Nighttime parking limits debated in Santa Cruz

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John Daugherty, 61, came to Santa Cruz for a job three years ago. He said he usually parks his campervan overnight in church parking lots that allow it. (Stephen Baxter – Santa Cruz Local)

SANTA CRUZ >>A new law that could prevent overnight parking for many people who live in their campervans is expected to be considered by Santa Cruz City Council on October 26.

The council discussed the matter on Tuesday. He took no formal action except to schedule the hearing and ask the mayor to create a council committee to explore expanding safe parking programs. The vote was 6-0 with Mayor Donna Meyers absent.

The proposal comes in response to concerns from some residents of Westside about garbage, litter and crime related to people who live in their vehicles. Deputy Mayor Sonja Brunner and council members Renee Golder and Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson drafted the proposal. The potential new rules would not be enforced until city leaders designate more overnight parking spaces for the homeless.

The proposal understand :

  • A requirement for overnight parking permits for oversized vehicles. Resident permits would be valid for one year and allow the vehicle to be parked in one location for 72 hours. Vehicles should be parked next to the resident’s home or, if that location is not available, within 400 feet. Residents can purchase visiting permits for out of town guests. Visitor permits would be similar but valid for 30 days. Oversized vehicles are defined as vehicles or trailers at least 20 feet long or 7 feet high and 7 feet wide.
  • People are eligible for residence permits if their RV’s DMV registration shows an address in Santa Cruz for at least six months. An RV owner must have a permanent address in the city to obtain a resident or visitor RV license.
  • Without a permit, recreational vehicle parking would generally not be permitted on city streets, alleys or land from 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. The limits would not apply to emergency situations such as mechanical breakdowns. Fines would be set for the infractions.

Coastal Commission approval required

The proposal would update the city’s 2015 overnight parking ban and align it with a new municipal law that limits where and when homeless people can camp.

The city’s overnight parking ban for recreational vehicles required a permit from the Coastal Commission to take effect. At a Coastal Commission hearing in 2016, several commissioners expressed their concern about the law and called it “onerous”, “drastic” and “draconian”. The commission voted 11-1 to investigate the law in a public hearing, but the hearing was not scheduled.

On Tuesday, Deputy City Manager Lee Butler said he and other city staff had entered into discussions with Coastal Commission staff about a possible update to the law. Butler said the Coast Commission wanted clarification on where oversized vehicles can park and statistics on nuisance issues associated with overnight parking of oversized vehicles.

Council member Justin Cummings said on Tuesday he was skeptical of the coastal commission’s approval of the new version of the city law.

What do some motorhome drivers think?

As of Tuesday morning, more than 10 RVs were parked on Delaware Avenue and Natural Bridges Drive in Santa Cruz. A few other vans and other vehicles were crammed with personal belongings and the windows were covered. Signs say overnight parking is illegal from midnight to 6 a.m.

John Daugherty, 61, said he moved to Santa Cruz three years ago for a job in the farm paying $ 25 an hour. He often parks his 26-foot motorhome in church parking lots at night, where permitted. He often parks on Natural Bridges Drive during the day. That’s where it was on Tuesday, parked between Delaware Avenue and Mission Street.

“I have tickets here. It wasn’t even overnight yet, and they gave me a ticket, ”Daugherty said.

Asked about overnight parking for RVs in front of people’s homes, Daugherty said he “wouldn’t want that to happen.” He said, “People sit in the front room or whatever, watch TV, you wouldn’t want to watch a motorhome out the front window.” But a place like this street, where everything is commercial, any commercial area would be good “for overnight parking,” he said.

Daugherty added that the waste issues could be solved by installing trash cans on Natural Bridges Drive.

Daugherty said he would support a permit system for overnight parking for motorhomes if it was not tied to an address. “Because the cops spend all the time in cars. It is well guarded. But if you have a sticker on your car, they know you are involved in the city and are cool.

“There are a lot of people who need safe spaces,” Daugherty said. “If they have to sleep in a van, they need safe spaces. Sometimes this street is crowded.

Jana Monson, an evacuee from the Lake Tahoe area, stayed in her campervan with her dog Lexi near Delaware Avenue in Santa Cruz this week. (Kara Meyberg Guzman – Santa Cruz Local)

Jana Monson, a retired waitress, parked her campervan near Delaware Avenue and Liberty Street on Tuesday morning. When she was recently forced to evacuate her home near Lake Tahoe due to the Caldor fire, her friends in Santa Cruz urged her to park her RV on their street. She plans to move to Three Rivers, a town near Sequoia National Park, but is waiting for another evacuation order to be lifted there.

Monson said she thinks RV parking limits are a bad idea. She said she shopped, visited local restaurants and bought $ 300 worth of gasoline in Santa Cruz this week.

City leaders “should want people to come visit their community and not tell people they are not welcome,” Monson said.

Secure parking

Details on the location and amount of the secure parking expansion have not been decided. Safe parking programs in Santa Cruz are administered by the nonprofit religious group Association of Faith Communities. Approximately 35 spaces are available throughout Santa Cruz County.

  • Depending on the site, the equipment includes electricity, WiFi, toilets and showers.
  • Vehicles must be registered and insured, according to the group website. Call 831-753-8555 or send an email [email protected] to obtain a safe parking space.

Joseph Jacobs, program director for the Association of Faith Communities SafeSpaces parking program, said at the Tuesday meeting that SafeSpaces has not received city funding and is not a city sponsored program.

Jacobs said that when his group appealed to city leaders to help them expand the secure parking program, “We were told there was not a dime to fund such a program.” . Jacobs said he was told at the time that the city’s priority was to create a day center on Coral Street.

“So I’m not sure where the funding is coming from for the expansion of the secure parking program,” said Jacobs.

What motivated the proposal?

City attorney Tony Condotti said in Tuesday’s meeting that the city has laws banning garbage, sewage dumping and other nuisances. Yet issuing tickets that included misdemeanors has not been effective, Condotti said.

“Even if you could arrest someone and take them into custody, the way the court process works these days is that they would be back on the streets within an hour and return to the parked motorhome and keep walking. indulge in this kind of behavior. that we’re trying to solve, ”Condotti said. “So moving these vehicles seems to be the only effective way to remedy some of the nuisance conditions associated with them. ”

Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills, who helped present the council members’ proposal, said the proposal would allow the city attorney to pursue nuisance-related cases such as illegal vehicle dumping recreational. The courts are inundated with more serious cases, he said.

“We’ve written hundreds of tickets, both for parking and other municipal code violations, in the Westside,” Mills said. “And it might help for a little while, but it comes right back.” And so, I think it can help us with the leverage to make sure people don’t park and create these issues. “

Mills added that the proposal would not only address homeless people living in recreational vehicles, but also visitors from out of town. “We have a lot of people coming in from out of state who think it’s fair to park on someone’s street for a while while they’re on a surf trip or are on vacation, ”Mills said.

According to police data since 2020, most complaints about RV parking have been in the Westside, along Delaware Avenue, Natural Bridges Drive, Shaffer Road, Mission Street and Almar Avenue.

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Kara Meyberg Guzman is CEO and co-founder of Santa Cruz Local. Prior to Santa Cruz Local, she was editor-in-chief of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. She graduated in biology from Stanford University and lives in Santa Cruz.

Stephen Baxter is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Santa Cruz Local. It covers the Santa Cruz County government.


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