Pacific City Council to rework RV ordinance

On Jan. 24, Pacific residents who park RVs or trailers in their front yards got an ultimatum – move 'em, or face the consequences.

The ultimatum came in the form of a letter, which Mayor Leanne Guier directed the City's code enforcement department to hand deliver to 70 homes.

The letters referenced a more than 40-year-old ordinance in the Pacific Muncipal Code that prohibits "motor homes, vacation trailers, boat trailers, camperettes and all other vehicles not in daily use" from being parked in front yards for more than 48 hours.

One of those who got a letter was Councilmember Gary Hulsey. He parks his motor home in his front yard.

Soon after the letters went out, Husley said, he became a focal point for riled residents.

"There have been about 15 citizens who have come to my door," Hulsey said. "They are upset, and a couple have threatened lawsuits."

In response to the hubbub, the city council directed that the ordinance be sent to the governance committee for retooling and then brought back before the council.

"It will not be enforced until we can do some revising of the code," Hulsey said. "(The council) wants it to go back to the governance committee. Most of the council agreed it's a bad ordinance."

The intial impetus for the letters reflected Guier's concern that a large recreational vehicle parked in front of a house could limit the line of sight for someone pulling out from a driveway and pose a safety hazard to someone walking or riding by.

So, to stave off the worst-case scenario — an injury to someone that could result in a lawsuit against the City — Guier ordered the hand delivery of 70 letters.

Building and Code Official Ken Barnett said the City's enforcement of the ordinance is nothing new.

"It's been enforced, we've just done it incorrectly," he said. "It had been enforced on a complaint-by-complaint basis, but the [City] attorney made it clear that if you enforce it with one person, you have to enforce it with everyone."

After delivering the notices, the City informed residents via its Web site and its informational TV Channel 21 that the violations would not be pursued until the council has had time to review the ordinance.

For Hulsey, it comes down to a basic property rights issue and to ensuring that the ordinance does not single out any class of residents.

"I'm not sure how we modify that without it being arbitrary and capricious and not targeting a certain class of people," he said. "It hasn't been enforced before because it's arbitrary and capricious. They'll have to put in all kinds of obstructions, buildings, hedges, sheds, the whole shot.

"And there has to be an objective issue; it can't be something that might happen," he added. "There has never been an incident involving obstructed vision (in Pacific)."

Hulsey said the ordinance also needs to be moved to the section of the Pacific Municipal Code that is concerned deals with health and safety issues, rather than zoning.

"If they're claiming it's a safety issue, it should not be in zoning and land use," he said. "It needs to be repealed from the zoning section and modified considerably."

Hulsey said he hopes that residents of Pacific turn out at the March 10 City Council meeting to say what's on their minds..

"I would like to get some more input from the citizens," Hulsey said.

The Pacific City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Pacific City Hall at 100 3rd Ave. S.E.

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