By Chuck Woodbury
We’re written a lot lately about crowded RV parks due mostly to record setting sales of RVs (a half a million this year) with virtually no new campsites to stay. Parks where ten years ago an RVer could drop in for a night or two on the spur of the moment now often require reservations weeks, even months, ahead.
Another reason for the crowded conditions are RVers who can’t afford a traditional home or apartment who rent or buy a cheap, old RV and stay months, seasonally or even year-round in RV parks.
But the problem goes beyond crowded RV parks to city streets crowded with RV dwellers. These people can’t afford to pay for space in an RV park, so they hole up on city streets. They use cell phones to communicate with each other about another place to stay after they are evicted from one location. “It’s a crisis,” Tom Myers, executive director of Community Services Agency of Mountain View told the The Mercury News. “We’ve never seen it like this.” His city, he said, averages more than three complaints a day about RV communities. “We have to be prepared that this will be the new normal for us. It’s a crisis.”
The The Mercury News’ article was subsequently printed in other newspapers. Here is part of what it reported:
Robert Ramirez lives in an old RV, parked curbside in an industrial section of San Jose.
He knows one day soon he’ll get that knock on his door. Police will politely ask him to relocate. Neither party will be happy, Ramirez said, but he’ll agree to move along.
It’s happened before, and he expects it will happen again — no matter how hard he tries to be a good neighbor and keep his vehicle and sidewalk clean. The 54-year-old lives on public assistance and collecting recyclables. “I have to do whatever I have to do,” he said.
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Bay Area cities are coming to realize what Ramirez already knows — parking tickets won’t solve the problem of finding a place to live. From Oakland to San Jose, officials are struggling to cope with a growing influx of RV dwellers seeking a safe, permanent place for the only homes they can afford. Read the rest of this article.
MEANWHILE, in Los Angeles, poor people and workers who cannot afford traditional housing are renting old, cheaply renovated RVs for up to $1,000 a month and parking them on city streets, moving only on police orders. Reports of sewage being dumped from these RVs and others on the street or in storm drains are common. Listen to the report from Marketplace about this that was aired on NPR:
Other, better-off RVers, but still dependent on earning extra income to survive, take jobs to afford their “rent.” Across the country, near Amazon.com warehouses, normally empty or almost empty RV parks are packed with RVers who work long shifts at about $11.50 an hour to help meet holiday sales demand. Read more.