Local News

Fullerton Bans RV Street Parking: Is This Criminalizing Homelessness?

Fullerton City Council voted unanimously at their November 17 meeting to ban all RV parking on public and private streets citywide unless first obtaining a temporary permit from the police department. This has prompted concern from those living in Recreational Vehicles (RVs) in the City who feel they are being discriminated against for being poor.

Prior to voting on this, a Fullerton police officer gave a Power Point presentation that showed photos of RVs lined up on streets in certain industrial areas along Valencia where some folks live in their RVs and vehicles. Some of the photos showed trash and waste surrounding the RVs. The photos were presented as justification for banning RV parking in Fullerton, except with temporary permits for “residents.”

“‘Resident” means a person who customarily resides and maintains a place of abode or who owns land within the City, according to the ordinance,  “It shall not mean a person who maintains an address at a mailbox drop or who rents a room that is not his or her primary place of abode nor shall it mean a person who maintains only a post office box, unless that person also provides evidence of residence at a street address within the City.”

According to the last Point in Time Count (of people experiencing homelessness), the city of Fullerton has an estimated 308 unsheltered homeless people on a given night, a portion of which are living in vehicles. The exact number of people experiencing homelessness and living in vehicles is not known, but estimates place the number between 30 and 50 vehicles.

Michael Horton, a retired crane operator, and Mary Lopez are currently living in an RV on Valencia Ave. Prior to living in the RV, Horton grew up in and owned a house on Lille Ave. just a few blocks away from where he now parks.

“I wish they would lighten up on the RV people,” Lopez said. “Most people who are out here like this don’t want to be out here…People are doing the best they can. When you don’t have money to buy gas for your vehicle, to move it when they tell you to, then they come back and you’re still there, then they impound you.”

The City recently began placing flyers on all the RVs parked on Valencia, stating: “Effective December 17, 2020, RV Parking will be Prohibited on All City Streets in Fullerton. Please plan and prepare to move now before enforcement, including towing, starts.”

For the past few years, Horton and Lopez have been forced to move around due to surrounding cities passing similar ordinances. Anaheim, Buena Park, La Mirada, Placentia, and Orange all have ordinances banning or restricting RV parking.

“They do everything they can to criminalize being homeless,” Horton said. “When we buy gas, we pay state road taxes. I am a taxpayer, and it is a public street. Am I not Joe Public? It seems to me the city ordinances are prejudiced.”

Under the new ordinance, the police-issued temporary RV permits are only permitted in residential zones and are only available to “residents.”

“Any resident may obtain a temporary RV parking permit authorizing him or her to park a recreational vehicle in front of his or her residence,” the ordinance states. These permits are good for 24 hours.

Additionally, “Any out-of-town visitor may obtain a temporary RV parking permit to allow him or her to park a recreational vehicle in front of the residence in which they are visiting.” These are good for up to seven days.

At the Council meeting, only one resident, Tony Package, submitted an e-Comment in opposition to the ordinance. Package, who is on the Fullerton Police Chief’s Advisory Council said he “would prefer we take care of the homeless crisis before we take RVs off the streets.”

Nonetheless, Council approved the ordinance unanimously.

The city of Fullerton currently has a Safe Parking Program, operated by local non-profit Pathways of Hope, that says people living in their vehicles are allowed to park in a certain lot, with certain restrictions.

Pathways took over the program in May 2020. Since then, they have served a total of 20 unduplicated community members, according to David Gillanders, Executive Director of Pathway of Hope. This program is set to end December 31.

“For now, we are certainly accepting those folks who are living in their cars and need a safe place to be at night, as well as working on case plans that will end homelessness permanently,” Gillanders said.

Though there is currently no plan to extend Fullerton’s program, Gillanders said the need is huge and his group would like to try a regional approach to this program in north Orange County.

Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer supports the ordinance. “In Fullerton we provide places (Safe Parking) for Fullerton-connected persons,” he said. “I will not open our City as a refuge from other cities having RV parking bans that push them into Fullerton.”

Brooke Weitzman, the attorney representing several homeless plaintiffs in the court case Orange County Catholic Worker v. County of Orange, et al, called the RV parking ban “a surefire way to increase homelessness.”

Weitzman cited recent legal cases in Los Angeles and San Diego that found such ordinances unlawful.

“More importantly, similar to writing people tickets, it works against the interests of the City,” Weitzman said. “If the City’s interest is having more people housed and fewer people homeless, forcing the people who are in their RVs (which in many cases are seniors, often senior women, or parents with minor kids) out of their last chance at housing and onto the streets doesn’t serve anyone’s interests.”

The ordinance itself states, “The City Council hereby declares that it would have passed this Ordinance and each section, subsection, phrase or clause thereof irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, phrases or clauses may be declared unconstitutional.”

“The intention appears to either make [people living in RVs] more homeless or force them out of the City,” Weitzman said. “Typically, if the City decides to start enforcement, they would start writing tickets, rather than taking their RVs a few days before Christmas and leaving them on the road.”

17 replies »

  1. You cant pick and choose to block or ban anyone or any thing you deem “annoying” thats not what this country was built on. Nor do I want my grand kids to grow up thinking its ok to pass judgment on other people because they are different than them. Be it where they live, the car they drive, how much money they make, etc etc. Grab that old book and start reading it, because all this animosity and hatred is why our world is in the shape its in. The bible says do onto others. Love thy neighbor. Etc. It breaks my heart how callus and cold people are. When your sitting in the same situation dont ask why this is happening to you. Ill tell u now. Its your karma coming full circle. And best beleive many many more will be homeless before its over. The recession hasent even started yet. And mark my words its going to be the worst in history. And theres nothing anyone can do to stop or change it.!!!!!!!

  2. As noted in the article, there is now a Safe Parking program in Fullerton. Further, if there is a particular reason why the person can not participate in that program, or has reasonable reason for not wanting to participate in it, the article outlines a process by which the owner of the RV can apply for permission to park where one is doing so. There are lawyers / Judge Carter paying attention to make sure that there’s no trampling of anybody’s rights. As such, the needs and interests of all who would be concerned seem to have been taken into account. Good job over all!

  3. So Jesse, Why don’t you tell the whole story. If you really want to help start by telling the truth. Tbat sob story that you talk of. Tell people why they “lost” their house. The truth may get help in the right area. Do you reaaly think you are helping them? I’m tired of hearing the same old crap. The has been told for years. The problem is not getting better! Try telling the truth now. Don’t be part of the problem. Hint, hint it is drug addiction

  4. I would like to see the numbers on permits requested by Fullerton home owners. Was this noticed given just to the homeless living in their Rvs.

    I’m one of the homeless living in my trailer on Walnut Ave behind train station. First thing I thought when I saw this notice tapped to the outside of my trailer was; WTF, more threats harrassment. Been told by FPD to move or be arrested on several occasions. Yet nothing was ever done.

    As for the trash, I would spend several hours each week cleaning up the trash and waste left by other people. Mostly from the bar patrons and people riding the train. I asked one of the city workers one morning for a couple of trash bag. Told him I would leave the trash I picked up and bagged next to the curb. His response was ” We’ve been told by our supervisor Not To Pick Up Trash Out Here”.

    I meet Judge Carter several months ago with Brook. Basically asking him WHY. He said to me his intent is not to go after people like you in Rvs, but to get people off the street sleeping in alleyways and bus benches.

    We ALL have our personal problems and issues. For most of us it’s a day to day survival, it’s a hard life to live. I would never wish this upon anyone to experience.

    Fullerton has been twisting the the thumb screws for years.

