In June, Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group vetted a recurring and worsening problem: RV dwellers living out of their vehicles disposing of waste in the area.
“People are not only living here, but they’re also dumping their emergency holding tanks and oil and cleaning agents into the street, even into Channel Way, a new street just redone, which is completely illegal,” said board member Tod Howarth. “Some people are dumping white paint down the center of the street and it went into the drainage. It’s almost like a biohazard, as well as a blight.”
Howarth noted that the City has relaxed enforcement of its vehicle habitation and oversized vehicle ordinances the past three months during the pandemic.
“How long is this going to go on?” asked Howarth. “Where did all those (enforcement) resources go?”
A 1983 City ordinance prohibits residents from living in a vehicle on streets within city limits. That ordinance was briefly overturned recently, only to be reinstated due to residents’ concerns about strangers living in their neighborhoods.
Disabled rights attorney Ann Menasche has since filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of forbidding vehicle occupation within City limits.
Six years ago the City enacted a Neighborhood Parking Protection Ordinance meant to curb abuse by oversized and non-motorized vehicles taking advantage of free residential parking. Oversized vehicles are defined as vehicles, including any attached trailers, vehicles or loads thereon, that exceed 27 feet in length and 7 feet in height. Non-motorized vehicles include open and closed trailers with or without loads.
MPHCG board member Amy Stark suggested using the City’s Get It Done App to report illegal vehicles and dumping, pointing out it’s been effective. She added, “It helps to take a picture and send a description with the location.”
“We can try that,” said group chair Cathy Kenton. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Hearing it from multiple people would help.”
“I’ll follow up with neighborhood policing,” said District 2 staffer Josh Cohen.
Of the vehicle habitation ordinance, Kenton said, “When that ordinance was originally passed it (RV overnighting) went away for a while. Now everybody’s back and nobody’s paying attention.”
“It’s getting worse, creeping back in,” said Howath. “There are a lot of campers on Hancock Street.”
Recreational vehicles are defined in the vehicle code as “any camp trailer, camper, trailer coach or house car” or “any boat, dune buggy, all-terrain vehicle or other motorized or towed vehicle designed, maintained or used primarily for recreational purposes.”
Recreational vehicle owners may obtain a permit allowing overnight parking. A permit is valid for one 24-hour period. The permit is valid only on the same block as the resident’s address.
Individuals must offer proof of residency in advance to purchase the permit. Permit applicants — once confirmed by city staff — may purchase up to three consecutive permits (totaling 72 hours). Applicants may purchase up to 72 days of permits per year.
For more information about obtaining permits for oversize vehicles, visit the City’s “Temporary Overnight Recreational Vehicle Permit” at sandiego.gov/parking/permits.