Half a year later, recreational vehicles still have free reign

Recreational vehicles still have free reign on streets in La Jolla more than half a year after the city’s parking board voted to approve strict limitations to where the vehicles can be parked.

The San Diego Parking Advisory Board voted in May of last year to approve a new set of guidelines for oversized vehicles, including recreational vehicles, and non-motorized vehicles such as boat trailers. The ordinance would require the owners of such vehicles to obtain a permit each time they parked the vehicle on public streets overnight.

City Council President Scott Peters and former council member Michael Zucchet introduced the ordinance early last year based on concerns both about aesthetics and safety. Recreational vehicles can block views and clutter neighborhood streets, as well as creating dangerous blind intersections by obstructing drivers’ vision, they argued.

When the city parking board approved the ordinance, they recommended it be implemented as a pilot program in one or two neighborhoods in the city to test its effectiveness and enforceability. They declined to select a neighborhood for the pilot program, and the proposal was sent along to the mayor’s office. George Biagi, spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, said the mayor’s office is not ready to make a proposal to the City Council regarding a possible pilot program, but could be ready to do so within the next month.

“The mayor’s policy team is reviewing the proposal from the Parking Advisory Board and gathering cost estimates (for the pilot program),” Biagi said. “They’re looking at whether the best way to proceed is a pilot program in one neighborhood or district or if it’s more feasible to go citywide.”

Biagi said that the mayor’s office is estimating that it would take five full-time employees to run the pilot program if it were implemented in one neighborhood.

“So you could imagine that if it were done citywide, it would be significantly more,” Biagi said.

Peters is pushing for the pilot program to be located in La Jolla. He said most of the problem with oversized and non-motorized vehicle parking occurs in the coastal areas of the city. Residents of Coast Boulevard in La Jolla have appeared at several meetings of local government to complain that recreational vehicles have been parked permanently on the street for years.

“La Jolla is a beautiful place to live and we don’t get a lot of complaints,” Peters said, “but one thing we hear over and over again is, ‘People have come and set up a home on my street.’ La Jolla is getting a unique impact from these things, so I think it’s an appropriate place to start out an experiment.”

Biagi said that several council districts have asked for further study on the matter and that the issue plays out most heavily in District 1, which includes La Jolla, District 2, which includes Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, and District 6, which includes Mission Bay and Balboa Park.

The new ordinance would have no parking time limit for oversized and non-motorized vehicles from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but would prohibit parking the vehicles on the street from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. It would require residents and guests to obtain overnight permits.

The overnight permits would allow recreational vehicle owners to park the vehicles in front of their homes as they prepare for trips. Recreational vehicle owners would register for the program in person, then would be allowed to access an online permit issuing system. A recreational vehicle owner could buy multiple permits per transaction, each good for eight hours, at a cost of $3 per permit.

The permits would require proof of residence and that the vehicle be parked directly in front of the residence. The permit program would allow for up to 72 overnight stays per year with a maximum of three consecutive overnight stays per permit. A minimum of one night away after three consecutive overnight stays would be required before the next permit is used.

The parking advisory board chose not to recommend an alternate proposal that would have allowed recreational vehicle owners to obtain an annual permit for the overnight stays, instead of the per-use permits.