SOLANA BEACH — New rules for parking recreational vehicles on public property were deemed too restrictive and sent back for revisions at the April 8 meeting.
Council members first addressed the issue March 11 after staff members reported a significant increase in complaints during the past six months from residents who say the vehicles are eyesores that take up parking spaces and pose safety hazards because they are difficult to see and maneuver around.
The city code currently allows motor homes and campers to be parked on public streets and in public parking lots for no more than 24 consecutive hours.
Based on regulations adopted by nearby cities, staff proposed several changes to the existing rules.
RV parking would be limited to no more than four hours in a 24-hour period without a permit, which would be available at no cost and valid for four days.
Residents would have been required to apply for a permit online at least five days before it would be issued and it pick it up at City Hall.
Vehicles without a valid permit would receive a one-time warning that includes an explanation of the permit process. Owners would have one day to obtain one.
The proposed new rules limited RV parking to the same block on which the resident lives and at least 100 feet from an intersection.
Parking would be prohibited in public lots between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Vehicles less than 22 feet long and 7 feet high would be exempt from the new rules.
Councilman Mike Nichols had concerns about many of the proposed changes. He said people should be allowed to park the vehicles for eight to 12 hours, not four, so they have ample time to load or unload them for a trip.
He said people pack their RVs the night before leaving. He also said the vehicles should be allowed to remain parked for at least seven consecutive days, not four.
“If somebody comes to visit you for a week, if they’re from out of town they can stay through the permit process,” he said.
Since the size of some city blocks are relatively short and could vary, council members agreed RVs should be parked within 600 feet — 300 feet either way — from the owner’s residence and 50 feet from an intersection rather than the proposed 100 feet.
“I like that there’s no cost,” Nichols said of the permit. But he added that people should be able to complete the form and print it at home.
“If it’s not easy people won’t do it,” he said, noting that forcing residents to pick it up at City Hall is inconvenient and having a staff member deliver it is a bad use of city resources.
He said the process must be instant and require no human contact.
“If we can buy airplane tickets online and we can do everything else online it seems like we can be able to figure out a way to do a permit online,” Nichols said.
City Manager David Ott said the process was created to keep people from “gaming the system” or forging permits, adding that he would work on improvements.
“There’s probably nothing perfect,” he said.
Councilman David Zito agreed with many of Nichols’ suggestions.
“The idea here is to catch the abusers, and I think we can easily do longer days and still be able to catch the people that are just basically using the street as their personal storage location,” he said.
“I don’t personally like to over-regulate when not necessary, but the problem that I think we have with our current ordinance is that it’s proven to be nonenforceable,” Zito added.
The city received seven emails, five of which support the changes.
“The RVs have been a serious issue for us as they block our view when exiting our property,” Kathy Dunn, the principal at St. James Academy on Nardo Avenue, wrote. “Parents have recently also expressed safety concerns in light of the Skyline kidnap scare. I encourage any action to prevent these safety concerns.”
Kerily McEvoy, who lives on Nardo and attends St. James Catholic Church, echoed many of the same concerns.
“Nardo is a busy enough street without people using it as free storage,” McEvoy wrote. “It makes the street unsightly … and can be dangerous. I have seen near accidents as people move to the center to go around the RVs.”
Jane Morton agreed with council members that the proposed rules were too restrictive. She noted the four-day maximum for visiting guests “is hardly time to say hello!”
The draft ordinance was presented for a first reading but because council recommended several changes, it will be revised and presented again at a future meeting.
If approved, it will be returned for adoption at a second reading and become effective 30 days after that.