Briefing Room: about parking restrictions for recreational vehicles

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First let me just say that I truly enjoy reading your “Ask a Cop” articles in the Sun. I learn something from them every single time.

We are longtime residents of Seal Beach, most specifically on First Street, and have noticed a great uptick in the last couple of years in the number of RVs that park for long periods of time on the street.

Some move for short periods of time, coming and going throughout the day, some move for a few days and return but some stay in one spot until the next street sweeping day, which on First Street is every other week! But generally, it’s a rare day when there isn’t at least one parked on the street.

We strongly believe that a few of these RVs have people that live in them 24/7. There are things sitting outside the RV during the day then get brought in at night, we hear voices or a radio playing through the open door or window as we walk by, and some even have tarps covering the top. While walking my dog along First Street on the “dirt” side, I frequently see numerous cigarette butts – all the same brand, just clustered together in a small area. Currently, there is a shopping cart on the “dirt” side getting filled with trash that hasn’t moved in over a month.

What are the parking restrictions for these oversize vehicles, if any? If they aren’t considered oversize, are there restrictions for living in a vehicle on a city street? I’ve often wondered and I’m hoping you can shed light on this. Thanks!

Karen and Randy

Hi Karen and Randy,

First, thank you for the kind words. I really try to write about things that are both educational and interesting. I’m glad you are enjoying and learning.

Thanks also for your questions. There are a few local laws that pertain to motor homes. Anytime someone wishes to park an oversized vehicle on any City street overnight, they need to obtain an oversized vehicle permit from the Police Department. What’s overnight? Per this section of the Seal Beach Municipal Code it is between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. What’s oversized? A vehicle or combination of vehicles (car and trailer) that exceeds 20 feet in length or 90 inches in width.

Oversized vehicles cannot park on Marina Drive or anywhere else unless they have a permit. However, our night watch officers regularly check on these motor homes and the majority are under 20 feet in length or have obtained a permit from us. If not, we issue them citations.

Also, vehicles cannot remain parked in one location for over 72 hours on any street in Seal Beach. Our parking control officers regularly mark vehicles for 72 hours violations and issuing warnings. After 72 hours, cars that do not move are either cited or towed.

As far as sleeping in vehicles goes, it is also prohibited in Seal Beach between the hours of 9: p.m. and 9 a.m. Although we can and do enforce this section of our Municipal Code, we do so with understanding of each individual’s unique circumstances.

I’ll give you an example. Not too long ago I contacted a young man sleeping in his car in Old Town overnight. The young man told me that he was a struggling college student who was working two jobs just to keep his head above water. He had recently lost his apartment and had nowhere else to go.

He was faced with the tough decision to either sleep in his car or somewhere on the streets. I decided not to issue this student a ticket, and instead I connected him with resources for temporary housing and other social benefits.

As you can see, there are sometimes circumstances which require a level of compassion and understanding. Our job is not only to enforce the law, but more importantly to help all members of our community. All of our officers understand the concept of community-oriented policing, and that is one of the reasons I’m so proud to wear the Seal Beach Police patches and badge.

All that being written, if your quality of life is being negatively impacted, please call us. Our non-emergency number is (562) 594-7232. We’ll be happy to respond, contact the occupant of the vehicle (if any), and at the very least educate the individuals on our laws.

Thanks again for your questions Karen and Randy. Seal Beach, please send me more great questions like these! Email me at askacop@sealbeachca.gov.

Briefing Room: about parking restrictions for recreational vehicles