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Council favors new rules to keep RVs from parking on Longmont streets

Longmont wants to get recreational vehicles off of the city’s streets one way or another.
Credit: Gordon Severson

LONGMONT, Colo — City council members late Tuesday night agreed to back a proposed change to an existing ordinance that would prohibit RVs from parking on public streets and property. The motion passed by a 4-3 margin, with Mayor Brian Bagley and Councilmembers Tim Waters, Marcia Martin and Joan Peck voting for the idea.

The toughened ordinance, which will come back to council for a formal vote, was recommended by city officials who say there has been a hike in the number of RVs abandoned on city streets. The vehicles often attract junk and garbage and are leaking fuel and other hazardous materials into the city’s water supply.

“There are those who are living in RVs who don’t want to pay rent and utilities,” Peck said. “I don’t think we should allow them to live on our streets as well.”

The council also asked staff members to set up a system to inform RV users with ties to Longmont about the new proposed restrictions and to give them three to six months to find another spot for their vehicles or to get other housing.

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“I want them to have some warning before they are thrown out of town,” Martin said.

Council also agreed, by another close margin, to work with Boulder County officials to explore setting up a safe lot program for RVs in the 1200 block of Alaska Avenue. The lot would be for residents who are working but cannot afford permanent homes.

The RV safe lots would be similar to an existing program run by Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, or HOPE, in which a local church opens up its parking lot for people living in their cars or pickups and who have been forced out of their permanent homes because of a job loss or other circumstances. 

“It would be used for Longmonters who are looking for a little permanence,” Peck said.

Other council members objected to pushing ahead for the ordinance change without a firm RV safe lot program in place.

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“I am happy to make the ordinance more strict if we have an alternative for folks,” Councilman Aren Rodriguez said. “But I can’t support making the ordinance more strict until we have something more tangible.”

The proposed ordinance is in line with similar restrictions in other cities including Denver, Greeley, Louisville, Boulder and Westminster, officials said. It also would include some exceptions including for loading and unloading. People also could apply for permits for a limited stay in a neighborhood.

The existing ordinance says an RV must be moved after being parked 48 hours in one location. 

Deputy Public Safety Chief Jeff Satur said the existing code allows RV users to just move their vehicles around the city after a 48-hour period. Satur told council of one RV owner who removed the engine from the vehicle and towed it using his car.

“As long as it moves around, he is within the law,” Satur said.

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