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ARVC Promoting Letters To Help PMRVs

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is urging private park owners across the country to join an online letter-writing campaign in support of legislation to protect the legal standing of park model RVs as recreational vehicles.

The legislation, HR 5658, was introduced after the Department of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a new regulatory interpretation memorandum that redefines park models with factory added porches as manufactured homes, effective April 1.

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

“We are mobilizing private park operators across the country to support HR 5658 because if park model RVs with factory built porches are no longer defined as recreational vehicles, local zoning officials could require them to be removed from campgrounds,” said Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, adding, “The regulatory change could also make park models subject to local property taxes.”

ARVC told state campground association executives in a conference call this morning (Oct. 17) that an automated letter writing program has been developed that gives park operators the ability to send electronic letters in support of HR 5658 to their congressional representatives. ARVC and its state affiliates are emailing links to the letter this week so that they can participate in the campaign.

Last week, ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei co-signed a letter to HUD Secretary Julian Castro with Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President and CEO Richard Coon and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia in which they urged Castro to withdraw HUD’s regulatory interpretation memorandum until Congress has a chance to amend HUD law to protect the current status of park models.

HR 5658 was introduced in September by Republican Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. It would exempt park models of 400 square feet or less from the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, which forms part of the HUD code. It would also protect the legal status of park models that have been placed in campgrounds during the past two decades.

Park model RVs have previously been technically defined as recreational vehicles according to the HUD, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes park model RVs exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV.

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ARVC Now Tracks Related Product Recalls

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is now providing its state affiliates with information on product recalls that could affect health and safety of private park operators and/or their guests.

ARVC monitors recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and sends relevant recall notices to affiliated state executives along with information to members via the ARVC State Brief and ARVC News.

Product recalls have been issued this year for a variety of products widely used in campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, which are listed below along with phone numbers for the respective manufacturers who have issued the recall notices:

  • Coleman Rubber River Tubes sold exclusively at Walmart due to skin irrigation hazard: (800) 835-3278.
  • Hewlett-Packard Notebook Computer AC Power Cord due to fire and burn hazards: (877) 219-6676.
  • Kidde Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Alarms due to alarm failure: (844) 553-9011.
  • Northstar Liquid Fuel Lantern due to fire hazard: (800) 835-3278.
  • Siemens SBGA-34 Fire Alarm due to alarm failure: (800) 516-9964.
  • Trident Pool Gate Latches due to failure to secure hazardous areas: (800) 409-3901.
  • Trident Ultraviolet Sanitation System for Pools due to fire hazards: (800) 621-5886.

Based in Centennial, Colo., ARVC is a national trade association representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership comprises RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisors and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities.

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ARVC Backs RVIA On Park Model RV Laws

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykThe National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced today (Oct. 9) it is supporting legislation sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) that would clarify the definition of a manufactured home to exclude park model RVs. It is also supported by the RV Dealers Association (RVDA).

The legislation, HR 5658, was introduced in September by Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Jackie Walorski (both R-Ind.) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.). It would exempt park models of 400 square feet or less from the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, which forms part of the HUD code.

Park model RVs are technically defined as recreational vehicles according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes park model RVs exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV, according to ARVC.

As a result, ARVC and RVIA representatives said they spend a considerable amount of time on the phone each week with municipalities across the country that question whether park model RVs should be subject to property taxes. ARVC maintains that park model RVs should only be taxed as personal property.

Matt Wald

Matt Wald

HUD is also revisiting its interpretation of some of its enforcement positions with regarding to the line between RVs and manufactured housing, according to Matt Wald, RVIA’s executive director for park model RVs.

“It is RVIA’s position that RVs, built for recreational, seasonal and camping use, belong in campgrounds or other recreational areas while manufactured housing, built as permanent residences, belongs in housing communities,” Wald said.

While the distinction between park model RVs and manufactured housing is well understood by those with intimate knowledge of HUD law, the language of existing law is not clear enough for lenders, zoning and tax officials, who often try to tax park models as manufactured housing, Wald said.

“RV lenders are concerned that, given new banking regulations, they need more clarity as to where the line between RVs and manufactured housing is drawn if they are going to continue to make consumer loans for some types of RVs,” Wald said.

Wald told Woodall's Campground Management that the entire outdoor hospitality industry needs to stand together and urge members of Congress across the country to support the legislation to clarify definitions.

ARVC and RVIA are also collaborating in an effort to identify states where legislation can be developed specifically to exempt park models from property taxes. Such legislation became law in Utah last year, for example.

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, said he often provides park operators with talking points and code sections they can share with city officials to clarify their questions about park models. In others, Sims reaches out to city officials directly to inform them that park models are a type of RV.

