With summer officially over, folks who took vacation trips are back to work. And, along with that, many recreational vehicles have returned to driveways and garages.
Some, however, are parked on city streets. And that’s the problem brought to me this week by a friend of mine. This individual, who shall remain nameless, noted that a neighbor had parked his or her recreational vehicle in the same spot for weeks on end. What, she asked, can be done about people like that?
It’s a common problem, according to Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves. Unlike some code enforcement problems, vehicle parking issues are handled through the Police Department.
Here’s how it works: Someone sees a recreational vehicle, trailer or boat and calls the city hotline. A member of the abandoned vehicle abatement unit – “even though these aren’t always abandoned vehicles,” Graves said – will respond and look into the situation.
“If we find they’re in violation, we will put a warning on the vehicle,” Graves said.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can call police because your neighbor’s boat or trailer is parked outside and you don’t like it. Modesto law allows for a recreational vehicle to be parked for up to 72 hours in a residential zone without a permit. The law is a little different for trailers that have to be hooked to something, which can’t be parked in a residential zone at all.
However, there are exceptions for both: Owners can get a permit from the Police Department to have a trailer, boat or recreational vehicle parked in a residential zone twice a year for up to five days each time. That allows owners to pack up their vehicles before heading out on vacation, or to unpack them upon returning.
There is a catch, though, Graves said. “It has to be parked in front of the house the permit is issued to.”
In other words, you can’t get a permit and then park your recreational vehicle down the street.
An officer responding to a call will issue a warning if he or she sees fit. The matter will be noted on a list, and the area will be rechecked in ensuing days to see if the owner has moved the vehicle.
If the vehicle remains in the same spot, if its registration expires or if it’s obvious it has been there for some time, the city can tow it.
In the majority of cases, Graves said, that’s not necessary. “Most of the time, they move it.”
In Modesto, abandoned vehicles – or those left for more than three days – can be reported to police at (209) 572-9511.