According to city code, recreational vehicles and trailers can park on Gearhart streets but their owners can’t sleep in them.
But police had trouble enforcing that rule. A local judge rejected a violation after explaining that “appearance of use” — in this case, sleeping — has no bearing. The violator can simply say he isn’t sleeping or eating in the RV under current rules, Police Chief Jeff Bowman said in March.
A bill at the state Legislature, which has support from the American Civil Liberties Union and advocates for the homeless, would make enforcement impossible, he said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “The approach I was doing is kind of going down in defeat,” Bowman said.
Instead, Bowman offered an alternate plan to regulate RVs and trailers by using the city’s parking rules.
The proposed ordinance states no RVs or trailers may be parked or stored on blocks, stands, leveling supports or utility hook-ups attached. Pop-ups or portable generators may not be running.
Parking on city streets remains limited to 48 hours.
“This new ordinance has nothing to do with sleeping, because if it did, we’d probably be in violation of state law,” he said. “It’s not a sleeping or eating issue, it’s a storage issue.”
The City Council approved an amendment to another RV-related ordinance, allowing property owners to obtain a permit twice a year for occupancy up to 96 hours.
RVs cannot be parked in the public right of way and the permit may be revoked by the police chief or enforcement officer.
Mayor Matt Brown and city councilors unanimously endorsed the amendment.