Northeast Campground Association (NCA) Executive Director Cyndy Zbierski sent an update to NCA members Thursday evening (Nov. 6) to remind them to speak up and contact their congressional representatives to support the outdoor industry on legislation that would provide a clear legal definition of RVs. The legislation, championed by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and National RV Dealers Association (RVDA), would, among other things, prevent the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from changing its view on how park model RV square footage is figured, as HUD signaled in an Oct. 1 memo.
Zbierski's note is below.
NCA sent its first member email alert on October 10th highlighting the need for your action to support H.R. 5658. Thank you to those who have contacted their Members of Congress on The Recreational Vehicle Certainly Act of 2014. The numbers show that many of us still need to take five minutes to understand the possible impact of this new HUD memo and to make sure our concerns are heard as an industry. Here is an update as to what is already happening in just one of our NCA member states:
"In Maryland, we are already having issues with processing titles to park model RVs. Even though the HUD ruling is not in effect until April, at least one of our Department of Motor Vehicle divisions is questioning how to title a unit with a porch manufactured on it. What I find amazing is how quickly this has become a 'real world' problem.
"I'll admit that when I first heard about the HUD ruling, I didn't think it affected campgrounds and was more of a manufacturer/dealer issue. But then I actually read the information provided by RVIA, RVDA and ARVC, and I knew this was not a tropical storm that would blow over – it was a full force hurricane that had taken a direct hit on our industry. With no warning, no discussion and clearly as arbitrary as Mother Nature, HUD has caused quite a problem. I can't say strongly enough that we all need to get involved. It will take maybe one minute to hit the link, fill in your information and contact your representatives. Please just do it!" – Deb Carter, Buttonwood Beach RV Resort and Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds.
Campground operators will be able to personalize a letter to their representative and two senators and have that message sent without the hassle of searching for contact information for their members of Congress directly from the Take Action area on the above link.
By simply filling in their campground's address the software takes care of the rest. Just click Send Message and your message will reach the right people in Washington, DC.
But every campground is strongly encouraged to personalize the letters as much as possible. Campgrounds should include how many people they employ and exactly where they are located in the first paragraph of the messages.
The most important thing, though, is to click on the link to Action Alert and send a message to Washington, D.C. and to do it TODAY. Here are the numbers as of 11/4/2014:
|NCA ACTIVIST STATE||TOTAL NCA ACTIVISTS||TOTAL ADVOCACY MESSAGES|
Note: By comparison, New Jersey was in fourth place nationally this week, behind Florida, California and Wisconsin and ahead of Texas, according to information provided by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
Now that attempts failed to get the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to reverse a subordinate's memo changing how HUD looks at park model RVs, leaders in the campground and RV industries are pinning their hopes on Congress to head off problems for RV parks and campgrounds across the U.S., and have made it easy for campground owners and operators to show their support
Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), who represent the neighboring districts in the heart of the RV industry in northern Indiana, introduced House Resolution 5658, the "Recreational Vehicle Certainty Act."
Outdoor industry groups are pushing their members to reach out to Congressional representatives and voice support for the act, which would provide legal clarity that, among other things, porches on park model RVs don't count against the 400-square-foot living space limit — as had been HUD's view until last month.
"We’ve made quite a bit of progress," said Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). As of this week, Sims told Woodall's Campground Management, 640 park had reached out to their representative and their senators. "They've sent out 2,103 messages and contacted 310 members of Congress," Sims said.
ARVC has partnered with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), as well as state associations that aren't affiliated with ARVC, to get the word out. "The issue is far beyond affiliation," Sims said.
"This is kind of a long shot, but we need some immediate guidance and relief because it's got a lot of our members in limbo," Sims said. As things stand, HUD will start counting factory-made porches as part of the living space for park model RVs, which have a maximum of 400 square feet of living space.
In addition to campground groups, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and National RV Dealers Association (RVDA) are working together with ARVC on the issue, which has a huge impact, Sims said.
"You’re talking about nearly $145 million in potential lost revenue," he said. Though HUD's new standards will only be in effect from April on, that doesn't prevent states or local governments from looking at existing park model RVs, popular rental options in RV parks and campgrounds, differently, Sims said.
"What do you do when it’s no longer classified an RV and it certainly can’t be classified as manufactured housing because it’s not constructed to those standards? You’ve got an investment there, overall the average investment is $21,000 per park. We’re small businesses. What do you do with that unit?
"A lot of business licenses don’t allow anything other than recreational vehicles. Are they now in noncompliance with their business licenses? Will it have to be revmoved? Will it have to be condemned? Will it have to be renovated to new codes? I don’t have the answers to that," Sims said. "When it comes to the local jurisdictions, there will be additional interpretations," Sims told WCM.
In an e-mail to ARVC and other industry partners summarizing the Oct. 22 meeting with HUD staff, Matt Wald of the RVIA said HUD officials were indifferent to campground and RV industry concerns about HUD’s reclassification of park model RVs, which it outlined in an Oct. 1 memorandum.
