May 23, 2007

Letter to City Council re Private Property RV parking

Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 11:27:00 -0700
To: "Todd Rogers, Lkwd City Council"
From: " | Lakewood Accountability Action Group"
Subject: RV/Trailer private property parking code revisions
Cc: "Todd Rogers, City Council" , , "Joe Esquivel, City Council" , , "Larry Van Nostran, city council" , , "Steve Croft, city council" , , "Diane DuBois, City Council" , "Jack Gonsalves Dir. Comm. Dev." ,

May 22, 2007
Total of 5 page(s) via e mail
Lakewood City Council

Re: RV/Trailer private property parking code revisions
Dear Councilman Rogers:

I wanted to summarize my thoughts in a letter rather than taking up time in the last two city hearings I have attended on this issue. From the Press Telegram report today it does appear that the Council is capitulating on the reform of the code as to the private property parking issues, which LAAG feels will likely result in further relaxations of the existing code not recommended by the Planning Commission and which will have the effect of nullifying the November 2006 election results.

Election issues:

Only the complaining RV (RV includes trailers and all other devices addressed in the 11/06 ballot proposition) owners come to these meetings, not voters, as the general rule is those with money to loose come out and are more vocal. People don’t like to complain about aesthetics but it is annoying. I laughed when one of the pro RV people said “we are the voters”. Well true but there are only 7,000 “RV voters” at most and they were clearly outnumbered in the election.

I think the one issue that is clear is that the voters (the vast majority of which are non RV owners) do not want these eyesores on the street. So clearly it does not make much sense to move the RV’s ten feet into the driveway. La Palma was faced with the opposite situation in 2005. There restricting private property parking would just have moved the RV’s to the street where there were no restrictions at the time. So clearly moving RV’s a short distance does not “remedy” the aesthetics issue.

We need to enforce the will of the voters. The law says it will go into effect July 1. If you suspend all private property parking regulations for months, the effect will be nullifying the election results and the will of the voters. The motor home owners have had 7 months to deal with the election so no delay is justified. Also all the city is trying to do is liberalize the code. If the RV owners want to delay the liberalization of the code then let the existing code stay in force. The requested moratorium is just a stalling tactic for the RV owners to rally the troops to nullify the will of the voters by better organizing and attacking the city at the city council level rather than at the election level.

Enforcement issues:

The overriding sense I get from listening to most people speak is that they did not know the law (an made no effort to find out what it was) and made some of these purchases and parking arrangements based on ignorance of the law primarily due to the fact that not all the parking rules were on your website (and still are not) and because of the city’s famous “complaint driven” enforcement system. Had enforcement been carried out more consistently and regularly then there would be less ignorance of the law. The best way to learn the law is to get a ticket for a violation. You should know that as a law enforcement officer. You also know that ignorance of the law is never an excuse.

Short of real enforcement the city needs to post diagrams like they have displayed at the last two meetings clearly delineating what is allowed and what is not along with measurements. Real photos of do’s and don’ts would also help. That is where the website comes in.

People complained that they bought a RV thinking that Lakewood was a “do whatever you want” type of city. Well that’s too bad. Laws change every year and negatively affect people all the time. Get used to it. They also used your moniker of “Times Change Values Don’t”. One could say that of the code. Times Change, but the code will stay the same, as it should.

Also some people take the position that it is their property and they can do what ever they want with it. Well if that’s true, then take the entire municipal code and throw it out. It is obvious that most RV owners at the meeting just did not give a damn about what their neighbors might think, knowing all the well that most neighbors are too nice to complain and just suffer due to one neighbors insensitivity to the world around him. These are the same people with loud vehicles and environment destroying contraptions. The just don’t care. The neighborhood and all public space is theirs to use as they see fit.

I think a lot of the problem is that many people are just plain lazy. That is why people don’t park in their garages. Too much effort to clean out the garage and open the garage door. People have also bought RV’s that are just plain too big to store on their lot. The RV’s square footage is about 1/3 of the size of their house. They spent their entire fortune on the RV (and now with gas at 4.00 per gal) they have no budget to properly store or accommodate them. So now its my problem? The conscientious RV owners are not the problem. Most of us can spot the problem RV owners just like we can spot the people’s who front yard and house is a disaster. Same people.

I also think the fines clearly have to be in excess of any monthly storage fees and have to be progressive. In addition you need to be able to apply the fine to both the vehicle and the property it is parked on.

This is also about money. Just like fireworks. People come up with all sorts of excuses and of course have to throw the “child” card into the mix. These people over spent and left no budget for storage and now feel that everyone public space and parking in front of their home is open territory for them to adopt as their own personal parking spaces.


Make no mistake about it: more 12 foot tall 8 ft wide vehicles in driveways is going to increase the likelihood that the fire department will not be able to access the rear yard as effectively as they could without driveway blockage. The more crowding on the lot the more likely that fires will be able to jump from house to house. Also don’t forget about all those gas and propane tanks on the RV’s and trailers. So really that is a concern for the non RV owner just as much as the RV owner.

Private Enforcement Issues:

The biggest problem we have is that the council may make some decisions that may greatly affect certain owners property values. The code should be written so that these homeowners can still bring private nuisance actions under civil code section 3501 et. seq. If the council is going to rely on a lax or complaint driven system then it should give homeowners the tools they need to fight blight on an as needed basis.

