RVer concerned about overnight parking bans


letters to the editorBy Deanna Tolliver
We received a letter from California RVer Curt Dowd, who is concerned about finding places to “dry-dock” his RV in an urban area. With his solar-equipped motorhome he can live entirely off the grid. But finding a place to park has become increasingly difficult because of parking bans. Here’s what he wrote:

“My wife and I are thinking of getting rid of our RV because of the overnight parking problems in California.

“I have a Winnebago View and tow a Ford C-Max Energi (which Ford has stupidly canceled but what can you do). I had no idea what I was getting into buying an RV and I’m still learning. At this point, however, I’m pretty knowledgeable and the vehicles do what I had planned for them. However, my plan was always to dry-dock. Why spend [$150,000 for my RV and car] and then another $70 or more per night for an RV park when I’ve modified the electrical in the RV to live/work entirely off of my batteries. 

“I’m writing because my plan for building my business, and traveling with my wife, is fading, as Walmart and others make it impossible to park an RV overnight, at least in California. I believe the underlying cause is the homeless using RVs for living. Almost across the board now, California cities are attacking the use of RVs on the streets, especially overnight. Those of us who want to dry-dock, maybe stay somewhere a week or ten days, or even just overnight, are caught in the crossfire.

“I WANT TO KNOW IF THERE IS RESISTANCE GROWING IN THE RV COMMUNITY TO THESE BANS ON PARKING? Maybe the full timers aren’t bothered because they live in a park and that’s it. But the rest of us are in trouble. I also personally don’t want to harm the homeless who are merely victims of an economic and political realignment that has left them powerless and marginalized, unable to afford housing. One big problem is that every city or business wants to push the homeless somewhere else. It seems that establishing public RV parks on vacant properties would be simple to create and manage. Miscreants who dumped unlawfully could be fined or worse. There are solutions. But is there a resistance movement, anything political going on to address these issues? If so, I want to join. —Curt Dowd

Readers, what do you think? Should RVers be allowed to park overnight in neighborhoods? Do you care if they park in YOUR neighborhood? What about in store parking lots? Is someone considered homeless if living in an RV is their only option? Do you perceive an issue with the homeless living in RVs in your part of the country? Your thoughts?

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Wow…a lot of angry people. I live in California. I am currently rvless…having sold my tiny motorhome last fall. I get the problem. Storage unit rent here is very costly…that itself is hard enough..but parking? I found fab places to park on federal campgrounds….primitive and beautiful…and inexpensive with my senior access pass. My small footprint made that possible. I took out my standard rv toilet and went with composting. I increased my grey water and always dumped legally. I also found spaces in peoples rented driveways via air bb…where rv parking is legal. Large rv s are part of the problem. They stand out. I kept it tiny…and am currently looking at my replacement options.
I will make the next rv self contained and even smaller. There are no easy solutions sans the suggestion Chuck has made here…to expand the availability of safe affordable access to temporary parking spots. Cd



You are the reason the bans are going into effect. If you want to be a homeless recluse – buy 5 acres in the middle of no-where and live forever – but do not expect to park in front of my house – ever!


Dan, another point I failed to mention. When your parked in my neighborhood for ten days, off the grid as you say, what are you doing with your waste,ie, holding tanks and trash? Those holding tanks on a View are tiny, maybe a few days at most. Dumping your excrement on my street will probably end with you being thrown in the slamemer or you being lynched by the neighbors.

Donald Fredericks

California has sanctuary status and the homeless can put up a blanket along side the road and call it their home or sleeping in a car. Regardless if it is in running condition or not.. Just follow the miles of so called homeless along the frontage roads of LA as an example. I would assume if you live in a RV you maybe otherwise homeless. Therefore you should be able to park along side a road and claim to be homeless also and receive the same privilege of free parking. You are just the upper-class homeless. Take that to the judge with your ticket. I am sure there will be an attorney around to agree with you.

James Ek

I have never considered parking in a residential area except to load/unload my RV. I have stopped at rest areas and truck stops but even truck stops are becoming hostile to RVs because they are working and space is limited. So, no more truck stops over night. However, there is dry camping at national parks and “Boondockers Welcome.” It’s the “week or ten days” part that seems odd. Overnight is one thing – an exception caused by momentary need or dangerous fatigue. A week or more is quite another. That seems abusive to me. I do see neighbor’s relatives arrive in their RV and stay a few days in front of their house. But that seems unnecessary. Folks just don’t think about or care about other’s sensibilities. No, I don’t want an RV parked near my house for a week. I feel guilty when I have to park in my drive for a few days to do normal maintenance.


Safer? I really doubt that. The reason so many of them have closed is because the areas turned into crime havens. Yes, some have closed due to economic reasons or big decreases in population, but that is not the normal. If the area was still safe, smaller businesses and restaurants would move in, in the place of the corporate owned stores.


