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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beach town struggles with RV parking

Recent news stories reported that the Los Angeles County beach town of Venice is having a problem with RVers camping on the town's streets. One problem cited was that parking, critically short in most Southern California beach towns, deprives residents of parking spaces overnight when beach goers have gone home. The RVs, according to residents, also block views and are an eyesore.

The other problem is much more serious. Residents claim that these RVers are dumping their sewage tanks in gutters along the narrow residential streets, which not only is a disgusting reminder of their visit but also a health hazard. One self-styled resident has made a citizen's arrest of a couple who dumped their sewage tank, and who could be fined as much as $25,000 as well as serve jail time.

The town passed an ordinance with a six-month test, banning oversize vehicles (trucks, vans, buses, and RVs taller than 7 feet) from parking from 2 to 6 am to stop the problem of people living in RVs on the streets. Though I understand how residents feel, who own this very expensive beach property, I also wonder about what lies ahead for RVers if towns and cities are successful in limiting or prohibiting parking to a selected group of people--RVers--because of the reprehensible acts of a few.

This is not the only situation that is painting RVers with a less than favorable impression. With the difficulty of the economic recovery, still more Americans are losing their homes and reverting to living in RVs. Could the unfortunate result of this be that these new RV residents don't think of themselves as RVers, as the rest off us do that have taken up the RV Lifestyle by choice. We RVers would NEVER under any circumstances dump out tanks on a city street--or anywhere else other than a suitable dump station--or leave trash scattered around campsites as some of the newly displaced are reported doing.

The difficulty for responsible RVers is being associated with the irresponsible--or, to be more sensitive to their situation--the disadvantaged or uneducated new RVers. Which also raises the question of what, if anything, should we do? Do we offer "advice" to the offenders, report them to authorities, or ignore it, hoping they will learn or the problem will go away?

Whatever we do--or don't do--will unfortunately affect all RVers in the eyes of the non-RVing public, which could result in even more restrictive laws on where we may or may not park or sleep--whether you have a truck camper or a 40-foot diesel pusher.

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  1. Even drunks don't pee and puke in the doorways if there are public restrooms available. If these towns want people to stop dumping illegally, they should provide effective dump stations. If they want RVers not to park on their street, then use some of their vacant land for a full or partial hookup RV park. Accomodate, don't regulate.

  2. I don't totally disagree with Skylos. In many cases his/her point is a good one. But there are people, RVers and others, who just don't care about courtesy, convention, or the comfort of others. Campers and RVers who have been at it a while have all run into campground "neighbors" who think nothing of maintaining a big fire and lots of noise way into the night. Fortunately, most of us regulate ourselves. Those who don't will ultimately be regulated, perhaps to the detriment of the rest of us.

  3. Some RVers contribute to this by encouraging parking in abandoned lots and store parking lots as a way of saving money while traveling. The displaced may see them and come to the conclusion it is OK to park anywhere. Not all WalMarts even welcome overnighters so how are those not in contact with our community to learn where it is OK and where it isn't?

  4. people need to remember the Key to RV boondocking in populated areas, is DISCRETION ... blend in, be invisible, or don't be there ... personally, I boondock in the boonies !, what a novel idea

  5. And then there are people who SAY that RVs are dumping just to get them banned...

  6. I came across this article merely by chance, and I was surprised to find the picture included to be of the street behind the building where I work. Seeing the RV's and people in them, day in and day out, I promise you these aren't just some disenfranchised people just trying to make due. It's a scary place. I wouldn't walk along this street for anything after dark. It's covered in trash and they let their dogs poop on the sidewalk. They have loud violent fights and scream at people just walking near by. The dumping is just one of the problems, this little makeshift homestead is creating a scary dangerous place in a residental area where people just want to park and go to the beach or shopping. Making room in the city for the less fortunate is one thing, accepting people who have made an area of my neighborhood into somewhere it would be considered unwise to push my stroller by is another thing.

    If the Venice city really did enact these ordinances, it didn't help. I be so bold as to say it didn't even make a blip on these RVer's radar screens.