  5. You are a perfect example of the cancel culture …. who said people should be sleeping on the street? You make it sound like the only alternative would be to abandon their RV and go to sleep on the street. That is not the only alternative, nice try though. I couldn’t agree with you more about the governor. Good luck turning that around.

    Go to DT LA and tell me you agree with people being allowed to invade the streets of a once vibrant city. I was just there ,, I had to step over piles of human poop on the sidewalk.I know of which I speak. If that’s the kind of life you want then go live in downtown LA, it’s free there too. Your options are endless. Please don’t Feel you have the right to turn orange county into the same cesspool. Fullerton seems to be doing that all on its own, finally an ordinance that serves the property owners of Fullerton. Finally.

    It’s called logic and You do it with your head, not your heart. Grow up.

  6. Man!! All of you people, including the cities, are truly heartless!!! We are in a pandemic!! So many people are now jobless!! What the heck are they supposed to do?? They are fortunate to even have an RV!! You are heartless to want them sleeping on the street, with winter upon us!! The Governor maybe should foot the bill! He’s the one that keeps shutting everything down & making people lose their businesses & jobs & become homeless!!!! This is absolutely ridiculous & crazy!!! Maybe it will happen to you & then you’ll sing a different tune!!!!

    • No one is immune. Adult children living with parents, family or being financially assisted by relatives to be housed are, themselves, HOMELESS. It can, does and WILL happen to anyone. Your lack of Mercy and Empathy will catch up with you either in this life or when YOU are judged………!!!

    • Thank you, finally someone gets it. We lost our income when we were made to shelter in place. Then a curfew made plan b impossible. Edd helped with PUI. Until the fraud came out. My acct was frozen. It took 7 months 2 senators an assemblyman and a congressman to finally get it back but during that 7 months we lost our storage. And everything we owned. Why , because our government shut down the country. Only housing was protected from eviction. They took our money then left us out to fend for our selves. Its like forcing someone blind to drive a car and they are responsible for any damage they cause. But they cannot have insurance. It just does not make sense.

  7. What makes people think you deserve to live somewhere you can’t afford? The solution to this is go somewhere where you can afford it! 1+1=2

  8. Why should RVS be able to park on streets (for free) and drag down property someone else’s prop values? Non of the rest of us live in Fullerton for free.

    CRIMINALIZING HOMELESS? Hahahahahaha….nice try! Cry me a river. There are options for homeless, but they are the most selfish of all…they dont want the free living options. I am not including the mentally ill in this statement. That is a whole nother issue.

    Go sell your inflated selfish drama somewhere else! Go PAY TO STAY AT RV CAMPSITE!!’ ….what’s that you say? It’s not free? Life was never promised to be free or fair. Go outside of Orange County and there is plenty of FREE FREE FREE places to park your RV.

    You want your cake and eat it too.

    • People in glass houses should not throw rocks! I could attack you about your bad spelling. How would you feel if the only way for you to shower was you had to spell it correctly.. Or buy groceries or drive your car use your phone , watch tv! Its unconstitutional. Bias. Prejudicial. We are a free country. I dont have the right to treat you like an ignorant, uneducated ,illiterate, drop out because you cannot spell ” none” . Some things are not just black and white. There are shades of grey. That means not every person out there in every RV is a criminal or drug dealer or user. Not every person in RVs is there because they are lazy. I worked as a nurse. My partner was a crain operater and a union member. He made 45$ an hour and has 2 pentions coming to him!!!! Can you say the same??

  9. I happen to be one of the many living in an RV . The pictures that where used to push the point , all belong to One Person . It is not fair to judge the many , just because of one . I got my RV , because I cant afford to even rent a room anywhere . Im on SSI , and only survive because of friends . What Fullerton is doing , is wrong in too many ways . I grew up here , yet I don’t recognize it as home any more . Thats Just Sad.

  10. Give them the info flyer on the Safe Park Program. At least they can start a process to be in a situation for ongoing support. Maybe more areas like this can be set up if this lot fills up.