By BREA JONES - Staff Intern ChicoER.com
Chico vacationers may have to find a new spot to park their recreational vehicles off city streets if some residents and city officials get their way.... "Don't make the city street into your storage facility," said Chicoan Brooks Taylor.
Taylor spearheaded the move to restrict parking recreational vehicles on city streets by writing a letter to the City Council.
Community Development Director Tony Baptiste said the city allows recreational vehicles to be parked on city streets as long as they are registered and legally parked.
The Internal Affairs Committee has taken up the issue and plans to host a public meeting in the next couple of months, probably by September, Baptiste said.
Scott Armstrong, code enforcement officer for the city, said he gets about five complaints a week about recreational vehicles parked on residential streets. But Chico has no code to deal with parked motor homes, boats and trailers on city streets.
"I wish we had a code that dealt with that," he said.
The problem is heightened in the summer when people get their boats and recreational vehicles out and leave them in the street between uses, Armstrong said.
A number of Northern California cities do have ordinances that limit or ban parking recreational vehicles on streets, he said.
In Auburn, no one can park any trailer, motorhome or recreational vehicle for more than four hours on a residential street. When loading and unloading, the vehicles may be parked for a total of 24 hours, according to the traffic code.
But Chico trailer owner Dewey Camp said restrictions like that would limit his ability to do things with his family.
"I would probably have to move," he said.
Camp has three sons, and the family uses their trailer, which houses all-terrain vehicles, every other weekend.
One son, Jake, said before his family got the trailer, he and his brothers had to sleep in tents on their frequent trips to the sand dunes.
"You can fit six people in there," said the 7-year-old as he climbed into the 30-foot trailer parked in front of his house on Kern Street.
Since the family uses the trailer frequently, Camp said they store ATVs and food in the trailer.
"It's our second home," he said.
The 2005 trailer isn't an eyesore, and storing it elsewhere is expensive, Camp said.
The Almond Tree RV Park stores trailers 10 years or newer for $45 a month, but there were no spaces available Wednesday, attendant Kathy Hunter said.
"It's convenient," she said. "People like it."
Camp said there isn't enough room in storage facilities like Almond Tree to fit all of Chico's recreational vehicles if the city decides to limit parking them on city streets.
"What's the city going to do?" he asked. "Where are they going to put all of these?"
Neighbors Brooks Taylor and Susan Parsons wrote letters to the Chico City Council in May requesting the council address the issue of trailers and recreational vehicles on residential streets. Three trailers were parked on Kern Street Tuesday.
Taylor doesn't support a law like Auburn's, which allows only four hours to park a vehicle on the street, he said.
"You need a couple of days when you're unloading," he said. "I have no problem with that."
Taylor is in favor of limiting parking to about three days, he said.
Parsons lives down the street from Camp, she said. The trailer is a hazard and makes it difficult to see kids riding bikes and cars coming toward her.
"I have to be real careful in backing out that I'm not going to be backing into somebody," she said.
Like Taylor, Parsons doesn't want trailers banned from the streets. She said there should be time limits, like 36 hours, to load and unload trailers.
"I don't have anything against trailers being on the street," she said, "if they're getting ready to go on a trip."
When driving throughout Chico, sometimes streets become one lane because trailers line the street on both sides, Parsons said.
"It's becoming a problem all over Chico," she said.
Chico police Sgt. Linda Dye said there is an ordinance that people cannot park a vehicle for more than seven days in one place. But that is to allow the police to remove abandoned, unregistered vehicles, she said.
If the vehicle is parked legally, the police can't do much except talk to the owner.
"All we can do is contact them and let them know about the complaints," she said.
There are regulations about size.
Anything wider than 110 inches, more than 9 feet, is considered blocking the street, Dye said. Camp's trailer is 102 inches wide.
"The No. 1 thing we tell people is, 'You need to talk to your neighbor'," she said. "Properly, of course."
Dye has gotten many complaints about a trailer parked under the overpass on Fifth Avenue.
But owner Victor Garcia said no one complained to him about the trailer, which has been parked under the overpass for two or three months.
"I live in an apartment," he said, motioning to the small parking lot meant to house cars for the complex. "There's no place to put it."
Garcia will use the trailer to move to Mexico City next year, and he had no place to store it.
But Garcia plans to move the empty, metal trailer to a relative's house soon.
"I know it's a problem there."
Staff Intern Brea Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BACKGROUND: Chico residents call the city and the police regularly to complain about recreation vehicles and trailers on residential streets.
WHAT'S NEW: Some residents have asked the City Council to take action, citing other cities with strict codes for parking recreational vehicles.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Internal Affairs Committee will host a public meeting in the next couple of months to get opinions on parking recreational vehicles on city streets.
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