Had to laugh since he is capable of living off the grid that someone or some business owes him a place to park…..GEESH, sounds entitled and ignorant .

From what we’ve seen of these entitled ones, I wouldn’t want them to live/camp on our property either.

We live off the grid 90% of the time and finding a place to live daily is our problem not the fault of anyone, but our choice….we do research!


Dan, you are no better then the homeless. Only difference is that you have an RV instead of a box. Where do you get off that there should be some kind of resistenance movement to force private property owners to give you free camping on their property. If you are that bad off, maybe you should work camp.


A lot of the comments are missing the point. I can afford a campground for the night but there may not be one in the area I want to be in or likely it’s full. Why can you park a car on the street overnight but increasingly its illegal to park an RV overnight? Multiple nights is wrong but one night?? And yet that is the way city ordinances are written. When Walmart ends overnighters and the campgrounds are full where are you going to go? I believe the long term trend will increasingly be towards B size RVs and increasingly looking less like an RV to allow “stealth” overnight city camping.

Mike Stanley

Our community has had a street parking ban between the hours of 3:00 am and 5:00 am for over 40 years. It’s not a new phenomenon.


I’m finding problems with that as well, and I’m not even in that area. Where I used to live, I had access to public land and plenty of peace and quiet. I was not full time then, and suppose I took it for granted as I believed that’s just how things were.
After two extensive ministry trips, working with homeless and otherwise disadvantaged in several states, I had a pretty good wake up call. I don’t see nearly there amount of public land back east, and just as much homelessness. With the same old socialogical mentality of sweeping them under the rug. Not only that, there was at least an awareness of nomadic lifestyles a few decades ago, now most people have no idea we exist! (Insert rant here in convincing Social Services and Social Security I am NOT homeless! I just live in my car to travel for work. Yeah, I can’t work right now…).
I like not having to pay so much for housing. That’s why I got rid of my apartment. I can better use that money elsewhere. Free camping is sometimes difficult to find in many areas, and takes some creativity. But there are just some days a few bucks have to be thrown down for a safe, clean spot. Even then, there is the occasional sheriff knocking on my car window, because somebody thought I was just another “homeless drug user”. Seriously? lol
I like to advocate for awareness for this lifestyle. But more and more, I’m finding the current thinking against us is turning from a stupid prejudice to a mindless mob mentality.
And I pray for the safety of all of us.

Hey, maybe we need to stop thinking of the changes, roll with them, and campaign for some of these empty lots to let us dry camp for a nominal fee? Treat it the same as any park permit. There’s a place in Wisconsin that went from free to $12 for two weeks. That’s still better than everything within 50 miles of that, at $45+/night off-season. And the Walmart there was ok for a bit, but not for a 3-month contract. The rest of the parking weren’t what they said – I’m sorry, but I don’t consider winter camping a 4 star hotel guys. Rofl
But there seems to be a lot of empty lots…

Jay French

Rolled thru California 2 years ago, plan was the Wine Country, Redwood Forest, SF & Carmel. Encountered attitudes unlike anywhere else & mostly not friendly.
Worse is I grew up in Marin County. (Everything has changed)
Unbelievable numbers of Street Camping (Tents) around bridges & particular stretches. Numerous RV’s parked haphazardly on any available public parking many appearing incapable of movement.
Worse is the number of Panhandlers who will accost you almost everywhere.
The Golden State it isn’t & we will never make the mistake of returning to that desolation of good sense.
But outside of having to deal with the locals & Illegal transplants, the Wine Country was excellent, (bought a few cases) Redwood Forest majestic, excellent restaurants in SF, watched 2 professional ballgames at AT&T ballpark which was great plus the ride along Highway 1 was fantastic.
Favorite experience was an encounter with 2 Spanish only speakers who were discussing us as potential victims, they were shocked when they discovered I spoke Spanish fluently & informed them I was armed.

Robert Pulliam

In his own words, he would like to stay on private property a week to ten days or just a night. His attitude is one of the many reasons we are losing the ability to stop overnight at Walmart or any other private property. He thinks because he invested $150,000 in a RV and toad he should get FREE camping. Is he the only one in the RV community who has invested a large sum of money into the RV life style? I don’t think so, as a matter of fact based on what I see in the campgrounds and resorts around the country he got off very cheap. Of course based on his letter he seems to pattern himself after Ebineezer Scrooge with his cheap skate attitude. I too would love to get free camping, but I learned about 45 years ago this life style isn’t free. He needs to go out into the desert and use his solar and batteries to his hearts content.


Lots of strip malls vacated by retailers. May offer resolutions to RV off street parking.