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RV ordinance bans sleeper vehicles from parking on city streets

The measure will replace the current ordinance on Jan. 1.

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Recreational vehicles, camper coaches, camper trailers and motorhomes are banned from parking on Longmont city streets, alleys and other public rights of way, under an ordinance passed Tuesday night by city council.

The measure passed 6-1 with Councilmember Polly Christensen dissenting. She and others who spoke during a public hearing argued the city was punishing RV owners who needed their vehicles for shelter and could not afford conventional housing.

“It looks like you are treating people who are living in their vehicle as some sort of enemy,” said Stan Tolle, who lives in his RV. “There are disabled people, people working and trying to save money” living in RVs.

“You seem to want to expel us from the community,” Tolle said.

Christensen also repeated a complaint that the ordinance refers to “sleeper vehicles,” which she said was poorly defined. “Unless we make this law more clear I am not going to vote for it,” she said.

Councilmember Macia Martin said the ordinance is easy to understand and includes exceptions for people who are not living in their RVs on a city right-of-way on a full-time basis.

“We are spending way too much time on this,” Martin said. “I think we’re making a tempest out of a teapot.”

The measure will replace the current ordinance on Jan. 1. The existing law allows “sleeper vehicles” to be parked on streets, as long as those vehicles are moved at least 600 feet every 48 hours.

Police and code enforcement officers this summer told the city council that a change was needed because more junked RVs were being abandoned on city streets. RV owners also were dumping waste into local sewers and leaving trash in their wake, officials said.

Vehicles with a valid sleeper vehicle permit or vehicles in the process of actively loading or unloading can remain parked on a public street, according to a city staff report to council.

Jeff Satur, deputy chief of Police Services, told council the ordinance is only complaint-based. Officers will not generally go out of their way to ticket and tow a vehicle.

Sleeper vehicle permits are $25 and are limited to four seven-day permits per vehicle and per applicant, according to the staff report.

City Manager Harold Dominguez told council the city is still working with Boulder County to allow RV dwellers to use the fairgrounds in Longmont for 60 days while city and county housing officials work to get RV users into more permanent housing.

“We are building an operational plan,” Dominguez said.