Not in my front yard

Over the years, my neighborhood has waged a personal war against RVs. Boats, trailers and campers tend to not be our favorite vehicles either.

I don’t think there is a person on my block, including me, who isn’t totally in favor of recreational vehicle ownership. We truly want you to have fun. But we also truly want you to store this vehicle somewhere other than in front of our homes.

Let Inga Tell You. Look for La Jolla resident Inga's lighthearted looks at life every other week in The La Jolla Light.

This sounds very elitist, I know. In fact, my older son Rory, a clinical social worker who heads up a VA program for homeless vets, thinks we all lack sufficient compassion for the poor.

“Rory,” I said, “If you can buy one of these pricey vehicles, you do not qualify as poor.” I pointed out to him that no one has ever abandoned their upscale RV in front of my house for months at a time. That’s because people with nice RVs pay for someplace to store it. But people with decrepit RVs seem to be attracted like magnets to our block.

The problem is, RVs beget RVs, and campers and trailers. As soon as one shows up, word seems to spread telepathically to other RV owners who conclude, “Oh, this must be a friendly place to park RVs!” Pretty soon, our street looks like Camp Land West.

At various times, the neighborhood population has doubled with camper shell residents, whom, I had to agree with Rory, might well be homeless. One time a woman came to our door asking if Tony might have told us where he was going.

“Tony?” we said.

“He was living in the green camper across the street from your house for the last few months and suddenly he’s gone. He’s my boyfriend but I think he may have gone to Vegas with another woman. I just wondered if he said anything to you before he left.”

“Houston,” said Olof to me at the time, “we have a problem.”

But most of the time, the issue is not people living in vehicles but long-term storage. Technically, this problem should have been resolved with the advent of San Diego Municipal Code §86.09.06: Vehicles cannot be parked or stored on a public street in excess of 72 hours without being moved at least one-tenth of a mile. What they should have added was: “… and may not return to that vicinity for five years.”

Even after parking enforcement finally gets out there to chalk-mark the vehicle’s place on the street, some RV owners will drive it around the block (a tenth of a mile) and park it eight feet from its original location.

We in the neighborhood refer to this as San Diego Municipal Code §86.09.07: the Neener Clause.

Now, I’ve always preferred cordial human contact in conflict resolution wherever possible. In the many conversations I’ve had over the years with RV, boat and trailer owners, the two reasons they all cite as to why they are parking at my house are these:

1) They don’t want to use up their own home or business parking.
2) Their neighbors have complained that the vehicle is an eyesore.

Amazingly, they cite these reasons totally straight-faced. I usually just stand there for a minute hoping against hope for the “Aha!” moment. “Oh, I get it! You don’t want my eyesore vehicle taking up your parking either!” In my fantasy, he jumps in his RV and drives off with a jaunty wave and an “I’ve seen the light! It’ll never happen again!”

But that’s not how it goes. After a period of silence, I am forced to point out as graciously as I can that a 30-foot long RV parked in front of my house makes backing out of my driveway an absolute hazard, that we can’t park in front of own house while it’s there, and that we are hoping for a change of scenery from our living room window from this behemoth of a vehicle.

Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. One decrepit RV owner persisted in hanging around for a year, citing inalienable rights. Determined to thwart the system, he moved his RV precisely every 71 hours and 58 minutes in a 100-yard circuit. Some months later, Ugly RV’s Clueless Owner approached me and said, “Would you believe, people are vandalizing my RV! You’re the only nice person on this block!”

Since I’d long asked him nicely to move this vehicle back to his nearby business, it was all I could do not to say, “Actually, I’m just curbing my overwhelming urge to put plastique in your tailpipe. I’ve just been hoping that if I take the high road, you will, too. And by high road, I’m really hoping that you will take this vehicle on a road, any road, that is not in our neighborhood.”

Hope, for some inexplicable reason, springs eternal.

*** Look for La Jolla resident Inga’s lighthearted looks at life every other week in The La Jolla Light. Reach her at

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Posted by Staff on Feb 7, 2012. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Let Inga Tell You. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Not in my front yard”

  1. Elise

    I think Inga's story "Not in Front of my House" is right on and deserves some attention by those who are paid to enforce city rules regarding recreation vehicles being parked for extended periods on our neighborhood streets. I reside in the Mt. Soledad area of La Jolla in a lovely older neighborhood, however to get in and out I need the neck of an ostrich to see if any cars are coming. Not only is it RV's but boats, camper shells, empty trailer frames etc. that line Soledad Mtn. Rd. At times people live in these and I see the electric cords running across the sidewalk between the vehicle and home. Every once in awhile someone moves their boat, or camper around the corner onto our street. The worst part is when they move it again trash and broken glass is often left behind. At what point are these recreational vehicle owners required to move them permanently?
    Last week I saw the "RSVP" Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol writing down plate numbers but nothing really changes. I wish our town leaders could do something about this ongoing problem that should be a revenue source for the city. I applaud Inga for her story. She has a lovely way of getting to the heart of things.

  2. Christian Vice

    Well I think it's not that you lack compassion for the less fortunate people, I do think that you still care for them but you're concern more about yourself particularly protecting your wooden gazebo. It's not that bad but there's always a better way to settle things between you and your neighbor.

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