By Victoria Martinez
In the face of spirited opposition from more than a dozen citizens, the Buellton City Council has delayed enforcement of a new ordinance that controls where RVs, boats and trailers can be parked.
The new ordinance was approved in February after six months of discussion, and enforcement was scheduled to begin Sept. 1.
Instead, the council decided after public comment on July 27 that it would consider further changes to the rules. Mayor Holly Sierra expects the ordinance to come back to the council for further discussion by the end of August or September.
The previous ordinance, approved in 2008, allowed parking the big vehicles on a variety of surfaces in a variety of locations in the front and side yards of a residence. The new ordinance would allow them to be parked only in a third-car portion of a three-car garage, behind a fence, or on a pad of either pavers or gravel next to a driveway.
Regulations in other Central Coast cities vary. Solvang, for example, allows RV parking and trailer storage only in rear- and side-yard setback areas behind a six-foot fence; Goleta allows front-yard parking on any paved surface.
Residents shared a variety of complaints during the July 27 meeting related to the financial and lifestyle impacts of the new ordinance.
“My tent trailer doesn’t block anyone’s view of the scenery or the street, however under the new ordinance our lot is not big enough to store it and from what I hear there are no reasonable options for storing it. We’ll have to take it out of town, spend the money and not have easy access to it,” said resident Scott Aiken.
Some speakers described the issue as a much more personal matter.
“Our RV is the only real source of our family time and vacation for us. We cannot afford to put it in storage. Having a special-needs child makes it so we can only have a one-income household. It also limits us from going anywhere new as it sets off my autistic son,” said Sharon Parker. “Keeping this ordinance in effect will force us, as I’m sure many others, into selling their trailers and RVs.”
Resident Barbara Knecht was one of the few speakers who supported the new ordinance. She said that the City Council must often make tough decisions that may not please all parties.
“I believe this is why the council voted in January to change the ordinance back to the format that protects our neighborhood character,” Knecht said, noting that the new ordinance is similar to the RV regulations that were in place before the 2008 ordinance.
After Mayor Holly Sierra closed public comment, the City Council debated what direction to take for almost an hour.
“This is an overhand of government that’s not necessary in this community,” Vice Mayor Ed Andrisek said.
Eventually the council members agreed that more adjustments could be made to the ordinance, such as allowing driveway parking.
The meeting concluded with the City Council directing staff to look at how many existing storage conditions would not be in compliance if the regulations were revised to allow driveway parking, as long as the RV, boat or trailer ends two and a half feet from a property line. Rules for parking in rear and side yards remain similar to those adopted in 2008.
“Council listened and made some adjustments to the new ordinance, such as distance to neighbor’s fences and parking on driveways. We asked city staff to go out and get a clearer picture for us of the 60 plus or minus vehicles in question. We’ll have a better picture of what we can do to accommodate as many owners as possible without creating a safety nuisance or leaving them on front lawns as a nuisance to neighbors,” Sierra said after the meeting.
City Manager Marc Bierdzinski encourages residents to contact City Hall with questions or concerns related to their particular storage situations.
“I think many could be accommodated, but they have not asked,” Bierdzinski said after the meeting.
For more information, call City Hall at 805-688-5177.