How the City of Long Beach will enforce oversized vehicles and recreational vehicles parked for prolonged periods of time on city streets could be decided by a new study. Last night, the city council directed the city attorney’s office to undertake such an endeavor during a regularly scheduled city council meeting.
The item was presented to the council by council members Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw, who argued that their constituents have reported such vehicles not only creating public health issues due to their owners illegally dumping waste, but also safety issues, as these large vehicles have the ability to block drivers’ fields of vision and potentially create traffic hazards.
The two were looking for the city attorney to draft an ordinance for a citywide ban on oversized vehicles and RVs in residential and commercial corridors limiting vehicle parking windows to 48 hours, requiring those not registered to Long Beach addresses to have a permit to park on city streets and regulating how far the vehicles need to be moved daily to be in compliance.
However, questions and amendments from their colleagues came in rapid succession with some pressing for longer parking periods for loading RVs, and others asking that the program be tested in a pilot program to assess its effectiveness.
Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce asked whether the spirit of the ordinance might affect members of the homeless community who sleep in their cars, a topic the council had spent nearly four hours discussing earlier that night.
“Especially on a day where we had hours of testimony on homelessness and we have 70 percent of our homeless people in LA County sleep outdoors,” Pearce said. “There’s a DOJ (Department of Justice) ruling that says that unless we have adequate beds for our housing our homeless then we can’t make it illegal for them to sleep in their cars.”
While Price clarified that her intent was to limit the chances of these “corridor blocking” vehicles from causing accidents and prevent them from taking up multiple parking spaces in a parking-impacted city, some of the digital correspondences emailed in advance of the meeting made it clear why community members supported the ordinance.
Some wrote that the ordinance could help eliminate strangers and homeless who have taken up residence in their neighborhoods in the vehicles, noting that crime has spiked since they appeared. Brandie Sponaugle wrote of the “fearful sight” of trailers and RVs parked in the areas around Prisk Elementary and Stanford Middle Schools.
“I fear every day and constantly warn my children to never leave the gated areas and never stand by the exits,” she wrote. “Many children walk to school, I hope that the result is never an Amber Alert. My mind can only think of the disgusting pedophiles and perverts that may be occupying these vehicles surrounding our schools with no consequences.”
City Attorney Charles Parkin said that despite what those digital comments may have been alluding to, any possible ordinance could not legally be used as “a remedy to cure homeless issues” adding that several cities have had their RV ordinances overturned because of similar issues.
Concerns over the possible legislation did not stop at people living in their RVs, but extended to RV owners who feel they should be able to park in front of their own homes and should not be held to a blanket ban if enacted by the city. One man pointed out that under the city’s current definition of an oversized vehicle (20-feet long) his pickup truck would be made illegal to park in his neighborhood.
George Davis, an RV owner and Long Beach resident, said that RV owners are not the problem and like multiple other RV owners, asked for amendments to a finalized ordinance to take into account good operators.
“I, too, have seen the homeless park inside the city and in those areas. I, too, have seen that they dump their sewage in the gutters and I’m concerned about that too,” Davis said. “There are different ways to deal with this than having this umbrella, blanket ordinance that says all motorhomes or oversized vehicles are the problem because that’s not the problem.”
Ultimately, the council opted for a study looking into what the city could legally do to ensure that any possible ordinance drafted in the future would be in compliance with state and local agencies, and also take into account adjustments like redefining what “oversized” means for residential parking, as well as possibly extending the amount of hours granted for loading up RVs.
It would also evaluate whether or not citywide signage would be necessary, or only if signs at the entries to the city would be needed—an item that ranges in price from $100,000 to $1 million.
The possibility remains that a pilot program could be instituted in a selected region of the city before any kind of citywide ordinance is put into effect. The findings of the study are expected to be presented to the council at a later date.