Maryland Association of Campgrounds Executive Director Deb Carter said HUD’s new interpretation of park models leaves campgrounds and campers in legal limbo with regard to park model RVs that were bought and installed under HUD’s previous park model guidelines, according to an announcement from ARVC.
While HUD might not take enforcement action against existing units, Carter agreed with Sims that it is likely that local tax, zoning and building officials will. She asked HUD staff whether they had considered what would become of these units when it was time to renew insurance, registration, titling, or financing for these RVs now that the HUD memo says they are no longer RVs. She asked what she could tell a local tax authority who decided to change the tax classification of park models in her campground from RVs to housing based on the HUD memo.
HUD staff had no answer for any of these concerns, Wald said. “In fact,” he said, “it appeared to be the first time they had heard or even considered these unintended consequences of their action. And yet they still continued to insist that this memorandum would not be withdrawn, stating that it was their ‘statutory obligation to enforce the memorandum’s interpretation,’ regardless of the effect the memo would have on the campground industry.”
Speaking on behalf of park model RV manufacturers, Dick Grymonprez of Champion/Athens Park Homes asked what possible safety concerns triggered HUD to issue a memorandum that makes factory added park model porches illegal.
“HUD’s counsel conceded that the agency did not issue the memo out of a health or safety concern, but instead that it was ‘a purely legal distinction’ that HUD staff felt compelled to make and that as such it would be enforced no matter whether it is needed or not,” Grymonprez said in ARVC's announcement.
Wald told ARVC that industry participants left the meeting frustrated and felt that the only way they can protect park model RVs is to support HR 5658, which 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 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.
Sims told WCM that after that meeting, "It’s frustrating for the average park owner out here. They’re going to certainly take it on the chin and bear the brunt of this."
"There’s limited ways to correct this issue. One is through regulatory, which is very time consuming and certainly couldn’t happen prior to that April 1 date," and that one's less likely thanks to HUD's stance, Sims told WCM.
"People have bantered around you can sue HUD, but that’s too costly. We are a small association representing small businesses," he continued.
With the executive and judicial options effectively off the table, the focus is on the legislative branch. "We have put in motion every opportunity for park owners around the country, affiliated an non affiliated, to participate in this and get their message heard, their voice heard in the U.S. Congress. I don’t know how much easier we can make it," Sims said.
While he knows that campground owners are busy and "just want to run their parks," he also pointed out that "They want to do it without regulations that are going to strangle them and drown small business."
Campgrounds and RV parks in flood plains can find factory-built porches advantageous compared to porches added on in the site, at least in case of floods.
"It's a huge issue. It really is. Everybody is coming together — manufacturers, dealers and the park operators — because we’re really all in this together. It has a major impact on everyone," Sims said. It's a matter of protecting existing investments in parks and also promoting future growth.
"One of the single largest segments of our industry has been park models. For campground owners that are going to rent those out and it provides the consumer the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor recreation industry without the investment of the equipment," Sims told WCM. "It exposes another segment of the population to the outdoors."
The site at RVACT.com has a page, accessible here, that lets campground and RV park operators not only find their representative and senator, but also provides pre-written sample text that can be sent to their legislators with the click of a button.
"We’ve modified it and simplified it. I don’t know any other way to assist the park owners in identifying their members of Congress and getting the message to them.
"This isn’t a time to be a spectator. This is time to get in the game," Sims said. "It’s simple, it’s easy but it can make a difference."
RV manufacturers reported shipments to retailers of 24,869 units in September this year, which were 10.5% greater than the same month one year ago, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported.
This was the highest September total in seven years with gains recorded in all vehicle categories. Seasonally adjusted, shipments in September were at an annualized rate of more than 340,000 units. Year-to-date, total RV shipments have now climbed to 271,352 units through the first nine months of the year with towable RVs up 8% while motorhomes shipments were up 17.6% ahead of this month last year.
A newly published study shows that RV vacations cost substantially less than other forms of vacation travel, even when factoring in fuel prices and the cost of RV ownership. For a four-person travel party, the study found savings of 27-62%; a two-person travel party saved 11-48%.
The research was conducted by PKF Consulting USA, and commissioned by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the association said in an announcement. It updates previous vacation cost comparison studies done by PKF.
The PKF study provides a vacation cost analysis using two sets of hypothetical travel parties: A four-person travel party of two adults and two children, and a two-person travel party of two adults.
PKF analyzed major costs these hypothetical travelers would incur taking nine different types of vacations to nine popular vacation destinations. For each destination, researchers analyzed vacations lasting three, seven and 14 days.
The study compared different methods of travel, including a folding camping trailer, a lightweight travel trailer, a compact motorhome, a Class C motorhome and a Class A motorhome. The Class A motorhome was used for comparison vs. first-class travel options such as flying first class, renting a premium car, staying in upscale hotels/resorts, and eating meals in restaurants.
