Two Alameda County lawmakers are endorsing a pilot program for safe and legal places for unhoused residents to park their recreational vehicles.

Supervisor David Haubert and Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan jointly announced the proposal that calls for up to 10 parking sites for recreational vehicles on city-owned or county-owned land with at least one site in each of the county’s supervisorial districts.

“There is such an identified need,” Kimberly Jones of Kaplan’s office said in an interview. “It’s an issue that can’t be ignored.”

Jones said Oakland itself has a great deal of need and the county has a lot of resources to address homelessness.

But she cautioned that money is needed to pay for the pilot program and that’s a little complicated.

While state and federal funds are available to address homelessness, money isn’t earmarked for the RV issue, she said.

“There is such an identified need. It’s an issue that can’t be ignored.”

Kimberly Jones, spokesperson for Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan

A major challenge the lawmakers want to address is sanitation. Without sites specifically for RV parking, plumbing, sewage removal and sanitation in general are problems.

Those three things pose a health concern for the county, the lawmakers said.

The proposal calls for onsite management at each sanctioned RV park to be sure, among other things, that trash and sewage are handled properly.

A city-county collaboration on the issue is important because RVs move around the county, including in unincorporated areas.

Haubert and Kaplan suggested in a letter to the public and their colleagues that unhoused residents in RVs pay for use of the proposed sites on a sliding scale based on income.

To help the residents resume normal lives, services such as the opportunity to sign up for Medi-Cal and job programs could be brought to the RV sites.

The two lawmakers also suggested as part of the pilot, that each jurisdiction where a site is located provide a local match in terms of land, personnel and/or funding.

Work, health, and vehicle-repair programs may be available at the sites. Places to dump sewage may be at each RV site or at another location.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.