Days are numbered for RVs parked along Marina Boulevard

Friday, May 18, 2018

Berkeleyside – By Natalie Orenstein

For the second time in as many months, the city has told the inhabitants of RVs parked at the Berkeley Marina to clear out.

This time, notices posted by the row of vehicles along Marina Boulevard instruct the campers to get on the road before a May 28-June 1 construction project.

“The plan is to create structured parking in that area” to “more effectively use that space and reduce overnight parking,” said city spokesman Matthai Chakko on Wednesday. The city plans to install k-rails, to turn the currently open parking area into a row of parking spaces large enough for cars but too small for RVs, he said.

While the RV dwellers say they keep to themselves and just need a place to live, Chakko said the parking structure is the city’s final attempt of many, over months, to address repeated health and safety complaints connected to the long-term camping.

In early April as well, Berkeley police gave red warning notices to the RV inhabitants, explaining that they were violating a city law prohibiting street parking in one place for more than 72 hours. The notices warned the campers they could be towed, but the city hasn’t followed through on that threat, Chakko said.

“Our approach has been to be patient, consistent and clear,” he said. “We’ve sent staff to try to connect them to services.” The city hired new private security, increased waterfront staff, and ramped up garbage pick-up to address issues at the Marina, to little or no avail, Chakko has said.

“We’ve had break-ins of cars. Visitors and staff have been physically assaulted and verbally threatened. Those who have berths at the Marina reported multiple and increasing numbers of altercations and threats — particularly from people living in these vehicles,” Chakko told Berkeleyside in April.

Restaurants and hotels in the area have also told the city their customers are complaining about the overnight campers. The long row of RVs is across from the DoubleTree Hotel, whose general manager recently addressed the City Council with his concerns.

But residents of the trailers, many who have been parked along the east side of Marina Boulevard for months, say they stay amongst themselves, not bothering other people. Some say they use far fewer city resources, and pose less of a health risk to both themselves and other residents, than they would if they had to live on the streets.

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