A reader asks for your input

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A friend of mine sent in this letter asking my readers for input with a problem they are having with the City of Simi Valley. Read on and give them any advice you might have for them.

Hey Brian, thanks for providing this blog as a venue for local citizens to make inquiries and express concerns about their neighborhoods and communities.

My wife and I have lived here at our house in the Fig Track in Simi Valley for over fifteen years. We initially purchased our home to accommodate our small business needs requiring extensive, spacious property in which we could store equipment. Following a career change, equipment storage was no longer necessary, so we began providing space to RV owners looking for RV parking. For well over ten years we (along with many of our neighbors who also own large properties) have offered this service.

This service has become all the more necessary in recent years since the city has passed strict ordinances prohibiting RV, trailer, and boat owners from parking their vehicles on the street. The city currently only allows RV/ trailer parking in front side yards on concrete, asphalt, or brick surfaces. As I understand current city code, no variation (gravel, dirt, etc) is allowed. As you might imagine, most RV/ trailer owners do not own property in compliance with these standards. I regularly receive calls from interested persons needing RV storage space.

It has recently come to my attention by a city code notification that RV/trailer storage in backyard areas is only permissible when owners store their vehicles in a carport or garage. Further, any homeowner extending their driveway into their backyard for RV/ trailer storage is also in violation (according to the notification). Due to this recent notification, RV owners storing their vehicles in properties in the Fig Track (as well as the rest of the city) must now seek very scarce and unreasonably expensive alternatives.

Some may express concern that providing such a service would create an eyesore for neighbors in the community. However, many properties in the Fig Track (including our own) extend back at least three quarters of an acre, and vehicles stored in backyards are not visible from the street. Such an ordinance seems unnecessary, superfluous, and troublesome for owners of trailers, boats, and RVs.

As homeowners for more than 30 years, we’ve paid property taxes and monthly mortgages for most of our lives. What business does the city have in regulating our backyard usage, so long as we create no health, safety, or aesthetic problems for our neighboring community? Are property rights disregarded? The owners of these vehicles have expressed outrage and concern over increasing impositions for vehicle storage. Why have these ordinances become ever more rigid and unreasonable? Have commercial RV storage facilities pressured local lawmakers to their own advantage? Do we have any recourse? We would very much appreciate any input from readers.

Sincerely,

Fig Track Homeowner

42 Comments

So, let's get this straight...there is no problem, there isn't any complaints, you can't see it from the street, and it is a private homeowner using their private property?

This seems like an abuse of governmental power.

But IF the city can show there has been problems in this neighborhood that might change my mind.

How did they find out about the RV's if you can't see them from the street? Google Earth?

Storage of someone elses property in a rear yard of a residential property converts a residential property to a commercial use. This is not fair to a neighborhood and should require City approval. The making of an extra buck because of large property isn't justified. Put in a lawn or pool and add something to the community. Junk storage doesn't cut it.

Several years ago, many people who lived in the Kadota Fig area of our community were really abusing their property by allowing everyone and anyone to park their RV, Trailer, boats, etc. It got to the point where neighbors were calling the city complaining forcing us to take action. We had one property owner who allowed a person with an 18 wheeler to park on the back of his property and every morning this person would start his truck at 4:00AM allowing it to “idle? for about 45 minutes causing the surrounding neighbors top go ballistic. (This was also the case along Los Angeles Avenue between Stow and Emery, which now has no parking signs)
When people are not courteous to their next door neighbor it opens up a can of worms for everyone. Take for instance the RV parking. I received a phone call from a resident (I think it was back in 2000) who said her neighbor had purchased a new RV to the tune of about $200,000 and instead of parking it in front of his house he parked it in front of her home blocking any view to the street. She personally requested the neighbor to move it to his side of the street, which he refused to do. She called me about the problem. I made the same request of him, and he basically told me to put it where the sun doesn’t shine…
Hence, an ordinance against RV parking on public streets.
Elected officials don’t sit around all day thinking up things to make everyone lives miserable. You do it to each other…..then you call us to fix the problem, which would be there in the first place if you were courteous to one another…
If you are going to turn your back yard into a “storage or parking lot? you have just become a business, and your back yard is not zoned for a business.

