San Rafael begins enforcing ban on overnight RV street parking

A new ban on RV street parking is causing an influx of campers from inside San Rafael city limits to outside. The ordinance took effect in September, making life more difficult for otherwise homeless folks who have campers to sleep in, but dwindling places to park them.

"I've got to move every 72 hours, keep everybody happy," Clifford Chick told KTVU as he maneuvered his aging motor home into a new parking spot, just a few hundred feet away.

On county roads, 72 hours is the limit for street parking, although Marin Supervisors may pass their own version of the RV crackdown.

Chick, a retired carpenter, says he can't afford an apartment or a space in an RV park.

"If you're on the edge and this is what keeps you from being on the street, then this is huge," he told KTVU, "because you're self-sufficient, and you can take care of yourself."

Until the ban, RV's congregated in some industrial areas near Highway 101, particularly on Jacoby Street and Anderson Drive.

Now, no parking signs line those streets, and business owners in the area say it's a big improvement.

"We all need to be good neighbors and this was not a healthy situation, " Patty Garbarino of Marin Recycling told KTVU.

"Cleaning up, we filled five huge dumpsters of material which included everything from furniture, discarded personal items, syringes, and drugs."

But the RV's and some of the problems simply shifted to the other side of the freeway and an
unincorporated stretch of Woodland Avenue near Auburn Street.

"I don't really feel sorry for them, I don't know how people end up living in RV's, " Lomita Park resident John Kozlowski told KTVU, looking out at RV's withing sight of his front door.

"I just wish there was a solution and they wouldn't be at our doorstep."

Among those who have migrated to the area, Dannelle Chick, Clifford's sister, who says she is a retired teacher, and would be homeless if not for her motorhome.

"They're not providing any place for us to be. They passed that ordinance to get rid of the trailer trash or homeless. but seriously, would you rather sleep in a bush or something like this?

San Rafael leaders defend the ban, and the unintended consequence of shifting campers onto other streets.

"Perhaps there is a better approach, perhaps to provide parking to those who need it at some location, yet to be determined, " Mayor Gary Phillips told KTVU.

"There probably is a better approach, but we had to do what we did."

Phillips noted that other similiar bans in surrounding jurisdictions were sending a surge of RV campers in to San Rafael.

Some cities, such as Santa Rosa, offer vehicle camping overnight near a shelter- with restrooms, hygiene, food and heaters.

Mayor Phillips says it's an idea worth pursuing, but the challenge will be finding a location everyone can live with.