Sometimes, however, private park operators bring problems on themselves when they fail to register their park models with their state’s department of motor vehicles. While they may think they are saving money by avoiding the DMV registration fee, the tactic can backfire on them later if local officials question whether their park model is indeed a type of vehicle and they do not have a DMV registration form to prove that it is.

Private park operators can also create problems for themselves and for the RV and outdoor hospitality industries in general if they allow people to live in park model RVs on a permanent basis, according to ARVC. Park model RVs are designed and legally permitted for seasonal or part-time use.

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ARVC Gives More Yesawich Details

Yesawich

Yesawich

Nearly two weeks after announcing that Peter Yesawich will serve as the closing keynote speaker at this year's Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE), the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC)  offered more details about Yesawich's presentation.

“Peter Yesawich is one of the nation’s most respected experts on the habits and preferences of American travelers,” said Erica Owens, marketing and events manager for ARVC.

“Peter’s presentation will provide OHCE attendees with results of an ARVC-sponsored survey of U.S. active leisure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. And this presentation will give attendees fresh insights into the preferences of leisure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts and how to influence their behaviors and capitalize on the latest trends,” Owens said.

OHCE is scheduled for Dec. 2-5 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas featuring a robust selection of 50 education sessions over the course of three days. Education session topics include operations management, marketing, legal issues and risk management, business management, human resources and leadership, and guest satisfaction.

OHCE’s opening keynote session on Tuesday will be presented by David Avrin, an internationally known marketing and branding expert who specializes in showing businesses how to recognize, craft and promote a truly unique and marketable competitive advantage, while building their brand identity. He has been featured on hundreds of broadcast media outlets and is the author of three books, including It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You.

For OHCE program and registration information, visit www.arvc.org/OHCE.

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ARVC Focuses On Changes To Standards

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims

In addition to performing a watchdog role in protecting private parks from new laws and regulations that increase the cost of doing business, the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced it is making a strategic move to rewrite many of the nationally recognized standards for private parks.

These standards are contained in a variety of federal laws and regulations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1194 Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks & Campgrounds; the National Electric Code NFPA 70; the Uniform Plumbing Code; and the Americans With Disabilities Act Series 1006.

ARVC formed an NFPA 1194 committee earlier this year and is developing a series of proposed changes in the next revision cycle that will address Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for campsites; evictions and ejections; lengths of stays; as well as zoning and taxation issues involving park model RVs.

ARVC is focusing its attention on NFPA 1194 because that is the nationally recognized standard that the association uses when it works with state and local governments involving proposed regulations.

“By taking a proactive role in developing new industry standards, ARVC can get ahead of the legal curve and provide a framework that can guide legislators and regulators moving forward,” said Jeff Sims, ARVC’s director of state relations and program advocacy, in a written announcement.

“Since new regulations and laws are made by officials who often have little or no knowledge of the campground business, it behooves us to develop our own positions on a number of topics and to share these position statements with the state and federal agencies and legislative bodies,” Sims said.

Sims cautioned, however, that just because ARVC is asserting the private park industry’s positions doesn’t mean that every ARVC recommendation will be incorporated into the NFPA code.

“This is a very extensive process,” he said, adding that the closing date for NFPA public input is Jan. 5. The final updates to the code are expected to be completed in 2017.

While ARVC is continuing to refine its positions on a number of topics, the association is also working with the U.S. Access Board “to achieve regulations that are reasonable and attainable by the private RV park and campground industry to meet the needs of all guests,” Sims said.

ARVC also supports legislative and regulatory action to enable park operators to meter electricity at individual campsites. While park operators are not public utilities and do not resell electricity, ARVC believes that park owners should be able to recoup the actual costs of electricity by their guests.

“Some campers may use a small amount of electricity and others may use a substantial amount,” Sims said. “Submetering addresses this issue by enabling RV park and campground owners to allocate electricity to their guests according to their actual usage as opposed to applying a flat fee to everyone, which discourages the conservation of electricity.”

ARVC’s NFPA 1194 Committee includes Garry Cole of Shelby (Ohio)/Mansfield Kampgrounds of America (KOA); Wade Elliott, president of Utility Supply Group in Kingston, Wash.; Mark B. Hazelbaker of Kasieta Legal Group LLC in Madison, Wis.; Pat Hittmeier, president of KOA in Billings, Mont.; Michael Hobby of Moon Landing RV Park and Marina in Cross Hill, S.C.; Rob Schutter, president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. in Milford, Ohio; and Sims.

Comments involving NFPA 1194 and other regulatory or legislative issues involving private parks should be sent to Sims at jsims@arvc.org. ARVC members can obtain a copy of NFPA 1194 from the online store at www.arvc.org at a members-only discounted price of $27.

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ARVC, RVIA Work Together On Park Models

RVIA logoThe National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) are working together to try to educate municipalities across the U.S about the property-tax-exempt status of park model RVs, according to an announcement from ARVC.