I thank the property owners that take the R.V.s off the streets. R.V.'s parked on streets are a hazards. I am shocked the City of Simi Valley doesn't have the insight to help you in your endeavor.

I do agree that eighteen wheeler trucks shouldn't be parked in backyards. As Barbara Williams has stated they are large "commercial" vehicles. R.V.s are not commercial vehicles they are owned by private citizens and being parked on private property.

Let's remember R.V.'s are for families. They are for families to go on vacation. For Grandparents to see the world before they die. They encourage family values. In a way the "R" in R.V. stands for Republican...

The R.V.s are still going to be in Simi Valley. The difference now is they won't have a safe place to store them. They will have to be dodged by small children on bicycles; forcing them into the street, to be struck by another R.V. trying to move every 48 hours.
It will be the decisions of the City of Simi Valley that caused it.

Just another example of the citizens solving a problem and the government coming in and severly screwing it up.

Thank you council member Williamson for your straight talk. I have some follow up questions though.

Did the city wait to enforce this law until new facilities opened? Would a homeowner be targeted if the city knew but nobody complained?

Thanks,

John Galt.

Hi John,
The City acted when the complaints were made. We didn't wait for private enterprise to open a storage place, however when they heard of the new ordinance, they certainly jumped on the idea...No homeowner was "targeted". The city is "reactive, not "proactive". Someone has to file a complaint before the city will act.
So, if you have an RV in front of your house, and it's yours, and you get a warning or a ticket, someone in your neighborhood filed a complaint...Does that answer your questions?
I hope so. Merry Christmas to you and your family....

Are the complaints public record? How do we request to see them? I would rather be able to work something out with a neighbor then get the government involved.

Thanks for answering questions,

John Galt

Gee Barbra, one guy is a first class jerk and you punish all of the RV owners in Simi. Did you ever think of enforcing the existing 72 hour parking limit before writing your new law. I can guarantee that after having to move that motor home every three days for a couple of weeks that jerk would have found another place to park.

I have a neighbor who in 2001 constructed a concrete pad in his front yard in order to comply with the law prohibiting RV parking on public streets. Six month ago he was forced to tear out this pad and construct a new one because of the new regulation. Apparently the original pad was on the wrong side of his property.

The city council has gone way too far in micro managing every aspect of our lives. The municipal codes are beginning to look more and more like a set of CC&Rs for some exclusive HOA.

What's up with the uneven enforcement of these codes? If I have to comply with them because my neighbor complains, why shouldn't the guy around the block also have to comply? Furthermore, a person could violate the law for years with no one complaining only to be cited at random any code enforcement officer. How are we to know how long we can get away with violating these laws without being cited?

Mr. Galt,
Sorry, but the complaining party is not a public record. Even if I were to call and ask for that information I would not be given the persons name. However, I can appreciate a good neighbor wanting to work things out on their own without government interference.

I have a newsflash for you Jimmy M…the City Council does not “punish? all of the RV owners in Simi Valley…because most are responsible RV owners. It’s obvious that you don’t get it. The police department has better things to do than ticket RV’s for violation of the 72 hour rule.
If your neighbor put in a concrete pad back in 2001 and actually went to the city and pulled a permit to do so, I find it hard to believe that the city is now telling him he has to remove it. I think you are blowing smoke and I am not taking the bait. Again, the City of Simi Valley is “reactive? not “Proactive? when it comes to complaints. Code enforcement Officers do not cite by random

When do you get to be mayor Mrs. Williamson? In other cities the council members take turns.

Can a homeowner park an RV in their backyard if they make a cement slab for it?

Why can't it be on the ground w/o cement? Is it a fear of oil leaking?