Quite frankly the council would have been better off not stirring up this mess. It should have added the private property parking restrictions to the ballot. Now that its too late and this Pandora’s Box is open. Leave the code as it is and allow those who object to it to file CUP’s when their neighbors complain. If there are only 65 complaints for on property parking then it seems to me that the CUP process may be less burdensome and less costly than the current process. Plus it would only involve the two interested opposing sides. This is really the same thing as a complaint driven system but it puts the burden on the RV owners as it should be.

Permit issues

Clearly this is ripe for abuse and manipulation. The permit system should allow motor home owners to pick the dates they want for a permit (say a fri and a tues for a weekend trip) and take no more days than they need. There should be a limit as to how many consecutive days, days per week and days per year that one can get permits for. Very simple process.

Allowing loading and unloading on private property is a good idea but I still think we need a permit process or we are going to run into the 72 hour enforcement problem again as some people will be in a constant state of unloading and loading. A game the permit process will end.

Also how will neighbors know when people have permits? They must be clearly posted on the vehicle at all times. Also how will property owners be able to check license plates to see that the RV is registered to that property?

Non RV’s and size issues.

The one issue not really addressed here and should be looked at (which is another reason the CUP process should be used) is the total number of vehicles on the lot, number of drivers residing there, the total size of all the RV’s and total lot size. Clearly a 14 foot tall 35’ RV is a bigger problem than a 14’ boat. If you fill the driveway with an RV all the cars and trucks spill out into the street and take away everyone else’s street parking. With all these vehicles on the street, especially work trucks, there will be more break-ins and thefts. This is clearly already one of Lakewood’s biggest crime problems (see our website for more on this issue) which is why Lakewood has almost twice the vehicle theft as Cerritos does where no overnight street parking is allowed.

Care and Use

Another issue that I heard over and over again is that “we use our RV all the time” Well I think most neighbors know how often they are used. I suspect that over 90% are used less than 5 times per year. Also most RV owners think that their RV is very attractive as is their parking arrangement. Again this is all very subjective and typically RV’s owners are more forgiving of owners who don’t maintain their RV’s or their parking site. Again these types of issues could all be dealt with in a CUP. I would love to see all those RV’s owners post a picture of their

Set back

None of the RV’s should be allowed to park forward of the front edge of the house as that is going to create problems for the few of us that park their cars in the driveway and have to back out across the sidewalk. We will be blocked from seeing anything as we back out. That 5 foot vision triangle is not going to cut it. This is the reason you have a front fence height limit of 42 inches. So you can see over it backing out in a car.

Sob Stories

I listed to the whole “parade of horribles” that would occur if there were any parking restrictions. When I was growing up in Lakewood we went camping in an 8 ft. cab over camper and had a 14” aluminum boat towed behind. (not the gross monstrosities sold today) All were parked on our property and we even installed a separate driveway and parking area for them. The fact that families enjoy using RV’s does not give the owners license to do whatever they want. The two issues are not related. Also one has to keep in mind that 90% of these RV’s are “recreational” vehicles, not cars and trucks people use for transportation. Most of these “toy” people have 5 or 6 vehicles. All of which they have to license, maintain and buy gas for. And most get poor mileage. So it is clear that these toys are just that…toys. The whole “way of life” argument is a side issue. If you can afford these “big boy toys” you need to be able to afford all the aspects of owning them. Not just gas costs to get to Glamis.

Also I wonder how some of these people that claim to be disabled are using RV’s. From what I now of RV’s they are a big effort to own, use and set up. Someone who is clearly disabled is not going to be able to do what is required to even use them properly or set them up at a camping area. If they can then being disabled should not prevent them from following the code in Lakewood.

Other issues to consider

Overnight sleeping in RV’s should never be allowed on or off the property. RV’s must be kept in road worthy vehicle code compliance at all times as well as licensed at all times. Also the registered owner has to match the house not just the city. Trailers should never be unhitched in a front driveway (beyond front edge of house) or street ever. Parking on front laws should never be allowed. Ever.

Front driveway fences obscuring RVs should cover at least 60% of the ht of the RV and not be transparent.

Work trailers and “work RV’s”

This is mostly a size/daily use issue. Also most companies have these vehicles parked at a yard and the worker drives there to get the truck. For those running businesses from their home this should be an issue on the business permit and or a CUP issue and or a state contractors license board issue.


The “aesthetics” part of CEQA is a big issue here. I think if this ordinance gets too liberal it is going to be subject to a CEQA challenge. So the existing negative EIR could be called into question as it was done for the changes the Planning Commission envisioned which I don’t see being adopted without significant relaxations affecting esthetics.

Edison right of way:

See attached story from the LA Times on that issue. I expect new fights on that front. Also I expect that new ordinances will need to be enacted due to fire, safety and noise issues for those whose homes back up to these proposed storage areas.

Local Storage:

I know that the city has done a survey of spaces available nearby. This need to be posted on the website along with pricing for the spaces. I really think we need to consider a “needs test” as to some of these claims that people cant afford to park their RV there. That is definitely an issue for business related trailers.

Citizen Committee:

If such a committee is started LAAG would like to have at least one of its non RV owning members on the committee. The committee should also be fairly balanced with RV owners and non RV owners that are concerned about aesthetics. I have previously volunteered in writing and in person as you know.


Lakewood Accountability Action Group

Cc: Council; Jack Gonsalves Dir. Comm. Dev.

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