Berkeley City Council voted to repeal a 1970 ordinance that prohibits anyone from residing in a vehicle within city limits, as well as a 2019 ordinance prohibiting overnight parking of RVs or campers in its Tuesday meeting.
Item 33, which repeals Ordinance 7643-NS and chapter 12.76 of the Berkeley Municipal Code, was moved to the consent calendar along with Item 8, which reserves $8.5 million in funding to support a future Homekey project. Both items were approved.
City Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani gave an update about the Homekey project during the meeting.
“We are getting close to reaching occupancy for the Homekey site that we have already received funding for at the Golden Bear Inn,” Kesarwani said in the meeting. “We know that permanent supportive housing is the solution to homelessness.”
During public comment, community member Ali Kashani thanked the council for moving forward with funding efforts for the Golden Bear Inn. Kashani noted the Golden Bear Inn already received $16 million for the project and that they have been working with the city to provide immediate housing to 44 chronically houseless individuals on a short deadline.
Kashani added the city should better streamline this process.
“We really appreciate your consideration of making some changes to the city’s loan program and loan documents to streamline the process we go through,” Kashani said at the meeting. “It’s been very challenging to get contractors to bid on a small rehab project, when the loan documents in the city process require extensive outreach and union labor.”
The city’s oversize vehicle overnight parking ban was amended in 2019 to prohibit overnight parking of RVs or campers, according to the meeting agenda. However, it has never been enforced.
Following public comment, in which some community members voiced concerns about the council’s alleged lack of discussion regarding Item 33, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín advocated for the measure.
“It does not prohibit the city from enforcing other applicable laws around parking and traffic,” Arreguín said at the meeting. “In fact, the city has enforced those laws in the past where people park for excessive periods of time, or other parking or traffic regulations.”
Vice Mayor Kate Harrison also spoke on Item 33, noting that she and others had voted against the ordinance.
Harrison added the end of the ordinance is a step in the right direction.
“A third of our unhoused population lives in a vehicle in Berkeley,” Harrison said at the meeting. “At the same time, we have set priorities for enforcement and health and safety and avoiding concentration of RVs. But I hope putting this ordinance behind us, which we never implemented, will allow us to focus on real solutions of finding safe parking sites.”