Earlier this week, on Mayor Rich Tran’s Facebook page, the Mayor posted that the “abandoned, inoperable, and unregistered” vehicles parked behind Milpitas Library were being given notice by the Milpitas Police Department (MPD) to move or risk being towed in another 72 hours.
The Mayor’s post and plans come in the midst of an active discussion on homelessness in Milpitas, during which the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley advised the City of Milpitas that its planned sweeps of homeless encampments were unconstitutional and the City’s homelessness task force provided recommendations to the Milpitas City Council. Last week, Councilmember Karina Dominguez headed up a sleep-out outside of Milpitas City Hall to draw attention to the plight of the city’s homeless residents.
In an email exchange with The Beat, when asked what the City would do to help the unhoused residents whose cars will be towed, Assistant City Manager Ashwini Kantak wrote, “The issues that cause homelessness are complex. The City’s role is to balance the rights of those who are homeless with the need to ensure proper safety, hygiene, and impact on the entire community – and strictly enforce City laws.
“While we don’t yet have a long-term solution to this challenging issue, we continue to explore finding a permanent location that provides ongoing shelter and services. We aren’t facing the issue alone; we’re partnering with the County and other agencies, but there is no simple solution. We recognize the frustration caused by citing and towing vehicles parked illegally, but it is the City’s responsibility to prevent the significant environmental and health damage caused by unsafe living conditions.”
In a follow-up Facebook post, Tran specified that 19 vehicles on Railroad Avenue and 10 vehicles on Hammond Way had been given notice, and that the towing process will begin on Saturday, March 12.
Many residents commented on the follow-up post, with one commenter writing, “My foster son lived in one of those RVs before he moved in with me. Those are people’s homes, and most of those people have no other options, especially since most housing projects have long wait lists. These areas are not residential, and most of the people living there are minding their own business and simply trying to survive. There are other ways to solve our problems without towing away people’s homes. I bet if you created a legal parking area with access to restrooms, people would move their vehicles to that space.”
In response, Tran wrote, “There’s been complaints from Curtner Estates, Marylin HOA, and Images neighborhoods. Yelling and screaming late at night. Feces on lawns. Police responses for different things. It was about time to enforce vehicle code, especially for abandoned/inoperable/unregistered vehicles. Been working on this issue since last year.”
Hope for the Unhoused’s (H4U) Yolie Garcia shared with The Beat that “a better solution would be for the City to establish a safe parking area, which we’ve requested for the last 2 years and on our wishlist. Barring that, if the City would at least work with us to help. We can take some time to get vehicle repairs done — we have a detailed list for all vehicles on Railroad Ave and Hammond way. We would also like to help with vehicle registration costs.”
Garcia also mentioned that the City halted their planned March 1 sweep of homeless encampments after she and H4U had the Silicon Valley Law Foundation intervene.
Garcia added, “When that didn’t work, [the City] used whatever means to now do tomorrow’s fines/towing which is within the broad sense of the law. I believe the Mayor and City are trying to appease the NIMBYs and his ‘base.’ The Mayor is always talking about #MilpitasFamily but that seems to mean families living in homes or with a roof over their head.”
On FB, Mayor Rich Tran posted the flier shared below to specify how the City can assist its homeless residents. In a response to a request for comment over text, the Mayor wrote to The Beat, “Folks in need will have to make decisions based on existing resources.”