RV Parking in Residential Neighborhoods

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Background

Berkeley Muncipal Code 12.76.020 specifically prohibits living in RVs and other house cars in city limits, with a singular exclusion: 72 hours every 90 days, in the backyard of a property with setbacks respected. Even then, cooking and plumbing facilities of the vehicle may not be used.

Councilmember Sophie Hahn, in her capacity as Chair of the Health, Life Enrichment & Community Committee, is pushing forward a proposal to issue permits to allow living in Recreational Vehicles (RVs) on city streets, including residential streets.

Because the RV Parking Proposal from Councilmember Hahn and her committee is a major departure from the code, members of the community have raised many questions about it.

Recent News

Berkeley has seen its share of the hazards of RVs in urban areas. Here are some recent ones:

Questions about the RV Parking Proposal

Rationale, Objectives, and Exit Plan

Question Response
What population(s) is the program intended to serve?
What controls will be implemented to ensure that the program is not abused by other groups, such as travelers and profiteers?


Example: "Vanlord" in Venice, CA

What alternatives have been considered and why were they rejected?
What would constitute a failure of the program such that it would be dismantled and any staffing additions eliminated? That is, what is the exit plan?
What regional solutions are being pursued? Which regional solutions would result dismantling the local program and eliminating staffing additions?
Will permit issuance require waiver of any right to sue or file legal action against the city ?
Clarify how the 20 per month, 240 per year number is defined. Does this mean there are only 20 valid permits in circulation in any given time, or 240 permits in circulation at any given time? What happens when the first 20 expire? What happens after the first year? Another 240 permits, for a total of 480? Because the Council was making illegal a practice that had previously been legal in Berkeley (parking an RV on our streets overnight - in unlimited numbers), the two-week permit was proposed to allow a small number of RVs to park on our streets (20 at any given time, city-wide, vs. the over 200 we estimate are on our streets at this time) so that visiting guests, families dropping kids off at UC Berkeley, tourists and others passing through Berkeley in RVs (including homeless individuals, if they apply and conform to permit requirements) would be able to park overnight for up to two weeks.
How will "families dropping kids off at UC Berkeley and tourists" be confident that they can obtain permits before arriving in an RV? What is their alternative if no permits are available?

Equity

Question Response
What anti-fraud controls will be implemented to ensure that no camper or vehicle receives more than a single permit?
How will the distribution of RVs around the city be made equitable?
What prevents RVs from moving to locations of their choice?
What prevents RVs from parking in dense clusters, occupying specific areas?
BFD has determined that it is unsafe to locate RVs on narrow streets, which are largely in the hills. To maintain equity, will the hills enjoy a higher concentration of RVs on wider streets?
Will Council Members demonstrate their commitment by making spaces in from of their own homes permanently available for campers at all times?

Financial Impact

Question Response
Council budget priorities require that any new programs generate revenue capable of covering the cost of those programs. How will this new program conform to that policy?
Councilmember Hahn argues that the program will extend to visiting friends and relations of residents. How will this impact hotels that generate needed tax revenues for the city?
An RV encampment in front of a property listed for sale will make that property less desirable. How will the plan address the loss of property value incurred by homeowners?
What is the total cost of implementing and operating the program?
What is the source of funding for the program?
What is the opportunity cost of staff time developing the program?
What is the opportunity cost of implementing the program?
What metrics and accountability will be used before any expansion of the program takes place?
Will children in campers be enrolled in Berkeley schools?
Will children in campers be removed from Berkeley schools when permits expire?
What additional services will be provided to children in campers and how will these be funded?
What is the opportunity cost of providing services to children in campers?
The proposal contemplates giving campers flyers describing the amenities available in the city. What amenities are being offered?
Heavy vehicles impact road conditions according to their weight. How will the cost of this damage be measured and paid for?

Public Health

Question Response
The proposal indicates that pump out usage will be required. How will pump out mandates be enforced?
Where will pump out stations be located?
What resources will be committed to provide health services to campers?
How will campers acquire water?
How will street cleaning occur if RVs do not observe parking constraints?

Public Safety

Question Response
Will permits be issued to sex offenders? How will RV locations for sex offenders be constrained such that they are not near schools and other facilities from which they are required to remain distant?
Under what conditions will permits be immediately revoked, and who makes that determination in each case?
What resources will be committed to policing and enforcement of the policies?
Previous laws that prohibit living in a "house car" were never enforced. What evidence is there that these new rules will be enforced?
If enforcement is complaint-based, will police respond 24x7?
What metrics will be collected/published about criminal activity in/around RVs?
Will violations result in arrest, citation, or warnings? How will these be tracked/reported?
Who pays for removing inoperable vehicles or vehicles with expired registration?
How will permit expiry be tracked and enforced?
Will bicycle boulevards be exempted so that large vehicles do not impede the passage of bicycles?
Will there be a registry system, cross-referenced by vehicle license plate number, so that residents can check Megan’s law status of all occupants of a particular vehicle (as they would be able to do for their regularly housed neighbors)?
Will periodic inspections occur to ensure that sex offenders do not begin to occupy vehicles after permits are issued to other occupants?
What resources will be committed to check that license plates registered are accurate and that the vehicle actually exists? That is, what prevents the permits from being claimed over and over by the same people? What is the budget allocated to this verification process, which does not exist today?
What controls will be put in place so that large vehicles are not parked so as to obstruct visibility of traffic at intersections?
Will permits be granted to vehicles that are registered to addresses outside of Berkeley ? out of state tags? What efforts will be made to return the RV owners to those locations?
Will current vehicle registration be a requirement (and enforced)? What about current smog results?
Will the city check to see if vehicles are reported stolen?

