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Old 08-05-2005, 02:08 PM   #1
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I just read this post on the RV.net site and wondered if anyone here knows anything about it?

RV owners upset with city over parking laws
Of The Gazette Staff

RV owners are up in arms over attempts by the city of Billings to
enforce a section of city code prohibiting overnight RV camping
except in licensed campgrounds.

Although the crackdown started last summer, the city didn't hear any
complaints from RV owners until recently. Nancy McCullough, a
commercial code enforcement officer for the city, said she has
fielded 12 complaints from RV owners since June 27.

Four people from different parts of the country have sent letters
decrying the city's actions to The Gazette. One letter writer warned
that news of the crackdown "is beginning to radiate through the RV
community" and could ultimately cause a lot of tourists to bypass the

McCullough and her boss, Planning and Community Services Director
Ramona Mattix, say it's simply a case of responding to complaints
that city laws were being ignored.

The main law in question is part of the city's traffic code and has
been on the books since at least 1967. It says, in full: "It is
unlawful for any person to park any motor vehicle for camping
purposes in the city except in an authorized tourist park."

When the owners of several RV parks complained last summer that RVs
were illegally parking overnight in the two Wal-Mart lots in
Billings, city officials met with Wal-Mart representatives last
September. As a result, Wal-Mart started posting signs in its lots,
informing patrons that it was against the law to park there

In addition, the stores agreed to have their security guards put
fliers explaining the law under the windshield wipers of any RVs
parked at Wal-Mart for more than four hours after 9 p.m. or at any
time past 2 a.m. Mattix said that has been the extent of enforcing
the law. City code enforcement officers have not issued any

Some of the people who wrote letters to the editor complained that
they only wanted to take a quick nap and used Wal-Mart lots for
convenience. Mattix said they probably wouldn't be affected by the

"If someone just wanted a few hours' sleep in the middle of the
afternoon, I don't know how we could tell them from other Wal-Mart
shoppers," she said.

John Terzich, the assistant manager of the Wal-Mart in the Heights,
said every RV owner who comes into the store tells him they've never
had problems parking at any other Wal-Mart. They don't really
complain, he said, "they just want to know why."

Marty Heires, a Wal-Mart spokesman at company headquarters in
Bentonville, Ark., said Wal-Mart has never actively encouraged
overnight camping. It's just something that developed over time and
was not objected to by the company because people who spend the night
in the parking lot generally spend some money at Wal-Mart in the

Overnight camping is prohibited by some individual stores because
there isn't enough room, he said, and there are other places where
local laws ban camping in parking lots. He said the only place he
could think of where such laws are strictly enforced was in

"We're fine with that," he said. "We perfectly understand that.
Wherever it's prohibited, we comply with local ordinances."

Lt. Greg Willoughby of the Missoula Police Department said the law
there only prohibits people from camping in RVs on public right of
way. A couple of years ago, however, someone misinterpreted the law
and Wal-Mart posted signs saying it was illegal for RVs to spend the
night. When store managers were told it was legal, Willoughby said,
the signs came down.

McCullough said Lowe's, which is just west of the West End Wal-Mart,
voluntarily posted signs explaining the city law after RVs evicted
from Wal-Mart start spilling into the Lowe's lot. McCullough said
there used to be as many as 20 RVs a night in the West End Wal-Mart

At the KOA Kampground on Garden Avenue - the first KOA in the
country - RV owners who don't want any services can park their rigs
for $28 a night. The fee goes up to $45 for water, electric and sewer

The city also received complaints about RVs parking at the Holiday
Inn Grand Montana Hotel and Convention Center on Midland Road.
General Manager Scott Larsen said the hotel had been offering 21 RV
slots for many years, aiming the service at long-distance travelers
who might like a chance to use hotel amenities on occasion.