The two organizations are also collaborating in an effort to identify states where legislation can be developed specifically to exempt park models from property taxes. Such legislation became law in Utah last year, for example.

                                  “I personally talk to Jeff Sims of ARVC nearly every week,” said Matt Wald, RVIA’s executive director for park model RVs, adding that Dianne Farrell, RVIA’s vice president of government affairs, is also in regular communication with Sims on park-model and other campground issues.

Park models are technically defined as recreational vehicles according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 standard and a majority of states’ laws. This makes them exempt from property taxes. But the descriptions of park model RVs in the HUD code are not as clear as they could be and not every state clearly defines park models as a type of RV.

As a result, more often than not, local officials have no idea what park models are and usually think they are a form of manufacturing housing, which is not correct.

As a result, Sims and Wald spend a considerable amount of time on the phone each week with municipalities across the country that question whether park models should be subject to property taxes. ARVC maintains that park models should only be taxed as personal property.

In some cases, Sims said he provides park operators with talking points and code sections they can share with city officials to clarify their questions about park models. In others, Sims reaches out to city officials directly to inform them that park models are a type of RV.

Sometimes, however, private park operators bring problems on themselves when they fail to register their park models with their state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV). While they may think they are saving money by avoiding the DMV registration fee, the tactic can backfire on them later if local officials question whether their park model is indeed a type of vehicle and they do not have a DMV registration form to prove that it is.

Private park operators can also create problems for themselves and for the RV and outdoor hospitality industries in general if they allow people to live in park models on a permanent basis.

ARVC and RVIA support the use of park models as seasonal dwellings consistent with recreational vehicles. But when park models are used as permanent housing instead of recreational purposes, it can often raise flags for local taxing authorities who are more likely to want to tax these units as a permanent dwelling rather than an RV.

To help clear up this confusion, RVIA has spent the past eight years trying to persuade Congress to clarify the HUD code to more clearly define park models as a type of RV. But while the Manufactured Housing Institute has supported RVIA’s efforts, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform has opposed changes to the HUD code to clarify that park models are, in fact, recreational vehicles.

Wald said RVIA is undeterred and will continue its efforts to clarify the language in the HUD code involving park model RVs so that the HUD law makes it perfectly clear to local zoning and tax officials that park models are indeed a type of RV, not housing, and should be treated as such. Several campgrounds and state campground associations have already helped advance this effort by contacting their senators and representatives, and more support from the campground industry will be required in the coming year to get the HUD law changed.

By clarifying both the HUD law and state laws regarding park models, the industry groups hope to eliminate the need to constantly explain what park models are and defend their use in private campgrounds.

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ARVC Announces OHCE Seminar Topics

Attendees at the 2013 OHCE in Knoxville, Tenn., listen during a session.

Attendees at the 2013 OHCE in Knoxville, Tenn., listen during a session.

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced what the organization called "a robust education schedule for this year’s Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE)."

The annual event is scheduled for Dec. 2-5 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas featuring 50 education sessions over the course of three days.

“This year’s conference is going to have so much educational content that it’s going to be hard for park operators, managers and employees to leave the conference without having new information and ideas for improving their businesses,”said Erica Owens, ARVC’s marketing and events manager.

Education-session topics include operations management, marketing, legal issues and risk management, business management, human resources and leadership, and guest satisfaction.

Two half-day workshops, “Towers, Routers and Clouds  — Wi-Fi Systems That Work” and “Securing A Business Loan” are also part of the educational content offered at this year’s OHCE.

In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in Successful Park Operations Tours (SPOT). SPOT gives attendees a chance to tour local parks and hospitality operations to give them new ideas to take home.

PrintThe Expo, the other half of OHCE, is a one-stop shop opportunity giving attendees the chance to meet with more than 100 vendors to learn about new industry products and services.

For OHCE program and registration information, go to www.arvc.org/OHCE.

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Historic Wildfires Mostly Sparing RV Parks

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

As wildfires — some of them historically large — ravage the west coast, the news for independent RV parks and campgrounds has thus far been somewhat positive, if close calls and very slow business could be called positive. While many thousands of square miles have been burned in Washington, California and Oregon, as well as hundreds of homes and a handful of state and national campgrounds, the blazes of late summer 2014 have yet to claim a non-government run RV park or campground.

“We have yet to hear of any parks forced to close from fire in those states,” said Paul Bambei, CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). “Right now, I think the main message is, business continues and parks are open for any and all comers. Unless anybody tells me not to say that, that's generally my pat response.”

That's certainly the message that park owner Cheryl Ethrington is hoping to get out about her Riverbend RV Park near Twisp, Wash., which was threatened by the Carlton Complex fire, the largest in Washington state history. “Everyone is hearing on the news that Twisp is burned up, but it's here and we're still open,” she said. “In fact we have nothing but green around us here and the air quality is good. Unfortunately we only have four sites occupied whereas normally we'd have 70. Everything is fine except we have no customers.”