Quality of life for taxpayers

Question Response
Will campers be eligible to vote in local elections if they register while holding a permit?
How will campers dispose of trash and what measures will be taken to ensure that they do not take advantage of residents' bins?
What provisions will be added to the city budget for specific monetary recourse for residents whose amenities are used without permission or whose property is damaged (garbage, water, tree or landscaping and vehicle damage due to parking of oversized vehicles).
Will residents be allowed to claim permits and with what limitations?

Message from Councilmember Hahn explaining basis for program

Friday, June 28, 2019

Hello and thanks for interest in the work of the City Council to address the complex Homeless and RV situations in our community. There are a number of inaccuracies in the post and I'd like to clarify, hopefully assuaging some of the concerns this post may have elicited.

First, many of you may not be aware that the City Council recently instituted a "Committee" system, wherein subject-matter-based subcommittees of the City Council consider legislation before it goes to the full Council. Both Oakland and San Francisco have similar Committee systems, which allow for legislation to be more fully considered and vetted by both Councilmembers and staff before showing up on a full Council agenda for a vote. I am Chair of the Health, Life Enrichment & Community Committee.

Several months ago, the full City Council passed new ordinance language that gave the City the power to move along (via ticketing and potential towing) RVs parked overnight. In addition to adding RVs to the list of vehicles that cannot be parked overnight on City streets, the City Council referred to the Health, Life Enrichment & Community Committee to establish "basic criteria" for a "standard" two-week permit process for RVs, to include: - A limited number of permits per month - Locations geographically dispersed among all Council districts - A reasonable fee to cover City costs.

Because the Council was making illegal a practice that had previously been legal in Berkeley (parking an RV on our streets overnight - in unlimited numbers), the two-week permit was proposed to allow a small number of RVs to park on our streets (20 at any given time, City-wide, vs. the over 200 we estimate are on our streets at this time) so that visiting guests, families dropping kids off at UC Berkeley, tourists and others passing through Berkeley in RVs (including homeless individuals, if they apply and conform to permit requirements) would be able to park overnight for up to two weeks.

As Chair of the Committee, it was my duty to respond to the full City Council with a proposal meeting the referred criteria for a two-week permit. This proposal may be changed or supplemented and, if passed by Council, will be referred to staff to work out any additional details and implement. If you would like to submit comments, email council@cityofberkeley.info.

Here are the proposed criteria that were sent to Council for consideration, in conformance with the task delegated to the Committee:

1. A RV or camper could park on a City of Berkeley street between two a.m. and five a.m. for one (1) period of up to two (2) weeks in every calendar year with a permit issued by the City of Berkeley to the vehicle owner.

2. The fee for such a permit would be the same as the 14-day Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) Visitor Permit (currently $34.00).

3. The maximum number of permits issued by the City of Berkeley in any month would be 20 (total of 240 per year).

4. The RV or camper could park only in a specific RV Parking Zone, as designated by the City, geographically dispersed among areas roughly approximate to Council Districts or police “areas,” but with easy to identify borders.

5. Narrow streets (under _?_ feet) and any other streets not appropriate for wide or large vehicles shall be excluded (per Fire Chief and Public Works); off-limits streets and locations should be clearly marked on a map provided to the permit holder, and on an online map.

6. The 2-week permit will be operable in RPP zones, but does not supersede other parking limitations (20 minute, 2 hour, etc.) or the need to pay for parking, when and where required. Can park in all zones – C, M and R – but only in legal spaces/areas during allowed times.

7. All RVs must not be inoperable as defined at BMC Section 12.98.010.

8. Vehicle owners must pump-out only at designated pump-out stations.

9. Vehicle owners must refrain from placing objects on sidewalks or streets (except in transit) and must dispose of any refuse at the City transfer station or _?_ (per Public Works).

10. Noise will be limited to levels allowed in each Zone; no loud generators or equipment.

11. The vehicle for which the visitor permit is being obtained must not have any outstanding Berkeley parking violations older than 21 days.

12. Staff shall add enforcement provisions, as needed.

13. Upon issuance of permit, vehicle owner should receive a suite of informational materials, including city maps, events, amenities, and homeless services.

I hope this helps clarify how this proposal came about (some elements were set by Council in the referral to our Committee, others were proposed by City Staff, the public and Committee members/Committee Chair), and the elements of what is currently under consideration. Again, we welcome your comments, ideas and concerns; please email the City Council at council@cityofberkeley.info. (signed) Sophie Hahn