Planners Consider Looser 'Family Care' RV Rules
Recognizing a Trinity County trend of people living in recreational vehicles never designed or intended for permanent occupancy, the planning department in this Northern California county is proposing a looser set of rules that would allow temporary facilities to be permitted as family care units in specific situations, but to better enforce against them being converted to long-term, illegal use.
"We allow mobile homes as temporary housing units now, but some counties allow RVs to be used for that purpose though by state law they are designed for seasonal, temporary occupancy," Senior Planner Frank Lynch said last week in presenting the issue to the Trinity County Planning Commission. He noted that in Trinity County, the main concern is that RVs do not meet snow load requirements, The Trinity Journal, Weaverville, reported.
Planning Director Rick Tippett said the discussion about family care units is only getting started and is a small part of the larger RV/camping ordinance previously recommended by the commission and awaiting consideration by the board of supervisors.
The proposal is to expand the current county code to allow not only mobile homes, but also RVs as temporary living units for elderly or impaired residents or their caregivers. RVs would be required to have a ramada structure over them to meet snow load; be hooked up to utilities and septic; and include verification that a health care need exists for a family member living there or in the main dwelling on the property.
"I think it meets the economic reality of this county. The downside is how to monitor and make sure they are compliant over time. You could have a renewal process or a placard on the unit that it meets minimum standards, but there are a lot of folks out there who have this need to live in a temporary unit and this would be an avenue to get them legal. We’re trying to be responsive," Lynch said.
The proposal was a discussion item only and will come back to the planning commission for further consideration and a possible recommendation to the board of supervisors in June.
Commissioners suggested there should be maximum age and minimum size limits on RVs suitable for temporary occupancy permits.
"I get that there are RVs worth more than my whole ranch, but do you want grandma living in a truck camper with no proper bathroom?" said Commissioner Keith Groves, proposing that any RV considered for a temporary use permit be fully self-contained with flush toilet, shower, cooking and sleeping accommodations.
Commissioner Karl Fisher said he is in favor of allowing temporary use for family care, "but we need to have minimum standards. There are structures in Hayfork where you can’t tell if it’s an RV, a mobile home or a shack with plastic over it. I’m in favor of the concept, but also minimum health and safety standards."
He added that any temporary RV installation "needs to be used as it was supposed to be. There are places where somebody needed the care and passed away, and the unit becomes a rental the next day."