Vocal opposition to San Jose Temporary RV Park for the Homeless
SAN JOSE, California – A new camper van parking site in San Jose is operational, but not without strong opposition from neighbors. Residents of the northern district of San Jose demonstrated all day Tuesday. Up to six campers will stay overnight.
As security checks RVs in the Vista Montana parking lot in North San Jose on Tuesday night, campers encountered dozens of disgruntled neighbors.
“It’s the worst possible situation as a mother with very young children,” said Shprese Head of San Jose.
Many protesters live in nearby townhouses. City-owned land is considered a safe space for cars and RVs. The lot shares a wall with two play areas.
“I am concerned for the safety of my children,” Head said. “I’m afraid they are stepping on a bad needle.”
“Stop torturing the people who are going to be living on the site with the loud protests, they already feel unwanted,” said Andrea Urton, CEO of HomeFirst.
Much of the contention between the city of San José and its neighbors concerns communication and timing.
The City of San Jose was in the process of relocating campers from another lot along Apple-owned Component Drive.
Neighbors felt like they were left in the dark. They directed their anger at their city councilor David Cohen.
“It’s a standard reaction. It’s no surprise that people acted this way,” Cohen said.
Cohen points out the limited number of campers in the lot for a limited time.
“From what I understood, five people potentially accepted the offer to move, so the maximum number was between five and nine,” Cohen said.
“For me, it’s fear,” said Urton. “People are afraid of what they expect to happen, what they don’t know will happen.”
Urton said the non-profit organization is helping with services such as case management and drug treatment. KTVU spoke to RV camper Steve Perez.
“They could walk in my place tomorrow, they could be homeless people living in an RV or maybe they’ll be unlucky, maybe they’ll live in their car, so what” , said Perez.
Those who live in the area want long term solutions and the city to stop relocating campers. Instead, they want the city to build affordable low income housing.
“It’s going to take years and in the meantime we need a multitude of solutions,” said Urton.
Neighbors said they plan to continue fighting.
“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to keep our community safe,” Head said.
The councilor hopes residents’ initial anger will subside once they see that this is not a large campsite. Cohen was very adamant it will not be a permanent location.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.