The City Council has taken the first tentative step to curb oversize vehicles blocking ocean views - and taking up valuable parking space - in coastal areas. The issue has perturbed local residents for some time.
Last week, the Council voted 7-0, with Councilman Tony Young absent, to look into ways to control oversize vehicles,. The mayor’s office has been asked to return in 60 days with a fiscal analysis for a draft Oversize Vehicle Ordinance. Such an ordinance would create restrictions on placement of oversized vehicles in coastal areas. Such factors as signage cost, enforcement, administration, permit fees and potential funding sources are to be considered.
“The Council needed more information on what a permit program might look like, how it would be enforced and how much it would cost to enforce,” said Keeley Sweeney, Council President Scott Peters La Jolla representative. “There have been some legal issues with the City Attorney’s office. We’ll hopefully be working with traffic engineers to document what an appropriate number of signs might be and whether or not it’s more or less expensive to do a pilot program or do it citywide.”
The proliferation of oversize vehicles and trailers in coastal areas is viewed by many as visual blight and a matter requiring legislative action. Public safety and quality of life issues have been raised by coastal residents, who have grown tired of large and unsightly RVs parking in front of their homes taking up precious parking space and blocking view corridors, as well as restricting access to driveways and alleys, for days, weeks or even months at a time.
Presently, recreational and oversized vehicles are only allowed to remain in the same parking spot for 72 hours at a time. As a practical matter, this municipal code has proven to be inadequate in controlling or even addressing the growing oversized vehicle problem for a number of reasons.
Enforcement has been complaint-driven, meaning residents have to report violating vehicles to initiate the enforcement process. Police workloads are such that there has been a great deal of lag time in officers investigating oversized vehicle complaints. And, the 72-hour legal requirement allowing oversize vehicles to be parked in the same spot makes it difficult for police to check up on them.
Oversize vehicle violators have also found easy ways to circumvent the 72-hour parking rule. Some have gotten around the restriction simply by moving their vehicles a short distance - as little as one tenth of a mile - away from the original location.
The problem has been particularly acute along the coast, where residents report extended-stay, oversized vehicles make it difficult for them to navigate streets. On some occasions, offending RV owners have exhibited aggressive or dangerous behavior.
“I was glad to see so much support for the proposed ordinance from my Council colleagues and the public,” said Peters. “It is clear that the problem of oversized vehicles parked on public streets is a citywide issue. The fact that other Councilmembers voiced a desire to have their neighborhoods included in the program convinces me that we are on the right track. This is a strong first step for our coastal neighborhoods and the city at large.”
Addressing the oversized vehicle issue has been ongoing at the city level since December 2004, when the City Council’s Land Use & Housing Committee heard a presentation on the issue. The committee then formed a working group which formulated a proposal which it subsequently presented to the Citywide Parking Advisory Board in May 2006. That proposal requested that a pilot program be implemented.