Freeloaders have been enjoying multi-million dollar views for too long. One of the last vestiges of true American freedom is at stake. Huge vehicles and trailers are blocking traffic and clogging up San Diego's street arteries. Recreational vehicle and boat owners are being unfairly targeted by the City Council.
Just how a proposed ordinance on the parking of oversized, recreational and non-motorized vehicles is being received by La Jollans depends largely on the opinion - and the vested interests - of the individual.
The regulations were proposed by City Council members Scott Peters and Muchael Zucchet, who cited vehicle safety, community safety and neighborhood aesthetics as reasons for their action. The issue was discussed at an April 20 meeting of the council's Committee on Land Use and Housing, during which the draft legislation was debated by a host of concerned citizens groups including representatives of recreational vehicle owners and San Diego planning groups.
The proposed ordinance aims to:
- Prohibit recreational vehicles and other oversized vehicles and unhitched trailers from parking on public streets, park roads and parking lots for a period longer than four hours;
- Prohibit such vehicles from parking on public streets, park roads and parking lots between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. every day;
- Prohibit such vehicles from parking within 50 feet of any intersection; and
- Prohibit the placement of stationary storage containers on public streets, park roads and parking lots at any time.
Alongside these new laws will be increased enforcement of the laws regarding oversized vehicles.
Residents would be able to apply for temporary 48-hour permits to park recreational vehicles - for example, for visiting guests - to park outside their home. No more than six permits would be issued per residence each calendar year.
Julio Fuentes, a senior traffic engineer with the city, said the ordinance grew out of a multitude of complaints received citywide, including several from La Jolla.
One such complainant was Ted Gurnee, who lives on Neptune Street. He has been fighting an ongoing battle against recreational vehicle owners who park in front of his multi-million dollar oceanfront residence and, he says, obscure his view as well as blocking off the street.
"Our issues in La Jolla, or at least on Neptune, are the motorhomes that are abusing the privilege of the streets as if it were their private land," said Gurnee, "and park for days and weeks. The existing law is not suitable to stop them."
Across the street from Gurnee's house, Jeremiah Felactu, a Korean War veteran, often parks his motorhome in the 24-hour unlimited free parking at WindanSea Beach. Felactu, who splits his time between the motorhome and the San Diego VA Medical Center, answered questions about the new law through the screen window of his recreational vehicle in a voice that often shook with emotion.
"If they had any ethics or respect for others that lived on this Earth before us, they would stop and think," said Felactu, "because they are councilmen and they should preserve our freedoms, instead of trying to take them away."
Felactu argued that his payments to the Department of Motor Vehicles for the registration on his vehicle should give him unfettered right of way on the city's streets.
City Councilman Peters disagreed with Felactu's argument."I think that's wrong," he said. "The public streets are not intended to be parking lots. If you pay your DMV registration, that gives you the right to drive on the road. No one doubts that. But, it doesn't give you the right to use the streets as public housing."According to Fuentes, the draft ordinance, which was picked over at the Land Use and Housing Committee and was the subject of a City Manager's report in April, will now go back to the lawmakers who will try to accommodate the various groups lobbying to alter the legislation.
"We do believe that we have to have some sort of regulations," said Fuentes. "Ideally, we would have something that addresses, substantially, most of the concerns that we have and the community. ... We are looking for a happy medium."Peters said that such concerns include ensuring that recreational vehicle owners are given enough time to load and unload their vehicles before and after extended trips and that there is indeed enough storage available in San Diego for a sudden influx of motorhomes, boats and storage units.The ordinance will next be discussed at the July meeting of the Land Use and Housing Committee. Interested parties should contact Peters' office at (858) 236-6611 or Julio Fuentes at (858) 533-3092.For his part, Felactu knows how he feels about any ordinance that will interfere with his way of life."Leave us that are free alone. We don't need more individual laws," he said. "This is America. This is a reservation. La Jolla is a reservation."