Letter to Towns
Letter to send to towns that are eliminating or restricting overnight parking
(You'll want to personalize/modify the items in blue). See below for information on joining the group
Dear Mayor _______ and members of the _______ City Council,
I see from online news reports that you're evaluating amendments to the Municipal Code.
I'm an RVer (though not a "full-timer") who is active in several online RV-Related discussion groups. Some of these exist primarily to allow RVers to share information on locations where RVers are or aren't allowed to park overnight, for one night only, while on a long journey to a distant destination. I operate/belong to one of these discussion groups, the "OvernightRVParking" Yahoo Group.
When an RVer is on a multi-day trip to a distant place, it's important that he/she not drive while tired or sleepy. Thus, it's equally important that the RVer be able to stop, park and sleep for several hours in order to be able to continue safely the next morning. Many businesses have a policy of welcoming RVers who would like to park overnight in their parking lots for this purpose. Wal-Mart, Flying J and Cracker Barrel are probably the best known of these, but there are many others as well.
When an RVer's plans include only a stop of several hours to sleep, there's no need for such things as swimming pools, horseshoe pits, game rooms, craft classes, and the other amenities provided by many commercial campgrounds and RV parks. And there's no need to pay for those amenities, either, if one isn't going to use them. There are also issues when campgrounds aren't open all year, or when their office isn't open past the early evening hours to provide check-in services for RVs who may arrive late in the evening.
Thus, when communities pass ordinances that prohibit an RVer from sleeping in his RV for such purposes, RVers simply don't stop in that community. They'll plan their trip so as to stop overnight elsewhere, for example at a store in another town down the road, and they'll buy food, fuel and other supplies in the community where they stop. (It's a common RVer joke that "free" overnight parking in these places is anything but free -- we often spend far more on restaurant meals, fuel, groceries and other supplies than we'd pay to stay overnight in a commercial campground.)
From a community's standpoint, there is also the important issue of RVers who try to abuse the overnight parking privilege that is so graciously extended by many businesses. They don't park, they set up camp -- extending slide out rooms, unfurling awnings, and setting out lawn furniture and BBQ grills in the parking lot. This isn't parking, it's camping, and it isn't what these businesses intend. There are also those who instead of parking for a night will try to set up housekeeping for several days or weeks in a parking lot. This isn't what the host businesses intended, either, nor is it what a community wants.
I certainly understand the need for [ YOUR CITY] and other cities to take the necessary legal steps to prohibit the kind of abuses that I described in the paragraph above. However, I hope that you won't amend your ordinance in such a way as to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The majority of RVers are responsible, good citizens. When we need a night's sleep on a long journey, we graciously avail ourselves of the invitation to park overnight in a parking lot and get some sleep so that we can drive safely the next day. We wouldn't consider setting up camp and grilling out in someone's parking lot, and we're appalled at the thought of emptying our waste holding tanks anyplace but in a designated RV dump station.
RVers also communicate continually via the Internet. When a city or town passes a law that prohibits overnight RV parking, thousands of RVers know about it within days. The general reaction is this: "If Anytown, USA doesn't want me to park overnight there, I won't. But I also won't stop there, or buy anything there. I'll take my money and spend it in a city where I'm welcome." Two cities which have faced widely publicized RVer boycotts in the past couple of years are Laughlin, NV and Billings, MT. (In both of these cases, it was local RV Park owners who pressed for the overnight parking ban. In both cases, the adverse publicity led the cities to discard the idea of an outright ban in favor of an ordinance that prohibited the abuses described above while still welcoming responsible, good-citizen RVers to park overnight in their city -- and spend their money there.)
As you consider amendments to your ordinance, I hope you'll consider including the following:
- Please allow RVs to park overnight, for one night only, in parking lots of businesses who choose to allow it. You may wish to consider including a time limit such as 12 or 18 or 24 hours, so that RVers will have time not only to sleep, but also to purchase fuel, do some shopping and/or dine out in (name of town).
- Require that RVs that park overnight must be self-contained, including their own waste holding tanks.
- Paragraph "B," which outlaws dumping "gray water" (sink and shower drain water) or "black water" (toilet waste) other than at an approved dump station.
- You may wish to consider a requirement that RV's parked overnight as described above must be in "ready to drive" condition; that is, trailers may not be unhooked; motor homes may not extend levelers, slides or awnings; and nothing may be set outside the RV -- no use of grills, lawn furniture, etc. (The State of Wyoming allows RVs to park overnight in rest areas along highways and Interstates, and this is one of their rules. It works well, allowing the RVer to sleep when sleep is needed, while keeping irresponsible folks from setting up camp.)
I believe that if the City of (name of city) adopts this approach -- welcoming responsible RVers and their travel dollars while outlawing undesirable behaviors by the irresponsible few -- it will pay dividends in terms of positive nationwide publicity in the RVing community and more tourist dollars spent in your community.
Thanks and best regards,
If you want to participate in this group, visit
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/OvernightRVParking You will need to join first.
The Escapees RV Club provides a letter (or cards) that you can leave on the windshield of RVers who do not follow proper boondocking etiquette in parking lots. Download it