Richmond puts brakes on Safe RV Parking Program

Richmond puts brakes on Safe RV Parking Program
RV parked on a city street. (Photo by Mike Kinney)

Richmond City Council has put the skids on a plan to establish a Safe Parking Pilot Program for the city’s growing number of RV dwellers.

The City Council had previously planned to use a state grant and city funds totaling over $500,000 to establish a sanctioned RV parking program in the Hilltop Mall parking lot.  The council later changed their minds following neighbor opposition, deciding instead to locate the program in the parking lot of the Richmond Civic Center. That plan was also met with community opposition.

At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council ultimately decided to scrap the Civic Center plans as well, finding that it would not be able to accommodate enough RVs to solve the city’s problem. Currently, the city is trying to reduce two large RV encampments, on Rydin Road and North Castro Street.

Instead, council voted in favor of Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s proposal to use the funding slated for the Safe Parking Pilot Program to send a team of professionals to address health, sanitation and security issues at the Rydin Road encampment. A County housing navigator will be sent to work with RV dwellers to identify more stable housing opportunities.

A number of existing and upcoming housing opportunities for the homeless in Richmond can become destinations for the RV dwellers, Gioia said. The County’s North Richmond shelter is expected to reopen this summer. The County’s lease to house homeless individuals and families at the Hilltop Courtyard by Marriott during the pandemic will be extended for one year. And officials are working to identify funding to also extend the lease at the Surestay hotel at Cutting and Canal Blvd. that is currently being used to house people who test positive for COVID-19, but would soon transition to housing the homeless who are not positive, Gioia said. The Greater Richmond Interfaith Program shelter is also expected to reopen this summer.

Also on Tuesday, City Council voted to form an ad-hoc committee to assist in developing longterm solutions for RV dwellers with the homeless task force. As part of the task force, the option of hosting a safe park in a non-residential areas will be explored.