For $25 a night, the Holiday Inn gives RV owners a room key that
gives them access to the hotel pool, laundry, exercise room and bar
and restaurant, plus an electrical hookup. RVers can even have room
service deliver meals to their vehicles. Larsen said he had no idea
such a service was illegal until he was contacted by the city earlier
this summer.

His solution was to apply for a campground license through the state
Department of Health and Human Services, which he says was promptly
granted. The license has to be renewed annually and costs $40 a year,
he said.

City Councilman Dave Brown said he heard from at least one RV owner
upset with the city law, and Brown said he suggested at a recent
council meeting that the law be repealed. So far the idea hasn't gone
beyond the discussion stage, he said.

Meanwhile, the city continues to field complaints about RVs parked in
the front yard of private residences or used for living or sleeping.
Those uses are prohibited by zoning ordinance, not traffic law, and
as such are not dealt with by McCullough, who handles commercial

But she said her residential code enforcement colleagues have been
kept running. One man who was cited for illegal RV storage drove
around the city and entered complaints on more than 200 illegally
parked RVs, McCullough said. Code enforcement officers are slowly
working their way through the list, she said.
Ed Kemmick can be reached at 657-1293

Good travelin! ......Kirk
URL: www.1tree.net/adventure/
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Old 08-05-2005, 03:18 PM   #2
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So much for the "wild, wild west."

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Old 08-05-2005, 04:53 PM   #3
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Just add Billings to the mapping software as "do not stop for gas or shoping".

Bruce and Dyanne
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Old 08-06-2005, 05:08 AM   #4
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Just my personal opinion! I seems people feel overnight parking on someone elses property is a right and not a privilidge and get very upset when that priviledge is taken away. I personally would be asking the question why is an ordinance that has never been enforced all the sudden being enforced and are the reasons for the ordinance being put in place to begin with still valid from 1967. The other question is what is their definition of "camping" ("It is
unlawful for any person to park any motor vehicle for <span class="ev_code_RED">camping purposes</span> in the city except in an authorized tourist park.") As this seems to be a growing trend "No Overnight Parking", everyone who wants to boycott a city because of this, will just be staying home in the future.
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Old 08-06-2005, 09:10 AM   #5
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RV DRIVER, i,m with you
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Old 08-06-2005, 09:28 AM   #6
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As an Rv'er, when we travel, I want to hit the road and get there in one piece. Now I know my driving limits and set a goal to be at. Usually it's fuel stop, Fly 'j', Pilot, etc. I get fuel and eat, then I'll sleep from anywhere 2 to 5 hours, then I'm back on the road. I used no electricity except what I needed from my generator. As I don't need to put the slides out as I can get by without. Get my sleep and then I'm up and out of there and on the road.

Now I also help a friend of mine run a campground. I have seen folks park in the truck stop across the street for a while. They could of come in and parked for the night but they are also on a schedule and most of the time they want to get back on the road and to thier final stop. Years ago our folks had a longer time to do there vacations and you didn't have the rush rush of today.

The campground owners are missing the boat. Yes they designed there cg's to handle most rigs, but they didn't take into consideration the rv'er who just wants to stop and boondock for a few hours of rest. No hookups, just a place to park. Even new owners who are designing there new cg's, they still leave out an area for boondocking. If you charge, that may still drive away the boondocker. My thoughts of an area large enough to bring in a 40 foot with tow and beable to pull in and park, plus enough room to get out.

Now if you stop in for a few hours of sleep no problem, but if you want to park a little longer then come into the cg and get a site.

