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City may remove restrictions on RV parking

Jill Lufrano

About this time every year, recreational vehicles in every shape and size start bedding down for the winter in Carson City on streets and in driveways, quickly becoming unwanted neighborhood fixtures for some people.

The vacation homes on wheels are parked for months, blocking views, hanging out of driveways, or even getting parked on lawns. The city receives several complaints every year around this time about the issue, a planning official said Monday.

About 18 months ago, city officials revised rules for parking RVs and unoccupied mobile homes, prohibiting them from being parked in the front yard setback of a house. The rule was supposed to be taken back out of the city code before it became final, said Community Development Director Walt Sullivan.

Because staff inadvertently overlooked it, the restrictions remained in the code and are still in effect – at least for now.

City officials may remove the restriction to find other ways to address the problem in the next few months.

“We thought that would become an enforcement nightmare because everybody does it now,” Sullivan said. “Where do you cut it off? Who is grandfathered, and who is not?”

Part of the problem already involves who responds to which complaint. If an RV sits on a street more than seven days, the sheriff’s department can enforce the code. If it sticks out of a driveway and forces a pedestrian to walk into the street to pass it, the city’s engineering department responds. If a semi-truck is parked on a residential property, the city’s planning department gets involved, Sullivan said.

Since the restriction was added, only one complaint has resulted in action against an RV owner, Sullivan said.

“It is on the books. However, we’ve only had one person call about it and really bring it forward,” Sullivan said. “That’s where we said ‘whoops, this shouldn’t be in there.'”

Resident Gil Yanuck in the Lakeview area said he thinks removing the restrictions would be a mistake. RVs block the views of pedestrians and drivers, posing safety issues, he said.

“Is it going to take a child being hurt or a senior being knocked down before you realize how important this ordinance is?” Yanuck told the city’s Board of Supervisors last week. “It’s the only stick we have now to prevent people from inadvertently parking out in front.”

Owners of local storage properties said one of the problems facing RV owners is the increase in RV and fifth-wheel vehicles in the area, coupled with the lack of rental storage space.

Jeff Forster, manager of Desert Storage Co. in Carson, said the spaces he rents for $40 a month, or more for vehicles longer than 30 feet, are full. He is looking for another storage area to purchase, he said.

“I turn people away like crazy from October to January,” Forster said.

A high-end RV storage lot will open in about a month and sell enclosed, heated spaces starting at $300 a month. Phil Cowee, co-owner of Sierra Boat and RV Storage on Affonso Drive in Mound House, said the property will have 31 spaces for RVs or boats, catering to residents from Lake Tahoe to anywhere in the valley.

“There just seems to be a big need for this type of storage,” Cowee said. “We’ve had quite a number of people inquire.”

Mayor Ray Masayko said during a supervisors” meeting last week that if the public is interested in debating the restrictions, he would like to consider it at a future public meeting.

Sullivan said he plans to spend the next few weeks collecting information then provide the Planning Commission with a briefing about the issue at its January meeting. The issue may be brought back to the commission in February, he said.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.