Occasionally, we feel as though there is a concerted effort to make it difficult for adventurers, such as ourselves, to find places to park our RV. It seems that aside from actual campgrounds, the number of locations that allow overnight parking is gradually decreasing. Historically, we could easily find a free place to rest overnight at a Wal-Mart parking lot, a truck-stop, or a rest stop. Signs dictating “No Overnight Parking” are becoming more prevalent.“Yes, but where are we going to park the RV and trailer?”
Additionally, even though I was aware that some cities had ordinances that prohibit parking motorhomes in residential areas, I had never personally experienced this. I believed that with the proper research and permits problems could easily be avoided. I was wrong.
Generally speaking, it seems that people have extreme feelings about RVs; they either love them or hate them. To some, they symbolize freedom; to others they indicate excess or kitsch. Regardless, when an RV rolls into a neighborhood, it’s going to draw attention.
When we decided to split the costs of a rental home for the month our Spanish guest was visiting, finding a place that would accommodate our motorhome was a priority. We searched through Airbnb and eventually found a house on craigslist. It sounded perfect, but would our RV kill the deal?
This was the first point we brought up with the landlady during our initial conversation. We gave her the dimensions of both the trailer and RV, as well as how long they were when hitched together. She said she’d check with the city, as well as the neighbors and get back to us. We were elated and more than a bit surprised when she informed us that everything would be fine.
“Well, it IS awfully big…”
We were there less than a week when two city zoning code enforcement officers stopped by. They asserted that RVs were not allowed in driveways and neighbors were calling and complaining; we had the weekend to move both.
We explained that we had the owner’s permission, that she had called the city and been told that it was okay, and that her neighbors had no problems with the idea. It was at that time that we were informed that officers never bothered enforcing the code unless they received complaints. They said it was unlikely that the neighbors had understood how big it all was, as there had been numerous complaints. It needed to go.
Over the weekend, we had several conversations with the owner—who coincidentally was out of town on business—she insisted that she had talked to all the neighbors and she was going to apply for a permit so we could keep both on the premises. So, we waited.
On Monday, the officers returned. I outlined the plan for them; they were not convinced. We were reminded that the neighbors (as it turned out it was one very vocal neighbor) were really bothered by the intrusion of our coach and trailer in their beautiful and tranquil community. (Keep in mind, we hadn’t run our generator or engine since we arrived.) Although they doubted permits existed, they would check it out.
An hour later, they told us that in special circumstances code enforcement could grant permission. They presented us with a list of information required including the makes and models, lengths of each, as well as the duration proposed, and asked us to email a written permit request. We were foolishly hopeful.
Overall, this bought us a couple of days. Friday of that week, the officers returned with the official citations; the request was declined. The city doesn’t allow business equipment (our trailer) in a residential area, nor RVs in driveways for more than 24-hours or parked on the street at all. We had the weekend to get them relocated.
Finding Alternative Locations
Once we realized that leaving them in the driveway was not an option, we began frantically looking for other accommodations. We had no intention of leaving them unattended in a parking lot or, as the landlady suggested, at the end of a cul de sac or dead end road where they could potentially be towed, vandalized, burglarized, or stolen. Unfortunately, we hadn’t budgeted for a month-long storage expense, so financially it was going to be tricky.After checking AllStays and Yelp, I discovered that the only storage facilities that housed large vehicles in the area charged up to almost 400-dollars for its largest units and they were 2-feet too small for our RV. Things were looking dicey and I was questioning “just how much would this ticket cost, anyway?” when a solution presented itself in the form of an extremely remote family member. She was more of a family member of a family member (only in the Midwest) with a rural address and a long double driveway.
When you’re planning to store something as large as an RV or trailer in the driveway, be sure to research the rules of the city, as well as the neighborhood. Contact City Hall yourself to verify the regulations; find out any fees or time limits involved. Truthfully, if we had known it was going to be an issue, we would have chosen to stay somewhere else entirely.
Incidentally, six days after we moved our rig, we saw a similar set up in the driveways of two different homes a few blocks away; one had a motorhome and the other had a huge cargo trailer. I guess it depends on who you are….