ESCONDIDO — The City Council has postponed consideration of stricter RV parking regulations until more information is available regarding permits, city regulations and potential safe parking lots for unhoused individuals living in mobile homes.
Due to a vacant District 3 seat, the council’s four-member board failed to approve the regulations after a 2-2 vote during its Jan. 11. meeting.
Staff brought a potential policy to the council on Jan. 11 that would have restricted RV parking citywide on highways, streets, alleys, public ways, public places or city parking lots. A few exceptions to the rule would have included parking: for one 24-hour period within 100 yards of the vehicle’s registered address; in posted city lots that allow RV parking; for RVs that belong to a federal, state or local agency; during city emergencies; or special, permitted events.
The proposed ordinance would have allowed the police department to tow and impound an RV after a single violation. Three or more infractions would have been considered a misdemeanor against the owner.
Deputy Mayor Joe Garcia and Councilmember Mike Morasco were not opposed to finding alternative options for RV parking, but they wanted to implement the regulations immediately.
“I’d like some additional information – something more – but I don’t think we should postpone this,” Garcia said.
According to staff, RV parking has negatively affected traffic safety and quality of life for Escondido residents and workers.
RVs have been known to impair visibility for pedestrians and drivers and reduce available street parking. And staff noted instances of illegal discharge of wastewater on city streets as well as discarded trash.
Under the ordinance, RVs may park on private property.
“You can park an RV on your front lawn in most zones where you can’t even park your car on your front lawn,” said Assistant City Attorney Gary McCarthy.
McCarthy said that the regulations were brought forward due to the significant number of complaints the city receives from residents and business owners about RVs parked in residential and commercial areas.
Some residents opposed the regulations, which they believe could make life even more difficult for houseless individuals forced to live in their RVs for lack of other affordable options.
“While the intent is to keep streets orderly, people’s necessities come first,” said Hannah Butler via email. “Many people who live in RVs do so out of financial necessity because they cannot afford traditional housing. By restricting RV parking, this may criminalize homelessness and make it even more difficult for people already struggling to find affordable housing.”
Juliana Musheyev also pushed back against the regulations, noting a friend of hers lives in an RV parked in town because she has no other choice.
“She depends on the ability to park and live in her RV to be housed,” Musheyev said. “She’s not a criminal; she’s just someone who wants a place to live.”
Staff cited the RV Resort Park and Dixon Lake as possible options for people to park their RVs. Both, however, have daily rental costs that could create a barrier to people living in their RVs who can’t find affordable housing as it is.
Some public comments brought up the need for safe parking lots for homeless individuals to legally park their RVs overnight before any regulations are implemented.
The cities of Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, National City, Oceanside, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista all have RV parking regulations. However, only San Diego, Encinitas and Vista either have safe parking lots or have a policy in place to set up safe parking lots.
Councilmember Consuelo Martinez is open to having safe parking lots for RVs and requested more information from staff on implementing such a policy.
“I feel like this is an important issue that we can’t just turn a blind eye to …, but I do think we need to provide options for folks because we don’t have enough options as it is,” Martinez said.
Martinez recognizes that RV parking has been an issue but fears legal repercussions if the city targets RV owners. She also wanted to hear from more residents about the issues before deciding on any regulations.
Mayor Dane White also wanted to postpone the decision until more information was brought forward. One of his concerns was the ability of out-of-town visitors to park their RVs by the homes of the people they’re visiting.
While the mayor was interested in implementing a permitting process for RVs, City Manager Sean McGlynn noted that such a system would be a costly challenge for the city.