Those who are accustomed to parking their recreational vehicles (RVs) and oversized vehicles adjacent to their homes on the street will have to find a new place to house those modes of transportation beginning in early 2018, when the City of Long Beach will begin transitioning into a new law that will prohibit the parking of such vehicles on residential roads.
The Long Beach City Council approved a motion in August that would prevent the parking of oversized vehicles on residential streets in the city without a valid permit issued through the City’s Department of Public Works and Traffic Engineering division. RV owners will have the choice to park their vehicles in their driveway or RV-storage facilities.
In an interview with the Signal Tribune on Wednesday, 3rd District Councilmember Suzie Price, who was instrumental in the passing of the ordinance, confirmed the law will come into effect in 2018, adding that her motivation for establishing the parking ban was to improve public health– due to illegal dumping– and visibility.
“We’re one of the largest cities to enact an RV ban, and the reason I believe that’s significant for improvement in our city is that RVs are the subject of a lot of citizen complaints,” Price told the Signal Tribune. “[…] They cause visual blight. They also cause visual obstruction; if they are parked too close to the end of the street, it makes it very difficult for vehicles that are driving up and down the street to be able to have a good clear line of sight.”
Price said there are some finer aspects of the law that will be reviewed in the near future by the Long Beach Planning Commission, such as the storage of RVs behind jaded properties and additional provisions, before it comes into effect.
Eric Widstrand, the City’s traffic engineer, told the Signal Tribune on Wednesday that the ordinance first required California Coastal Commission review. He said Long Beach City staff routinely meets with the commission on various items that require its input regarding public access to the state’s coastal zones.
Widstrand said that as long as the changes that are proposed in the ordinance are consistent with the City’s own local coastal program, then no coastal commission approval is officially required for the law to pass.
Widstrand said that, as part of the implementation process, the City will begin installing signs at Long Beach entrance points to alert drivers to the new law early next year. He said the City will also provide a notice to residents, either through a utility bill, online or through other communication methods.
“We want to make sure residents are educated and are aware of what’s coming,” Widstrand said. “We don’t want to surprise them with this. And, also, there will probably be a grace period [before the law takes effect].”
Permits for temporary loading and unloading and parking will be made available for residents on the City’s website next year. At least 20 permits will be available annually with a 72-hour parking limit, Widstrand said. Exceptions will be made for those who submit requests in writing if oversized vehicles are used on a daily basis and on-premises parking is not reasonably available. Accommodations will also be made for disabled residents who rely on oversized vehicles for transportation.
Widstrand said the City is aware of the frustration the issue has caused between RV owners and non-owners, and he said the law is an attempted solution to avoid “that neighbor-on-neighbor conflict.”
“What we’re trying to do is provide some consistency in the city and in our own residential neighborhoods,” he said. “What currently happens, either based on my jurisdiction as City traffic engineer or a petition or coordination with city council offices [is that] we evaluate RV, oversized-vehicle parking on a case-by-case basis. One of the things we are concerned about is safety– whether it’s oversized vehicles blocking sight distance at an intersection, a driveway or alley– and then just avoiding what neighbors would consider nuisance vehicles parked in the neighborhood.”
In a phone interview this week, Sumer Temple, owner of Long Beach-based Don Temple Storage, explained that she was present at the original city council meeting in June, when the RV ordinance was first proposed. Her concern was what would happen to residents who have no place to park their vehicles.
She went into detail regarding an independent study Don Temple Storage commissioned Long Beach marketing consultant Beeler & Associates to conduct in August. According to the findings, roughly 2,500 households currently have no place or are struggling to find places to park their oversized vehicles.
Temple said that number will only increase with the new RV law.
“I understood why the city needed the ordinance,” she said. “[…] I get that. But what bothered me […] was, during that meeting when councilmembers were asking questions and expressing concerns, not one of them asked, ‘Where will these people go?’ Not one of them. And that bothered me– being in this industry my whole life; I grew up in it– I know […] that we have people just looking [for facilities.] Everyone’s looking for spaces. It’s becoming harder and harder to find spaces that accommodate RVs.”
Temple compared the ordinance to a similar one established in Lakewood that didn’t allow RV owners to park their vehicles in their driveways, unlike the Long Beach one that does, but she said there simply isn’t room in those entrances anyway.
“Long Beach is saying you can still park [the RVs] in driveways, but, come on, let’s be realistic here,” she said, “[…] I feel like that doesn’t apply to half the houses.”
Some Lakewood residents took it upon themselves to extend their garages higher to avoid storage fees and to keep their vehicles at home, according to Temple.
Price’s response to the criticism was that there are currently RV-storage facilities in the area that have vacancies.
“We’ve advertised the new ordinance to our residents, and we have not received [concerns],” she said. “Those that have concerns, we’ve put them in touch directly with some RV-storage parks, and they were able to find spaces. I understand about the concern, but I haven’t found it to be the critical-need situation that was expressed.”