Councilmembers Sherri Lightner of District 1 and David Alvarez of District 8 opposed the final measure. Councilwoman Marti Emerald of District 9 was absent.
Some councilmembers said they were concerned that a citywide oversize-vehicle pilot program might be too costly and unwieldy to manage. But council president Todd Gloria, speaking for the majority, expressed fear that implementing a coastal-only pilot program would be unfair and push the problem of illegally parked oversize vehicles elsewhere.
Several RV owners argued that a punitive ordinance would be excessive, warning it could force low-income people, with no other alternative but to live in their vehicles, into homelessness.
As originally proposed, the oversize-vehicle ordinance pilot program would only have been introduced in the coastal areas of Lightner in District 1 and that of District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer.
Faulconer’s staff estimated that a coastal oversize-vehicle pilot program would cost $14,000 for signage, personnel and other up-front costs, versus $44,000 for a citywide program. Staff estimated another $20,000 would be spent for public outreach on the new pilot program.
“Rarely does everything work right the first time. And with a city as large as this, costs will be larger and it will be more complicated implementing a citywide pilot,” said Faulconer, who had proposed restricting the pilot program to the coast, and whose staff has labored for years hammering out the particulars of a workable oversize-vehicle ordinance. Under the pilot program, parking RVs and oversize vehicles like motor homes, vans and trucks with trailers would be prohibited between 2 and
5 a.m. without a permit.
The program allows RV owners to apply for a free annual permit to allow them to park on the street at their residence for up 72 hours at a time four times a month. Residents can also apply for a similar 72-hour permit for guests up to six times a year.
While bowing to the will of the City Council majority, Faulconer cautioned, “We need to implement an ordinance that works.”
Conceding that oversize, illegally parked vehicles are a citywide problem, Faulconer added, “They take up valuable parking space in front of businesses and residences, blocking views, limiting access to driveways and are a major impediment to pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Gloria noted constituents in his downtown San Diego district didn’t feel safe walking where oversize vehicles are parked. Gloria also asked that the city’s Real Estate Assets Division look into finding places where RV owners could move to should they end up being displaced by the new oversize-vehicle ordinance.
Other councilmembers also weighed in on the pilot program.
“I’d ask that staff report a year after this ordinance is in place to see how we have done on the enforcement, and how happy the public is with the result,” said Lightner.
Councilman David Alvarez also stressed the need for citywide cohesion.
“We need to do this for the entire city, not just for one section of the city,” said Alvarez. “If these are the rules we’re going to live by in the city, then let’s keep the rules the same for everybody.”
District 7 Councilman Scott Sherman had his own take.
“Being an RV owner, I’m kind of torn on this issue,” he said. “How do we take care of the problem without punishing those of us who live by the rules?”
The new citywide pilot program for oversize vehicles will come back to the City Council in a couple of weeks for a second reading before it takes effect.