Carmel Valley residents say oversized vehicle parking a problem

By Karen Billing

After complaints at last month’s Carmel Valley Community Planning Board meeting about oversized vehicles parked in residential neighborhoods, officials from the San Diego Police Department were invited to discuss efforts taken to help alleviate the problem.

It’s a complicated issue that the police have dealt with for a long time in the city, said Joe Arway, parking enforcement supervisor. Some residents see the oversized vehicles as a blight, but the owners might like seeing their vehicle parked outside their home. As long as they are moved within 72 hours, they are parked legally.

“This is not just a Carmel Valley issue, it’s a city-wide issue,” said Arway, noting he drove around Carmel Valley to gauge the issue locally and reported that he got an “eyeful.”

Per San Diego Municipal Code, no vehicle can be parked continuously at one location on any public roadway for more than 72 hours. Arway said owners often know how to “play the game,” just moving vehicles and boats around on the same street.

“If it’s moved any length of a distance, they’ve moved the vehicle and we have to assume that complaint is satisfied,” said Arway. “For all intents and purposes, they are legally parked.”

Arway explained the contentious history of a proposed city oversized vehicle ordinance — he was part of the committee that framed the language of the original ordinance in 2004.

The ordinance was put to rest then and again in 2008 due to initial start-up costs and opposition from RV owners.

Initial start-up costs, for posting the ordinance throughout the city, could cost $1.9 million, a cost that proved dooming for the ordinance. In opposition, RV owners argued that they paid taxes, insurance and registration on their vehicles and they should be able to park them in front of their own homes.

There were also concerns about San Diego being a large tourist city and that an oversize ordinance might be too restrictive and deter visitors and the resulting commerce.

Arway said the enforcement unit is willing to listen to any possible ideas or solutions residents may have.

“Anything is on the table at this point,” Arway said.

Like residents on Quarter Mile Drive, residents of Carmel Vista complained of a similar situation in their neighborhood at the March 22 meeting.

“We have this big car dealership in front of our homes,” the resident said. “There are 17 to 20 vehicles lined up on one street…Why would you let this happen in our community? Right now the laws are not in favor of the homeowners.”

The resident said the oversized vehicles are not only a blight, but could prove to be dangerous as they are hard to see around.

“I don’t think they even live in our neighborhood,” the resident said of the vehicle owners. “It’s irresponsible owners, they should be storing them somewhere else.”

Arway said that is something that could be handled with red curbing and two-hour timed parking spaces. Lt. Paul Connelly said a traffic engineer can review the situation and it could be a couple months before the curbs are painted or the signs go up.

One resident said it appeared people were even living in the car or sleeping in sleeping bags in a tarp-covered boat.

“That’s against the law,” Arway said. “You cannot live on city streets and if you have that, call us.”

The number in that situation would be (619) 531-2000.

To report vehicles parked longer than 72 hours, call (858) 495-7800. The vehicle abatement unit can be reached at (858) 495-7856.