Long Beach looking to restrict RV parking

Kevin McManus lives in his RV in San Pedro. Parking restrictions there have made it tough to get by, he said. Now Long Beach is considering even tighter rules.
Kevin McManus lives in his RV in San Pedro. Parking restrictions there have made it tough to get by, he said. Now Long Beach is considering even tighter rules.
Susanica Tam for KPCC

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Oversized vehicles including recreational vans will need permits to park on residential streets in Long Beach if proposed regulations are approved by the City Council Tuesday.

The regulations, a year in the making, would allow RV owners to park for 72 hours at a time if they obtain a permit. Such permits, for the purposes of loading or unloading, would be available only to those with residences on the block. There would be some exceptions for disabled individuals and for commercial loading and unloading. Violating the restrictions could result in fines or towing. 

Craig Beck, director of public works for Long Beach, said "irresponsible" RV owners who park their oversized vehicles on streets for long periods prompted the proposed rule changes. 

"In some parking-impacted communities, we have folks that will just leave their RVs there for days and days and days, taking up a number of those parking spaces," Beck said. "Many times they'll park on corners and it creates safety hazards relative to line of sight for vehicles that are driving around."

City officials hope the rules changes will force those RV owners to park their vehicles on their properties or store them at a facility. They acknowledged, however, that the regulations could also impact homeless people, who would effectively be shut out from parking an oversized vehicle in a residential area.

"There are some folks living in their RVs and our goal is to get them connected with services," Beck said. "It's not a long-term solution to have folks living in RVs, parking in residential areas that aren't really set up to support that kind of activity."

Long Beach officials counted 1,863 homeless in a census conducted in January. Of the 686 who were not living in some sort of shelter, roughly 7 percent were living in their vehicles, according to the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services. There were also a number of people who appeared to be living in RVs, but did not identify themselves as homeless and were not included in the count. 

Teresa Chandler, the department's human services manager, said the city is working on developing a  program that would supply the homeless who need it with a place to park. The goal, Chandler said, is to get people living in their cars off the street and into shelters while they await permanent housing — which can be a long wait.

"It can be more comfortable to live in an RV versus a shelter," she said. "But ultimately, it's helping people focus on the long-term goal and what it means getting there."

The city of L.A. is in the midst of piloting a safe parking program, but progress has been slow

Should the Long Beach council approve the RV restrictions Tuesday and the mayor sign the ordinance, the California Coastal Commission, which has jurisdiction over some parts of Long Beach, would also need to weigh in before the parking rules went into effect.

The city would then need to engage in public education and post restriction signs. Beck said the earliest the city could start enforcing the proposed rules would be in six to nine months.