California Coastal County Regulates Beachfront 'Camping'
County supervisors in Southern California's Ventura County approved new rules Tuesday (March 6) to keep commercial squatters from monopolizing spots on the popular Rincon Parkway.
Every summer, people drive recreational vehicles to the beach-side spot north of Ventura, then enjoy a week or a weekend near the waves. But for two years, park managers have been getting complaints about enterprises they say have more to do with profit than pleasure, the Ventura County Star reported.
Several groups of individuals have been leasing their RVs to paying customers, Ron Van Dyck, county parks director, said. They park their rigs on the beach for weeks at a time, he said.
"We know of at least three different groups, and we understand there are more," he said.
Van Dyck declined to identify them, saying he lacked proof other than the name of one party who has been advertising on Craigslist.
Under current rules, campers pay the county $27 per night to park in a specific spot on the parkway for up to seven days during the high season from April 1 to Oct. 31, but must leave for seven days before returning to it.
The RV entrepreneurs are able to get around that by trading parking spaces with each other, Van Dyck said.
Van Dyck said the county had no strict policy to prevent the practice other than rules governing operation of businesses on county property.
But starting April 1, campers must leave the beach for at least 14 days after staying there for a maximum of seven.
They cannot bring their RVs back to any spot on the parkway, nor can anyone else.
Later this month, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will consider enforcement measures in a county ordinance. Rangers then will be able to track the owners of the recreational vehicles and issue citations.
Supervisor Steve Bennett, who represents the area that includes the Rincon, said he hasn't fielded recent complaints about the RV problem.
But he wasn't surprised it was happening.
"Those are great spots, and people are always thinking of ways to work the system," he said. "But for the average citizen, you want to have everybody have a fair shot at those spots."
The board's action Tuesday provides some tools to deal with the problem, he said.
"Without this, they wouldn't have the tools to do anything about it," he said. "In general, the public doesn't want people profiting from a public resource at public expense."
Van Dyck said the county hasn't lost any money yet because the spaces have been paid for and filled.
But he's looking for the new rules on lengths of stay to disrupt the flow of business and the citations to deter any repeat violations.
"The owner of the RV is really the person we're after, not the person renting," he said.