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Paso Robles bans extended RV street parking

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If you own a motor home in Paso Robles and like to store it on a city street, you better start looking for a new place to park it.

That’s because the Paso Robles City Council voted 5-0 on April 19 to introduce an ordinance that will make it illegal to park recreational vehicles (RVs), campers, and utility vehicles on city streets without a short-term permit.

The code requires vehicle owners who want to park RVs curbside for a specific reason to obtain a parking permit from the police department, valid for 72 hours. After the permit expires, the owner has to wait 30 days before receiving another one.

With the Paso Police Department bombarded by complaints from residents regarding parked RVs, the council directed Paso Robles Police Chief Robert Burton in September to devise an ordinance addressing the issue. Residents point out that parked RVs and utility vehicles pose a safety threat because they narrow the roads and create blind spots for drivers and pedestrians, as well as reduce the availability of street parking.

“Complaints to the police department are very routine and keep our staff pretty busy,” Burton said.

Existing city code for RV street parking only requires that a vehicle be moved every 72 hours, which is easily circumvented by owners, who move them just a few feet to remain in compliance, Burton said.

The City Council initially expressed surprise at the high number of complaints from residents about the issue.

“It was kind of amazed that we had that many calls,” Councilmember John Hamon said, with Mayor Steve Martin nodding in agreement. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”

Kathy Barnett, a Paso resident and proponent of the ordinance, gave voice to the locals who wanted stricter regulations on RV parking in the name of street safety.

“I am not one to call code enforcement on someone who’s got their RV parked in their driveway—but the public street is something else,” Barnett said. “For me, this is a safety issue. This is not a get-rid-of-ugly in my neighborhood. I worry about how an ambulance would get to my house.”

The city plans to put up signs at the main entrances to Paso to inform incomers of the new policy. Chief Burton expressed hope that he can facilitate compliance from violators before issuing citations and towing vehicles.

Burton also emphasized that the ordinance would only regulate street parking, possibly quelling any fears that the city is on a slippery slope toward the regulation of on-property parking.

“There are codes that are very stringent in some cities where not only do they regulate on-street parking, but they also regulate off-street,” Burton said. “What were trying to do is resolve the on-street issue, and not go as far as trying to regulate how people store them on their property.”

After the ordinance’s second reading on May 3, it will go into effect after Aug. 3. The three months grants the city time to get the word out and RV owners time to explore parking options for their vehicles.

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