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Rocklin cracks down on RVs

New changes addresses accessory vehicle parking issue
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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A new ordinance enacted by the Rocklin City Council for 2011 seeks to crack down on residents abusing the city’s RV and other accessory vehicle parking rules.

City officials complain a number of complaints could not be dealt with because violators were, more or less, following the code.

“This is the single most frequent call I ever got was about RVs, boats and storage,” Vice Mayor Brett Storey said during the Dec. 14 meeting. “So I am glad we are typing this up.”

Rocklin Community Development Director Sherri Abbas told council that while the majority of citizens are following the rules, there are a number of people who try to circumvent the zoning ordinance by constantly moving their vehicles.

“This would then prevent what I call, shenanigans, of people moving their units back and forth from the driveway and the street,” Abbas said.

The amendment to the ordinance was approved unanimously by the council.

The city concluded that the previous ordinance did not clearly define the term “storage” for RVs, trailers, campers, boats and mobile homes that the city defines as “accessory vehicles.” Now the ordinance contains a definition of storage, which states “observed to be parked for a period of seven days, whether consecutive or intermittent, within any 30-day period in the front yard setback, street side yard setback or on the public street within 1,000 feet” of the owner’s property line. The key word being intermittent.

“The clock can virtually start at any time,” Abbas said.

People are prohibited from “living or sleeping or as a principal place of business operations” in the accessory vehicles.

The new ordinance amendment would make storage of an accessory vehicle, on private property within the front or street side-yard setback or in the public right of way within 1,000-feet if the property, for a period of seven days in any 30-day period, a violation of the municipal code.

A loophole was also written to allow an owner a 48-hour parking exception for loading, unloading and maintenance in the zoning code, and the vehicle code has a 72-hour parking restriction for parking on the street.

A particular clause that allows 48-hour parking for someone who can produce documentation that shows they are renting a storage place for their accessory vehicle caught the attention of the council.

“How are we going to know the difference between renting a storage unit versus a place that accepts an RV,” Storey said. “Many people have small storage units.”

Abbas said that will be up for interpretation.

“I suppose it will be a matter of the judgment of the code enforcement officer to look at the paperwork and decide whether, or not, it is adequate to meet the needs of the ordinance,” Abbas said. “If they show you a piece of paper that says you have a rented space at a mini-storage and we go back three days later and it’s still there, then odds are pretty good that they really don’t have a place to store their RV.”

The person would not be cited under that particular provision, according to Abbas. Enforcement officers are expected to use not only chalk tire markings but the vehicle’s odometer to prove it hasn’t been moved properly.

Other exceptions include mobile or portable structures for city, county, state and federal governments as well as construction site temporary offices. A motor home or mounted camper which is normally used for every day transportation, is mounted on a one ton or less pick-up, is not more than nine feet in height measured from the surface of the street is also an exception, according to the city.

The new ordinance also prohibits the parking of large commercial vehicles which they define as exceeding nine feet in height or 25 feet in length, a combined 35 feet if towed by another vehicle. The council did not discuss any changes in fines. The council was concerned the public would not be aware of the change in the rules.

“We don’t have a lot of code enforcement officers so we’re going to need the assistance of the public to make sure this gets implemented properly,” Storey said. “Particularly these days when there are a lot of homes for sale and the last thing homeowners want is an RV or boat parked out there.”

The city is now approaching neighborhood watch groups to get the word out. Rocklin resident Roger Peterson told the council he was in favor of the new amendment because he’s called code enforcement on his neighbor dozens of times.

“I’m really tired of seeing these 10 things parked across the street from me,” Peterson said. “If you want to get the public interested in this, just start citing people so that they realize that they’re violating a city ordinance because they do it with reckless abandon.”

The ordinance will take effect 30 days from the final reading, which is expected later this month.