County Law Aimed at Problem Campers
Long-term campers who cause trouble at campgrounds in Monterey County, Calif., could be subject to stricter rules about how long they can stay and how long they must stay away if county supervisors approve a new law.
On Tuesday (April 22), the supervisors will consider a proposed ordinance that would limit the number of days campers can stay at the county's four campgrounds and allow parks officials to ban problem campers for up to half a year, according to the Monterey County Herald, Monterey, Calif.
The new limits are aimed at a small number of campers who in the past have set up in area campgrounds for the long-term and caused a wide range of problems.
Those include littering, gray-water dumping, creating domestic disturbances, allowing unsupervised children to roam free, inviting too many visitors, hosting loud parties, using abusive language, using alcohol, possessing firearms and refusing to pay their fees or to leave when asked. Some campers have even repaired their vehicles at the sites.
Deputy Chief Ranger Richard Higgins said the proposed new law is merely intended to be a "tool" for parks officials to discourage those who abuse the privilege of camping in the area.
"This gives us some tools to really clean up our campgrounds and return them to the original intent," Higgins said. "Our facilities are intended for a (short-term stay). We want everyone to have a good experience, and if they don't, then it's a blemish on us and people won't come back."
Under the proposed new rules, campers would be allowed to stay in area campgrounds for up to 30 days total per year and 15 consecutive days per stay. Campers also would need to leave the campground for at least two consecutive days before they are allowed to return.
If campers are expelled from an area campground for any reason, they would be barred from returning for up to six months afterward.
"For every one we catch, there are many others that we don't," Higgins said.
The county's four campgrounds are Laguna Seca Recreation Area off Highway 68; San Lorenzo Park in King City; Lake San Antonio (North and South shores); and Lake Nacimiento in South County.
But the new rules would only be applied to the small number of campers who stay for long stretches at area campgrounds and create a nuisance. And parks officials say they would have the discretion to let campers who obey the rules stay for longer than the new limits would permit.
Parks Director John Pinio said most campers won't be affected by the proposed new limits.