname@example.org (to report non-urgent, non-threatening situations).
- Safe Parking Case Managers from the Community Services Agency (CSA) at: CSACares.org or (650) 968-0836. will help clients navigate job and housing searches and transportation.
- Safe Parking participants will be referred only when there is parking space, so that they know they have a stable place to stay. Interested applicants may not just drive to the location and park. To be respectful to our neighbors, no loitering will be allowed outside the gated Safe Parking Program area, and no smoking will be allowed in public areas.
- Additional Ways to Help: Safe Parking helpers are needed. For those wanting to help, there will be opportunities for community members who wish to volunteer. Donations are also needed to help participants, including: vehicle repair, routine RV maintenance, gas cards, vehicles insurance, driver’s license fees, food pantry items, hygiene products; blankets, winter coats, socks, pet-veterinarian support, and toilet paper are always needed. All donations should be made through the CSA (See #8 for contact information).
How Do I Contact the City if I Have More Questions?
For assistance, email SafeParking@mountainview.gov or call Assistant to the City Manager, Kimberly Thomas, at (650) 903-6301.