RV travel emerged as having a clear economic advantage over other forms of travel, regardless of the RV type. Below is what a four-person travel party could expect to save:
• Folding camping trailer – 47-62%
• Lightweight travel trailer – 34-53%
• Compact motorhome – 27-48%
• Class C motorhome – 28-48%
• Class A motorhome – 38%
A two-person travel party also saved, according to the analysis:
• Folding camping trailer – 38-48%
• Lightweight travel trailer – 23-36%
• Compact motorhome – 19-32%
• Class C motorhome – 15-28%
• Class A motorhome – 14%
As part of its analysis, PKF considered how fluctuating fuel prices might affect vacation costs. Their findings showed that fuel prices would have to reach more than $12 per gallon for a four-person travel party before RVing would begin to lose its economic advantage over other forms of travel. For a two-person travel party, fuel would have to reach $6 per gallon.
The study is available in RVIA’s Publications store for $35 for association members and $45 for non-members at this link.
The 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.
“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.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) announced that RVIA's 62nd Annual California RV Show kicks off tomorrow for a 10-day run from Oct. 10 – 19 at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.
This year's event will feature increased RV exhibit space and an impressive lineup of sports and entertainment celebrities to help draw consumers to the event.
The California RV Show will span 800,000 square feet of exhibit space, well over the 665,000 square feet at the 2013 event. More than 1,200 RVs will be on display, including 150 RVs available for test drives by interested consumers.
There will also offer a number of elements and enhancements to inform, entertain and engage attendees, including:
• Special guest appearances — An impressive lineup of celebrities has been arranged for the show, including former Dodger great Steve Garvey, who will open the event with a ceremonial first pitch on Oct. 10; former Dodger Ron Cey and former Angel Chuck Finley on Oct. 11; musician, RV enthusiast and reality TV star Bret Michaels on Oct. 18; and former Lakers star A.C. Green and former Padres star Randy Jones on Oct. 19.
• The Grand RV Campground Entrance — The main show entry point will once again be a mock RV campground that will cover 10,000 square feet of landscaped exhibit space and feature a wide array of RV products. The Grand RV Campground Entrance is designed to excite attendees about RV travel and camping before moving into the main exhibition areas.
• Informative seminars — A robust lineup of 65 seminars will be offered throughout the 10-day event to provide attendees with expert information on selecting, buying and using an RV from industry experts.
• RV sweepstakes — A 2015 Lance Camper Manufacturing ultralight travel trailer will be given away at the conclusion of the show.
For more show information about the California RV Show, visit www.TheBest RVShow.com, like the show on Facebook, or follow on Twitter at "California RV Show."
The 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.
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, 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.
August wholesale shipments to retailers continued to cruise along, rising 5.8% above this same month last year to 26,441 units, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). As with recent months, towable RVs reflected the largest unit gains while motorhomes grew by the largest percentage gain. Motorhomes represented 15% of all shipments in the month of August this year, the highest percentage of motorhome shipments in any single month since December of 2007.
Year-to-date RV shipments through August reached 246,483 units. All RV product categories except folding camping trailers and truck campers have improved this year, with conventional travel trailers growing by the most units while Class B motorhomes have grown by the largest percentage gain.
The unique Wedge Cabin designed by Cal Poly Pomona architecture students and built by Cavco Industries will be on display at 62nd Annual California RV Show, starting Oct. 10 at the Fairplex in Pomona.
The most prominent feature of the Wedge, which provides a glimpse of the future of camping and was on display at the California State Fair, is that its attention-getting 4:12 pitch is also reflected on the porch, which accentuates the drama of the point, and provides for changing perspective views.
According to Cal Poly, the school’s architecture graduate students were asked to design cabins as part of the work by the state Parks Forward initiative that would generate interest in the state park system and appeal to groups that don’t typically go camping, such as millennials and minorities.
Architecture students were given the opportunity in the fallout of the 2011 state budget crisis in which 70 parks were targeted to be shuttered. Although the closures did not occur, the independent Parks Forward commission was created to come up with proposals to address financial, operational and cultural issues facing the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The panel especially wanted to re-create the look of a traditional cabin to jumpstart interest in camping.
Parks Forward members said at least one of the students’ designs will be located in a state park by 2015, but the hope is that the designs will be so well received that they will be mass-produced and located throughout the more than 280 state parks.
The Wedge incorporates wood and glass for a more modern look, can fit one full-sized bed and a twin-sized bunk bed, and also has plenty of seating. The cabin offers a 60-square-foot porch where occupants can get some shade on a sunny day. The cabin also meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Cavco is a leading designer and builder of systems-built structures including manufactured homes, modular homes, commercial buildings, park model homes, and vacation cabins.
The 10-day event will feature more than 1,200 RVs, 35 manufacturers, and 15 dealers, plus six celebrities, food and educational seminars, including the informative RV factory showcase. The show provides a free trolley and also offers mobility scooters, wheelchairs and kids wagons for rent at the entrance.
The show runs Oct. 10-19. Information is available at http://www.thebestrvshow.com or (818) 248-6600.
The show is produced by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the national trade association representing recreation vehicle (RV) manufacturers and their component parts suppliers who together build more than 98% of all RVs produced in the United States. The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) is also participating with a campground display.
The 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.