RVs seem to be growing exponentially in the Flagstaff, Arizona, area, as in much of the rest of the West, and there don’t seem to be enough places to park them – either for a night or two or for students and contract workers needing month-to-month parking for their nearby construction jobs.
Also, the costs for RV parks in Flagstaff are now almost as high as renting a studio apartment. Kit Carson, Black Bart’s, Woody Mountain and KOA campgrounds all charge between $40-$49 per night, and between $780 and $1,000 monthly, including utilities, reports the Arizona Daily Star.
Vacancies are also a problem. These campgrounds usually only have a small selection of spots open for long-term users, with the rest for travelers staying just a few nights. This number gets even smaller during the winter when some parks close for the season.
But also some of the increase in RVs can be attributed to locals just wanting to save money.
In an Aug. 21 city council meeting, Flagstaff’s “vehicular homeless” population was addressed. According to the meeting’s agenda, of the 86 unsheltered households in Coconino County, 14 were residing in a vehicle of some type and 10 in trailers/campers.
One proposal that was brought up at the meeting was the idea of a “Safe Parking Program,” which has been implemented in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego. The programs provide a guarded parking lot for homeless individuals or families living out of vehicles. Restroom access is available as well as social service resources, which can lead to assisting the individuals out of homelessness.
Interim police chief Daniel Musselman said cities that have established safe lot programs have had complaints from nearby businesses and residences about the lot bringing in “more noise, trash and crime into the neighborhood.” Musselman also mentioned the high cost that the city could end up paying, noting that the San Diego Safe Space program ended up costing roughly $2,900 a year per parking space to operate.
“It was three years ago when I asked for the addendum on anti-camping ordinances,” said City Council member Eva Putzova. Since then, it’s been dragged for so long and we are now again just kicking the ball a little bit farther,” she said. “I just can’t express enough that we’re going from season to season and people continue being without a solution that would not criminalize their … needs to sleep.” Read more.