In 2001 my neighbor went to the building department with his plans and was told that no permit was required for constructing a concrete slab. He was also assured that this slab and his intentions to store his RV on it did not violate any city codes. That changed in January 2006 when the city adopted 9-34.040 (2. Additional uncovered parking for single-family detached dwellings beyond that which is required by this Chapter shall only be placed in a required side setback or in the required front setback alongside the driveway on the side closest to a side property line.). He was notified that he was violating this ordinance. He want back to city hall to contest the situation and was told “Sorry that is the law.? At that point he had no choice but to build a new pad and sense the original pad was now useless he had it removed.

Your right Barbra, I just don’t get it! Most RV owners are responsible and “The city is "reactive, not "proactive". Someone has to file a complaint before the city will act.? And yet the police department has better things to do than respond to the few complaints that do come in? And your response is to pass more laws for the police to enforce?

JimmyM

What RV law, if any, do you think is reasonable? Do you have a problem with the actual law, or just the method of enforcement?

Replying to Dribble... Where in the original letter was there a reference to JUNK being stored. I don't think $200,000.00 and $300,000.00 dollar rigs can be classified as junk. Maybe dribble lives in Beverly Hills.

Max

Thanks Barbra, I do alot of work throughout the city and especially in the Bridle Path area where there's quite a few horse trailers, motor homes, boats, toy haulers...,parked in back yards on dirt and sand. Not being a neighbor of theirs, am I able to file a complaint against these offenders?

This is being address to "Nobody"...The Mayoris elected to a two year term in our community. It has been that way for many years. The Mayor ProTem rotates, and currently, Michelle Foster holds that post.
Mr. Galt, I would suggest that you contact the city about the RV slab in the back yard. Make sure you get the name of the person you are speaking with at the city. And yes, you are correct about motorized vehicles parked on dirt. Its the enviroment we are concerned about.
And to Jimmy, I guess there is no answer that you are going to be happy with. I am trying to be reasonable with you and explain as simple as possible how the city works, but I don't think I am getting through...so I will quit trying, ok? sorry.
And lastly to Curious, Yes, you can file a complaint. The city(code enforcement) will investigate and make a decision if that person(s) is violating any ordinance or code.

Go get 'em Curious Dean. Turn those violators in Bridle Path in to the City.

Barbra,

You are one of the few politicians that gets the new era we are in. Web 2.0 connects politicians and their voters. Some people run away because they are afraid of unregulated speech but you dive right in.

There is a long list of issues I disagree with you on but I appreciate your effort and candor.

For the other politicians across the country: Sure, run away from blogs and direct communication . That is the safe route. That is conventional wisdom. But safe, conventional wisdom has lead us to the edge. Feel free to keep running towards the cliff. Send out some slick mailers with trite cliches. But don't expect a rebirth of democracy from your consultant driven mail pieces.

Thanks for answering questions Barbra.

But Brian, would you vote for me?
a looooong list of issues? What is that all about???

I have a list too, Barb. But I will always vote for you. We maintain a list of disagreements with our spouses, so might as well have one with you. Nevertheless, you are by far the best!

Just shows I am not perfect........darn!
Merry Christmas Dribble........

You are as close as we have a right to expect of a public servant, Barbra. Too cold to surf. See you for a Holiday toast instead.

Hey Moondoggie.........I am excited to see you and Gidget....

Barbra Williamson is a pioneer. She looks towards the horizon and bravely moves forward. We have many politicians that are afraid to open themselves up to people to this extent. Barbra is cutting a path in uncharted territory. People running for office will all have to walk this path.

The days of the VCRCC last minute mailers, Tony "The Brochure Kid" Strickland and Elton hiding under a rock is over! Old relics of the past that we are more than happy to forget. Today they have to answer questions and have no excuse not to.

If you look at the people that don't show up they are the questionable ones with no answers that you don't want.

The politicians have no reason not to make themselves available to the public. This is the best way possible for someone running for office to show what's real about them. If they are afraid to show what's real they have no business being in office in the first place.

Same here Barb. Thanks for doing all you do for the community. You are the type of lady who gives politicians a good name; to be sure they need all the points they can get.

brian, why not endorse barbra right now on the blog?

You really care what I think that much? I am flattered.

But to answer your question I don't like to endorse candidates when they haven't declared what they are running for and I know who the other candidates might be.

