Just last week, drivers could park RVs anywhere in the city. These abilities may soon be taken away if the Santa Cruz City Council approves the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance.
The Oversized Vehicle Ordinance prohibits parking of oversized vehicles, defined as vehicles over 20 feet long, or over 8 feet tall and 7 feet wide. Restrictions fall between midnight to 5 a.m. on any highway, street, alley, or city parking lot.
Once implemented, the ordinance would mainly affect those who live in RVs, a contentious issue among Santa Cruz constituents.
Supporters say that the ordinance will promote public health by controlling the amount of bodily waste in public spaces, reducing trash and litter, and addressing crime. Opponents say it is the latest of many attempts to punish the unhoused.
“It’s a building block and if we don’t start building something, people will just continue to suffer in Santa Cruz and that’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to our community as a whole,” Mayor Donna Meyers, who supported the ordinance, said in the meeting. “We could do better and we should be doing better but talking is not working, so let’s do something and this is one of those building blocks.”
Residents may obtain an oversized permit to park adjacent to their residence. Once implemented, the ordinance would mainly affect those who permanently live in RVs, as they have no permanent address.
Passed on a 5-2 vote, Council Members Sandy Brown and Justin Cummings were the two dissenting votes, but said they were in favor of the ordinance’s implementation of safe parking programs and mitigating the impacts of oversized vehicles.
“I just don’t see action coming out of this aside from the possibility of more RVs being towed and people losing their homes,” Brown said during the meeting.
The ordinance also comes with the motion to implement city-operated safe parking programs for unhoused residents living in oversized vehicles licensed and registered with the City. The programs will be implemented in three tiers, all prioritizing families with children, unaccompanied minors, and transition-age youths:
- Emergency overnight safe parking on City-owned parcels for a minimum of three vehicles to be implemented immediately.
- Safe overnight parking on City-owned parcels or other non-residential approved spaces for a minimum of thirty vehicles throughout the City to be implemented within four months of the passing of the ordinance.
- A robust safe parking program in partnership with service providers, health providers, and County partners. The following subpopulations will be prioritized: seniors; veterans; and those with a valid disabled placard or license plate issued pursuant to the California Vehicle Code.
Despite its passage, the ordinance will have to go through a second vote following additional amendments. If approved again, the ordinance can only become law 30 days after the second vote.