Jessica Cejnar / Friday, May 15 @ 6:43 p.m. / Business, Local Government
Crescent City's Proposed Policies Regarding RV Living on Residential Property Go Back to Staff
Two realtors and a commercial property owner were among those opposing a proposal that would allow people to live in RVs parked on residential properties.
Following their argument that such a policy would contribute to blight, the Crescent City Council asked staff Monday to seek more public input and address the issue of accessory dwelling units such as granny flats and backyard cottages first.
“By no means do I want to be encouraging someone to be living in an RV,” said Mayor Pro Tem Heidi Kime. “I do believe RVs should be in RV parks, but if it’s on your property for storage that’s an entirely different conversation.”
In April, the City Council considered proposed policies governing both short-term and long-term parking of recreational vehicles on residential properties.
Councilors had taken issue with a proposed requirement that RVs parked on residential properties for more than 90 days would have to be connected to water, sewer and electricity.
On Monday, staff asked the Council to weigh in on a policy that would have allowed RVs on residential properties for up to 90 days.
According to Public Works Director Jon Olson, the proposed policy would have allowed residents to park an RV on their property in a side-yard provided they have adequate space. They could shelter the RV under a permanent structure or have a fitted cover, Olson said.
“We envision this as a simple over-the-counter permit, much like the seven-day permit we’re issuing for folks parking on the street,” Olson said. “For that short-term parking for oversize vehicles, it would be similar, except this is applicable to private property.”
The Crescent City Planning Commission and the City Council began exploring ordinances related to camping and the parking of over-sized vehicles on city streets roughly a year ago, according to City Manager Eric Wier.
According to City Attorney Martha Rice, though the Council was asked to address a short-term permit for someone to stay in an RV on residential property, an ordinance governing accessory dwelling units is a longer discussion.
“It will be quite some time before that ordinance likely comes back,” she said. “It occurred to us that this may be more timely to consider now, especially with economic conditions.”
During public comment, realtors Temple Buchanan and Jacqueline Cochran and Tony Barnes, owner of TAB & Associates Inc., argued that allowing people to live in RVs outside a park would contribute to blight.
Cochran, who owns a six-unit apartment building in Crescent City, said the people living in a neighboring home allowed another family to move into a fifth-wheel trailer with pop-outs. That family fenced the RV and moved their two dogs onto the property, Cochran said.
“The people that owned the house already had several dogs and the dogs barked consistently,” she said. “Trash was all over the yard. Finally, with the help of the city and police department, the people moved the RV out — this problem wen ton for several months. After they moved out, they left their dogs and all of their debris, which I think is still there.”
Cochran argued that if the city needs to assist people looking for a place to live in an emergency, they should let the RV owner park their vehicle at the city’s RV park.
Barnes, who emailed an “open letter” to the City Council on Monday, argued that the proposed ordinance conflicts with the city’s general plan, which includes zoning areas for businesses as well as a “government professional core” in the downtown area. He said the ordinance would deter business owners from setting up shop in those areas.
“It would not be in the best interest for a business to spend a large amount of capital opening a new business only to have its neighboring properties covered in recreational vehicles that are unsightly and deter customers and tourists from the area,” Barnes wrote. “This will also impact the ability of existing business owners already struggling to attract customers to its stores in the era of online shopping.”
Though he said he doesn’t think the housing crisis should be solved by adding private trailers on existing residential parcels, city resident Kenyon Hensel said they’re quick and economical.
Hensel said he had to move a disabled cousin onto his property last year and noted there’s a difference between family providing a roof over the head of a loved one in crisis and someone who’s hoping to profit by adding a rental to their property.
“I do not believe we have seen the full extent of the looming homeless crisis,” Hensel said, adding that his family couldn’t afford moving his cousin to an RV park. “With landlords not being paid rent and a large group of people out of work who may be facing balloon payments in the coming months, we may see an even greater number of homeless in the future.”
Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore, who addressed the issue of accessory dwelling units at the Council’s April 6 meeting, said he didn’t want RVs to be considered a “de facto ADU.” The state’s guidelines for accessory dwelling units are broad, he said, but he feels the city’s definition should be more restricted. This includes potential requirements for permits and utilities, he said.
Inscore urged staff to continue to allow the public to weigh in on the issue before bringing it back to the City Council.