Residential camping issue back before the board May 9
By Debra Moore
Sometimes proposals have unintended consequences as the Plumas County Board of Supervisors discovered this week. In an attempt to keep long-term camping out of residential neighborhoods, it could prevent residents from having campouts in their yards.
In trying to align the county’s codes with its general plan, and give county officials the ability to police camping infractions, the Planning Department presented an ordinance to the board during its last meeting in April. By their next meeting on May 2, some residents as well as representatives from the High Sierra Music Fest let their concerns be known. Under the ordinance, camping shall be prohibited within Prime Opportunity Areas, except within campgrounds. Prime Opportunity includes single and multi-family residential zones, some commercial areas and some open space and lake areas.
After Senior Planner Tim Evans recapped the basics of the proposed ordinance, which was slated for adoption, District 4 Supervisor Greg Hagwood addressed the proposal and asked on a scale of “one to 10” how it would impact the High Sierra Music Fest. He was told that there would be minimal impact because the camping associated with the festival is mostly on property that is not covered by the proposed ordinance.
“A lot of times codes will address a particular need, but I don’t want there to be unintended consequences for this event,” Hagwood said.
Quincy resident Tina Marie Love said that her family likes to camp on her property when they come to visit. She said there were no provisions in the ordinance to allow for such activity. “I am also in close proximity to where people camp for the High Sierra Music Festival,” she said and allows some campers to use her property. “This leaves them vulnerable to being exposed to complaints,” she said. (The county’s code enforcement is complaint driven.)
Planning Director Tracy Ferguson said that camping has never been allowed in residential areas per the general plan; the ordinance presents nothing new. The ordinance was developed after several complaints from various areas of the county where people are staying long-term in nonstructural housing (tents, RVs) in residential areas.
“I find it troubling that they can’t camp on my property,” Love said, reiterating her concern about her family’s ability to use her yard.
District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss said he understood her concern. “I would suggest the planning commission work with some sort of familial thing,” Goss said. “Maybe something that clarifies that (use).”
Hagwood said that he wanted to hear more from representatives of the High Sierra Music Fest before proceeding with approving the ordinance. “Is there an urgency to this?” he asked. “Could we not extend this hearing into the weeks to come?”
It was decided that the issue would be discussed again during the board’s May 9 meeting, and it is listed on the agenda released yesterday.
9 thoughts on “Residential camping issue back before the board May 9”
Hi, We park our camp trailer in our driveway in the summer, so we have it when we want to go camping. Nobody stays in it. Is that going to be a problem too?
What is not mentioned by the article or the board is exactly why such enforcement is necessary. Who is complaining and what is the real impact?
Why is the first instinct of any governing board to make new regulations that now have widespread unintended consequences?
This is a rural county. People camp. People sometimes use campers longer term. What’s wrong with that?
If the issue is noise, address noise. If the issue is filth, address that. I see nothing wrong with letting people alone for the peaceful enjoyment of their own property even in “prime opportunity” areas.
We have literally millions of laws. Surely there is something existing that can be used instead of wasting our time and money on this kind of thing. County already can’t hire dispatchers and deputies and can’t even get a straight accounting and we’re bothering with this? Is this really an issue?
Live and let live and leave people alone.
Clarification: we want to punish the poor and still allow those who are not poor to pretend to be poor…when they want to. Have to keep up with social fads.
But, hey, we are getting new court house!!!! Am I right?
So I consider camping as more than sleeping. Camping includes cooking, open fires, porta potties, etc…..
So would my grandkids pitching a tent in my back yard to sleep for a night or two be considered camping by county standards?
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I think this is an important issue that does need some clarification to keep from having indirect and unintended consequences. In Greenhorn, we often have people buy property and think they can park their RV on it, calling it home. While our community is rural, it is not a trailer park, nor do we want it to become one so I feel an ordinance that keeps long-term camping and recreational vehicle occupancy curbed is in our best interest.
Some are also getting around the lack of hoa’s as well as lax codes/code enforcement and are building small structures in residential zones that they use to camp in place of tents or rv’s. These structures appear to be built within the guidelines of no permit if under 200 sq ft but with that comes questionable construction including install of wood burning stoves and no check or accountability on human waste. Should a fire break out or water quality become compromised, visiting campers simply drive back to their home while those of us who call this home live with the consequences.
Regardless of any merit one may or may not find in this issue, pursuing this issue seems like a waste of everyone’s time. Ordinances are simply words on a page without effective enforcement. Plumas County has only one Code Enforcement Officer to enforce all the already existing ordinances in the Plumas County Code, an impossible task. So, is the thought to have the already understaffed and overworked Sheriff’s Department enforce camping violations? While I do acknowledge the potential value of pursuing this issue, addressing the low pay, and understaffing affecting all County departments would seem like a much better use of everyone’s time.
I am concerned that those who lost their homes in the fire, will not be allowed to stay in a tent/camper(on their own property) until they get the funds to do otherwise. From what I understand this happened in Paradise after Camp Fire. If this is something that is going to be pushed their should be an exception for those who lost their homes otherwise we will see more people leaving the county because they have no choice.
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