Carlton RV Park owner Bob Gibson said his park was also untouched by flame, though his personal residence was a different story. “It feels like a bomb zone,” he said. “It took out our barn, cabinet shop and an old log chicken house, and the fire burned right up next to the the house, licked it a couple times but didn't burn it. We were standing in the yard with garden hoses, flames coming through the 50-foot trees, running over the ground, and we're fighting it back with garden hoses. So it was more than touch-and-go, it was like, go, go, go.”

With the Carlton fire mostly under wraps at 91 percent contained, a new fire in Oregon has quickly gained strength, forcing the evacuation of 150 homes near Rowena, Ore., and threatening 700 more. In California, three large fires near Lassen National Forest seem to be causing the most concern. The Eiler fire near Burney has consumed eight homes and appears to have marched over the Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park and Campground, though initial reports have been that the facilities were spared. Phone service was down at the time of writing.

“We seem to have a lot of smaller fires, at least in comparison to previous years,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC). “But so far they seem to be confined to pretty rural areas and nothing has gotten seriously out of control.”

One of the unique things about RV parks near fire zones, Sipe pointed out, is that they typically have resources that firefighting crews need such as temporary housing, restrooms, electricity, sometimes fuel, and that can often be their saving grace.

Lassen RV Resort owner Phil Martin said his park, still several miles from the Eiler fire, has had the opportunity help others. “We've actually got people here that were evacuated from their homes nearby, and so we've done the best we can to give them a nice discount and accommodate them during such a tough time.”

Although the wildfire season may be far from other without drastic improvements in the weather, for now, Bambei said the best his organization can do is to be available to help wherever possible, and to encourage people to continue to go camping, checking for themselves on park and road closures. The substantive help that ARVC offers to member parks comes in the form of a disaster relief fund, a donation-based pool that is managed by the educational arm of the association.

“It's for parks that are in need or urgently in need and it's rare that the relief requests are denied,” Bambei said. “We had floods here in Colorado last fall that were just horrendous and we had funds released for that, as well as for floods in Missouri a few years back and hurricanes on the eastern seaboard. But so far this year, we haven't had any requests for assistance for fire in states west of the Mississippi.”

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ARVC Announces First OHCE Keynote Speaker

arvc_logo_ideas_cmykDavid Avrin, an internationally known marketing and branding expert, will keynote the opening luncheon at the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds’ (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE).

OHCE’s opening luncheon begins at noon Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, according to a written announcement from ARVC, based in Centennial, Colo.

Avrin specializes in showing businesses how to recognize, craft and promote a truly unique and marketable competitive advantage, while building their brand identity. He has been featured on hundreds of broadcast media outlets and is the author of three books, including It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You. His latest book, Impossible to Ignore, is due out next year.

“We think David is really going to energize and inspire our members to think differently about how they promote their park’s guest experience while at the same time grow their business,” said Barb Youmans, ARVC’s senior director of membership and education.

Avrin has recently given presentations around the world, including Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; Melbourne, Australia; Monte Carlo, Monaco; London, England; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and in Dubai.

OHCE is a four-day event Dec. 2-5 that includes 50 seminars, a trade show with more than 100 vendors, a tour of local parks and ARVC’s annual awards program. This year’s OHCE also includes two half-day workshops, one focusing on “Wi-Fi systems,” and the other providing information to help park operators obtain business loans.

For OHCE program and registration information, visit www.arvc.org/OHCE.

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ARVC Rolls Out Payment Processing Savings

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) announced a new member benefit with payment processing company First Data, a deal which can save private park operators thousands of dollars in credit card processing fees, according to ARVC's written announcement.

“We think this is going to be a highly sought-after member benefit because First Data will work directly with campground operators to develop a program that best suits their credit and debit processing needs while saving them money,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.

First Data is providing ARVC members reduced rates on face-to-face retail transactions, Spend Trend analyses and ATM terminals.

First Data is also offering ARVC members a Platinum Service Package for reduced rates that includes enhanced statements; a customer Spend Trend analysis; 24/7 access to transaction data; alerts; and a tool to offer coupons and discounts to park customers. ATM terminals are also available at a reduced rate.

Based in Atlanta, First Data is a global leader in electronic payment processing.

The company also offers consulting services and other resources to help park operators improve their payment security and risk management.

Based in Denver, Colo., ARVC is a national trade association representing the interests of privately-owned RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Membership is composed of RV park and campground owners and operators, industry suppliers, franchisers and others committed to promoting the growth and welfare of the RV park and campground sector of the outdoor hospitality industry through development and implementation of legislative, regulatory, educational and promotional programs and activities. Visit arvc.org for more information.

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