Complaints from Priest River, Idaho, residents at the October 1 city council meeting again raised the issue of people living in RVs fulltime within the city limits. This prompted the start of a discussion of its occupied RV ordinance earlier this year.
“It is a decision on the council whether or not we say these are allowed, yes they are allowed or they are allowed under certain circumstances and not under others,” said Mayor Jim Martin, reports the Bonner County Daily Bee.
“These are definitely less than 1,000 square feet,” city resident Jan Barbarino said about the zoning ordinance that states that single-family dwellings can be no less than 1,000 square feet. “They are not intended to be lived in full time.”
Martin said it is possible it could be enforced through zoning, but it is a definitional issue as the ordinance addresses manufactured homes, but not RVs.
Katie Elsaesser, the city attorney, said part of the problem is verifying the RVs are being lived in full time. But the court may throw out cases that do not have enough proof of full-time residency.
Council members looked at the city of Newport’s ordinance, which states that “only structures built and maintained in accordance with the provisions of the International Building Code … and approved mobile homes may be used as residential dwelling units.” Newport has designated areas for RVs, such as a trailer court or RV park, said Councilman Doug Wagner.
“If we outright go with something like Newport … we have to be able to enforce it 100 percent of the time,” Elsaesser said. “It can’t be pick-and-choose.”
That brought up the question of short-term RV stays, such as family members staying for a couple of weeks, or even RVs that have been on recreational lots along the river for 20 years. While those are typically only occupied a few months of the year, if the ordinance was worded similar to that of Newport, the city would have to enforce the rules on those as well.
“It is really difficult to find something that works to get the problem taken care of that doesn’t affect those that aren’t a problem,” said Councilman Greg Edwards.