My thoughts, any others?
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& 4 attack cats, TJ, Shadow, Chessie, RJ
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Old 08-06-2005, 10:39 AM   #7
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My opinion.
Folks are trying to pack three weeks vacation into a two week version. They plan too little and try to go too far.
A vacation for me is on the road by 6 and off the road by 3 at the latest. Usually a max of 400 miles a day. And a 400 mile day is over 8 hours.
Folks absolutely overextend themselves and really do need a safe place to get some rest. I do not want to be on the road with someone that is maxxed at 25,000 pounds and running on coffee and Mountain Dew to stay awake!
A vacation is supposed to relieve stress, not induce it! The trip to the vacation spot should be as relaxing as the campground itself!
Slow down, get off the road early, look around and then you won't need the WalMarts or truck stops for sleep.
Again, my opinion and the way I travel.
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Old 08-06-2005, 12:51 PM   #8
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Originally posted by CyberVet65:
My opinion.
Folks are trying to pack three weeks vacation into a two week version. They plan too little and try to go too far.
A vacation for me is on the road by 6 and off the road by 3 at the latest. Usually a max of 400 miles a day. And a 400 mile day is over 8 hours. [SNIP]
Chet - very well said! I've never "camped" in a parking lot & never plan to (unless something unexpected happens). I bought a TT to camp in; not to spend the night on pavement. All of our vacations are planned so that we drive similar limits to what you described & we spend the night in a CG. If we can't do that, the "destination" is too far or we don't have enough vacation days. And I would not feel safe stopping for 5 hours of "rest" so I can get back on the road right away to drive another 10 hours.

I don't really care one way or another if people overnight in parking lots. It just seems to me that those people miss out on a lot of great camping experiences while they're rushing to get from here to there.

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Old 08-06-2005, 01:17 PM   #9
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BPF, I have to side with you and Chet. A lot of folks try to do too much in too short of a time and they bypass the real reason for camping and an RV. Since we have moved to NE Oklahoma and the family is still in Houston (520 miles), we will make a one day run into there to just get there, but my wife drives the rig and we spell each other. We can make it in about 9.5 hours which is about as long of a day as I like.

Heading home is another story. It is broken into one, two or three stops to do some real camping and sight-seeing.

I would take more time if my employeer would give nore time off and take even longer on the trips.

But I agree, the campgrounds are being greedy, but they are trying to pay off their investment. So why not provide a non-hookup, no amenities site to stop for a few hours of sleep. They could offer this for $5.00 per night and still make some money. Of course, there will still be the folks that feel this is too much to pay.

My two cwnts worth....

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Old 08-07-2005, 03:48 AM   #10
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This issue is being pushed primarily by KOA campground owners and support groups like ARVC and The Affinity Group which includes Camping World, Good Sam, Woodalls, Coast to Coast and others. These folks are not the friends of the RVers. They are protecting their advertizing supporters and camp ground owners. They want the RVer's money. This move to ban RV parking also includes parking on your own property. This is not about going on vacation --- its about anyone who owns an RV and must park it somewhere. If we all speak we can stop this trend. If we are silent those people and their supporters will tell us where to park our RV.

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Old 08-07-2005, 03:59 AM   #11
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This parking ban is not about Camping, it is about Parking. Camp Grounds are for camping and we all need and use them. Parking lots are for Parking, not Camping. Some RVers don't seem to know that and they reflect on all of us.

Bob Sammons
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Old 08-07-2005, 05:25 AM   #12
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Right on Bob, I have never stayed overnight at Wal Mart, but I have at "other places", and when I do I park for 5 to 8 hours, I do not "Camp". When I park I do not put slides out, I "park", I may or may not "Sleep". But if we don't speak up, we won't even be able to stop for grocery's!

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Old 08-07-2005, 07:17 AM   #13
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Originally posted by Bob Sammons:
This move to ban RV parking also includes parking on your own property.
Bob - you'll have to explain that one to me.

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Old 08-07-2005, 10:41 AM   #14
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In the past when we owned a TT and a MH, we slept overnight. There was only one time that we actually looked like we were camping...


We were moving from Hershey to Grove City last May when we lost an inner wheel bearing on our trailer. I thought Wal-Mart would have boat trailer bearings, so I had the towing company haul me to the nearest 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter. The store did not have bearings, so we waited for help to arrive.


The scoffer would likely accuse me of wrong doing. However we were most thankful that we were allowed to wait right there in the parking lot until help from home arrived.


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