LATHROP – RVs are as American as apple pie in the eyes of Lathrop Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos.
So why shouldn’t Lathrop residents be able to park them in their front yards?
It’s a question that the Lathrop City Council unanimously agreed to revisit Monday night after taking input from enthusiasts in the community who would like to see the law changed. It is a subject a previous council debated for nearly 8 months in 2003 before deciding not to touch the current city ordinance which prohibits them from being parked anywhere other than side or rear yards.
It was Santos that had the item placed on the agenda. He didn’t make any qualms about his position on the issue.
“This is their livelihood and their passion, and this is something that they bought with their own enterprise,” Santos said. “Who are we to judge? As long as it’s drivable and as long as it’s fashionable, so be it.”
While Community Development Director Glenn Gebhardt laid out the city’s stance not to change the current ordinance, it was a pitch made to Gebhardt from resident Chester Smith that had the biggest impact on the overall discussion.
Smith proposed that the city allow for recreational vehicles – which, according to the ordinance, are considered motor homes, camping trailers, boat trailers, boats, pick-up campers, fifth wheels or dune buggies – to be parked in front yards as long as they qualify for an annual permit.
Qualifying for the permit would require that the RV be driven to City Hall to show that it’s in workable condition. Proof must be shown that it be registered with the DMV.
Some of the biggest complaints about the current ordinance focused on the cost that comes with off-site storage and the hassle that comes with having to go back-and-forth whenever making a trip somewhere.
Jesse Perez talked about the three tickets he’s been issued after bringing his boat back home. The first was after a disagreement with a family member forced him to move it, the second time after his GPS and fish-finder system was stolen while in storage and the third time after his prop was ripped off from another storage facility.
But issues about line-of-sight – motor homes and coaches that can block the view of residents backing out of their driveway and even some who are coming around a corner – also top the list of concerns that will need to be addressed as well.
Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal said he realizes that residents are only 15 minutes from the Delta and that many of them would like quick access with their boats. He said he isn’t sure about the motor home portion of the debate, but it’s something that will be discussed when it comes back before them at a future meeting.
While Gebhardt initially proposed the idea of curbing the enforcement of the RV statute while it’s being discussed, City Manager Cary Keaten said that the city will streamline the process to get it back before the council as soon as possible. Gebhardt then informed those in the chambers that the city would use “discretion” in their enforcement.