CARLSBAD — Introduced at the Jan. 29 City Council meeting, the proposed recreational vehicle ordinance has garnered a wave of passionate responses, including more than 125 written comments submitted to the city.
Most of the public comments at the City Council meeting and several of the written comments alleged that the ordinance was a means of pushing homeless people who live in their RVs out of Carlsbad.
The introduced ordinance would ban parking oversized vehicles between 2 and 5 a.m. on public streets within Carlsbad, except for residents and businesses that obtain free, temporary permits from the city.
City officials repeatedly emphasized that Carlsbad’s municipal code has prohibited people from camping in their vehicles on city property since 2000.
“This isn’t a homeless issue. This is an oversize vehicle restriction,” said Bryan Jones, Carlsbad’s deputy transportation director.
Debbie Fountain, the city’s director of Housing and Neighborhood Services, also presented on the city’s homeless services, highlighting that they provide case management services that can help people find more permanent housing and jobs.
“I think they do have other options though, and that’s what we were trying to get across to them. We know they have chosen to live in their RVs, but there are other options,” Fountain said.
About a dozen people remained agitated and argued that homeless people should be allowed to live in RVs parked on city streets.
“I don’t want to be a nuisance,” said one man, asking for City Council to consider allowing homeless people to park in designated areas.
He said he has been living in his RV since the recession made it difficult for him to find carpentry work. He claimed that he moves his RV every 72 hours, as is required under current city laws, and never parks in front of residences.
“There’s gotta be something we can do,” he said.
Larry Hersh said he is a Vietnam veteran and lives in his RV because he also has difficultly finding work and does not want to live in a shelter.
“I don’t want to be homeless, but I don’t have anywhere to stay,” Hersh said.
As he addressed City Council, Richard Shapiro threatened to sue the city if the ordinance was passed.
Fountain said if people wished to make parking spaces available for those living in their RVs, they should reach out to an established homeless service in North County to make proposals to various cities.
After listening to several homeless people describe why they live in their RVs and plead to be allowed to park in Carlsbad, City Council unanimously approved the ordinance’s introduction.
“I think it’s incumbent upon the City Council to protect the quality of life of those who have worked to get that $1 million, $500,000 home,” said Councilmember Keith Blackburn. “The RV issue is separate from the homeless issue.”
“Although I feel sad about the stories of the homeless tonight, I do support this ordinance,” said Councilmember Farrah Douglas.
Most of the written comments supported the ordinance, citing concerns about how oversized vehicles are unattractive, block streets and may have dangerous people living in them.
The Carlsbad Village Association submitted a letter saying in part: “The parking of RVs on Village streets detracts from the attractiveness and charm of the Village; not to mention they take up two to three passenger vehicle spaces. They provide no value to the Village and could to some extent decrease the value of real estate.”
“I support the ban on RV parking…Carlsbad is already slipping,” said Jane Molina in an emailed comment. “I hope (Carlsbad) doesn’t become another Oceanside or San Marcos.”
The Carlsbad Police receive regular complaints about RVs parked along public streets, particularly along Carlsbad Boulevard and Garfield Street. Law enforcement officials can only enforce current restrictions if people are present in the RV.
In his presentation before City Council, Jones clarified that the ordinance would apply to trailers, boats and semi-trucks.
He also said that the cost of the ordinance would be established after a one-year trial period.
The ordinance will come before City Council for adoption at a future meeting.