Carson City Supervisors look at ‘curbside cobweb holders’

Boats and utility trailers, based on a Thursday discussion, will be added to an ordinance restricting long-term parking of recreational vehicles (RVs) on Carson City streets.

That was one of the directions the Board of Supervisors gave staff regarding a problem stemming from rising complaints about towed vehicles and RVs basically being stored in public right-of-way on residential streets around the community. But it wasn’t the only directive. Members also said a loophole should be closed so that just moving such vehicles a bit doesn’t let people continually avoid time restrictions.

“I see cobwebs on the wheels,” Supervisor Lori Bagwell said of some RVs or towed vehicles she has checked while cruising neighborhoods and assessing the problem. “Somehow there’s a loophole that people have figured out.” Bagwell also called it a public safety issue, saying large units on residential streets can block drivers’ sight lines or cause problems for others backing out of driveways.

Seven people gave public testimony during this preliminary phase of the possible ordinance revision, giving various insights or opinions regarding the problem or solutions. Mike Drews, who owns a boat and a utility trailer, said he has no problem with adding those towed vehicles but warned some hidden and unintended consequence could develop as unit owners react, depending on how the so-called loophole is closed and the length of time restrictions imposed.

“Five days in the summer makes a lot of sense,” he said, indicating the current 72 hours, or three days, in winter and 120 hours, or five days, in warmer months now in the ordinance could continue working. Drews, well known in city government circles as a member of the Historic Resources Commission, didn’t feel the same about a possible definition regarding restrictive loading and unloading language.

Community Development Director Lee Plemel, who made the presentation on the current city ordinance and explained the problem, offered four possible alternatives for an eventual board decision. He also indicated part of the enforcement problem is courts aren’t willing to take action without proof from codes a unit hasn’t moved, a difficult task given other duties.

Plemel’s first ordinance revision recommendation was to add boats and towed utility trailers, with which no one quarreled. The final possibility, he said, was no change. Of the middle two, one would restrict on-street parking for the units to “active loading and unloading,” the language Drew criticized, and the other would restrict such units on city streets to three consecutive days in any month, except during active loading and unloading.

Among others testifying was Coleen Schiller, who suggested monitoring vehicles by gross vehicle weight and preventing them on city streets overnight. “My gripe is with the long term storage of (recreational) vehicles (on streets),” she said, citing one she’s sure hasn’t moved in two years.

Also testifying was William Birk, who said the problem is code enforcement mainly operates based on complaints and sometimes not even then. Birk said there are only two city codes enforcement workers. “If the sheriff’s department or codes get active,” he said, “these things will go away.”

Bagwell and Supervisor Jim Shirk sought the review and possible ordinance change due to complaints they have received. Supervisor Brad Bonkowski, meanwhile, asked about people who stored RVs but bring them home one weekend to load them all week and leave on Friday for long trips. Mayor Robert Crowell suggested rather than a 72-hour winter and 120-hour summer window for street parking of units, perhaps 120 hours year around makes more sense.

Plemel and others on staff will take the Thursday direction and draft an ordinance revision for a later vote. The staff members’ effort will work toward points in the discussion and their understanding of the board’s consensus view.


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