But that said, I might not agree with Barbra on many issues but I recognize her for being a new breed of politician.

I do think she should continue in public service.

But back to the RV questions.

Barbra, is is accurate that the only thing that stops someone from running a backyard parking lot is the fact that it isn't paved? That sounds odd.

what are the issues you disagree with barbra on?

Brian, Brian Brian.... Is that a bated question?

Thanks for the kind words ( in the comments I deleted) but they are off topic and not helping to understand the city's policy on the rv parking issue. I am not going to list everything I agree or disagree with Barbra on an entry devoted to rv's.

Please get back on topic.

You brought it up. Why not tell us where you disagree?

I brought it up to clarify what I was admiring was Barbra Williamson's willingness to meet voters both online and offline. It was a way of saying thank you for posting while at the same time being clear it was her posting that I most appreciated, not a specific issue. I will explore this issue in the future for you, but not on this entry.

Now back to rv's.

I was asking if a homeowner paved their back yard if they would be complying with local regulations. The idea of stopping oil messes make sense but I would think there are more reasons then that for the code. Otherwise, plastic sheeting on the ground would solve the problem.

I doubt any neighbors complained primarily because of the chance of an oil drip.

I am sure that most residents don't want their neighbors paving their back yards so they become a parking lot for profit......

Brian

Forget begging politicians to see things your way. You should run.

Brian Dennert for city council 2008

I understand that there are legitimate concerns about some aspects of the RV parking, but couldn't we tackle the problem by enforcing existing laws, such as "disturbing the peace" in the case of the 4am engine run? Also, I'm not an expert on zoning laws, but from what I've read so far, I don't particularly care for them. If someone has a huge lot, and wants to store people's RVs there without causing his neighbors problems . . . I guess I don't really see the problem. Instead, we take a few cases, and then legislate the rest, which could probably be left alone.

Owen, I appreciate your thoughts, but until you actaully see what happens it's really crazy out there. I truly support enforcing existing laws, but when it comes to people paving their back yards and renting out RV space, well that is a can of worms that I don't want to open...

Dennert for City Council? I can support that so long as he runs on a platform to replace Sojka. Consider it Brian and put together a committee. It will be a ball.

I would support Brian for City Council. He would bring a fresh perspective and balance. Simi Valley seems like it is more focused on it's "image" and cleaning up lower classes or any appearance that they exist.

Heaven forbid someone sets up a lemonade or hotdog stand or even has a garage sale and has the audacity to put out a sign. Of course, if you are a Realtor you can put signs out for your open house.

What good is equity in your home if our property taxes are paid to educate our youth and then they take that education with them and relocate to a more affordable area.

Developers, bankers and real estate people have created a mess out of our housing market with their lust for equity and profits.

I want my children and my grandchildren to have hope that they can one day afford to have a home in the community they were raised in.

I sincerely hope that my children do not buy a home and raise their family in this town.. As a home owner, tax payer, and hard working citizen I am sick and tired of so called elected officials making regulations and city ordinances just because a few people complain. Whatever happened to neighbors working out their differences? I believe our elected officials have more important things to do than worry about RV owners. Oh! thats right, I guess they don't have more important things to do.

JJ, while I agree with you about overregulation, I think that Simi is a great place to raise a family. In fact, that they don't have more important things to worry about is probably a very good thing!

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Brian Dennert here

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  • Owen: JJ, while I agree with you about overregulation, I think read more
  • J.J.: I sincerely hope that my children do not buy a read more
  • Love Child: I would support Brian for City Council. He would bring read more
  • Dribble: Dennert for City Council? I can support that so long read more
  • Barbra Williamson: Owen, I appreciate your thoughts, but until you actaully see read more
  • Owen: I understand that there are legitimate concerns about some aspects read more
  • Endorsement??: Brian Forget begging politicians to see things your way. You read more
  • Barbra Williamson: I am sure that most residents don't want their neighbors read more
  • Brian: I brought it up to clarify what I was admiring read more
  • endorsement??: You brought it up. Why not tell us where you read more