Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

The Crescent City Council held considerable discussion at Tuesday’s meeting regarding revised camping and recreational vehicle parking codes.

The topic returned from the Feb. 4 meeting where City Attorney Martha Rice said codes will need to be amended to prohibit certain camping, while meeting the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling not to criminalize those sleeping on public property.

City Manager Eric Wier said some ideas were being brought back to the council on how to address sleeping and resting on public properties within the city limits and regulations regarding long-term parking of trailers and RVs on public streets

Rice said changes will affect several parts of the city’s municipal code. Rather than read 16 pages of changes to the code, Rice opened the topic to the council for discussion.

Councilor Alex Fallman said the draft language “gets at the problem without actually providing beds for people.” He said the new language addresses beach camping and starting fires on beaches, while also addressing such issues as profanity and detailing penalties for such.

Councilor Jason Greenough questioned draft language that allowed hotels to give a three-day permit to guests who arrive in RVs or towing trailers.

“Sometimes people stay in our community a lot longer than three days,” he said, asking if the language could be changed.

“I’m sure there are people who travel in RVs and they want to stay in a motel for a few nights and they need to park their RV somewhere,” Rice said, noting the council could change the duration. Greenough said RV vacationers should be allowed to park as long as necessary.

Rice said the rule would apply if the hotel does not have room in its own lot and owners have to park the RV on public streets.

Mayor Pro Tem Heidi Kime agreed with Greenough, saying “I don’t want to move them along, I want them to stay as long as they possibly can and spend as much money as they possibly can in our community.”

Rice said the language could be removed, assuming no one would take advantage of it and the motel would offer RV owners proof of their stay.

Wier said he would support the idea, but would require proof of stay so RV owners don’t simply park near motels.

Scenarios

Mayor Blake Inscore said only the south end of U.S. 101 would have the space needed to park large RVs next to motels, but questioned how involved the city should get when it comes to regulating motel guests.

“What if it’s someone who is here, working on a project, and they’ve brought their 5th wheel and a truck and it’s sitting on the street in front of a hotel for a month at a time?” he asked. “Is that an appropriate use of that public space?”

Councilor Isaiah Wright said the issue would be handled in the same way as a guest with a car, by issuance of a parking permit.

By consensus, the council agreed to strike the time limit for motel guests with RVs, so long as it doesn’t hinder traffic and is legally parked.

Inscore questioned the municipal code’s definition of public property, which lists, “citv-owned or city-controlled property in the city, including any of the following: public-alleyways, rights-of-way, curbs, unimproved and improved parcels, EG areas or green belts, trails and pathways, sidewalks.”

When Inscore asked how beach property fits into city jurisdictional control, Rice thanked him for pointing out that the city doesn’t own local beaches.

“Do we have the jurisdictional authority to enforce it in those areas?” Inscore asked, noting the city is responsible for Beachfront Park in trust.

Wier affirmed the park is a state lands grant area and said property lines stop at the mean high tide mark. When asked by Inscore, Rice said language could be included to add city-controlled beach areas. By consensus, the council agreed.

The council discussed adjustment of draft definitions, such as trailer vs. motorhome and RV and their respective uses. Rice said language can be specified to avoid confusion later.

Council also discussed the parking of RVs and trailers in front of private residences and at special events, ultimately favoring permits for travel trailers and RVs for residents and visitors.

Police Chief Ivan Minsal said most complaints regarding RVs occur in the south end of Crescent City and along U.S. 101. He suggested signs in problem areas would give officers the ability to approach illegal parking and camping with some authority. He said most violations will be infractions and violators will receive a ticket.

“I don’t want any allusions that we are going to impound vehicles or drag people off to jail,” he said, “but we will be able to speak to people.”

Minsal said the revised code will give officers a few more tools to deal with problem issues and educate people.

After examining several potential scenarios regarding personal use of RVs, private property issues, the council consented not to allow large RVs to be parked in front yards and deleted requirements regarding sleeping and cooking in RVs parked on private property.

After some discussion regarding leash laws on local beaches, the council directed staff to draft language that dogs be leashed and under control. Minsal said he would like to see mandatory licensing and pet vaccinations, as well as laws requiring that dogs be under control at all times.

No codes were approved or adopted and Rice said the language will be amended and returned for adoption at a future date.

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