By a unanimous vote this Monday, the Falls Church City Council gave preliminary approval to a new ordinance that would effectively prohibit parking on public streets in the City of any trailer or RV.
“Parking of trailers or residential vehicles on any public street in the city for more than two hours within any 24 hours period is prohibited,” reads the language of the new ordinance, “Provided that an unoccupied vehicle recreational vehicle may be parked on such a street between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. once within any 48-hour period when the custodian of the vehicle is arriving or departing on a journey in the vehicle, and further provided that a recreational vehicle may be parked on such a street while loading or unloading for more than two hours but not more than six hours, which hours must be without interruption, and only once within any 48-hour period.” Got that?
The proposed new law represents a huge departure from current practice, where there are no limits to parking on public streets at all, as long as a vehicle is properly licensed.
According to City Manager Wyatt Shields the impetus for this ordinance has come from “numerous citizen complaints about trailers parked in residential neighborhoods.”
A staff report not that when the police department investigated these complaints, it was learned that the City Code does not prohibit a properly registered trailer from being parked or stored indefinitely on City streets or in front of residential houses.
Only if a trailer was improperly registered or “posed an immediate hazard” were “appropriate enforcement measures taken.”
However, according to the report, “in addition to being a concern for nearby residents,” the police department found that “the trailers, RVs, or boats pose a safety hazard to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in residential neighborhoods. “With the normal dense parking on city streets, these trailers take up limited space and cause visibility concerns for motorists and pedestrians.”
The police investigation led to researching relevant ordinances in neighboring jurisdictions and resulted in the modeling of the proposed new ordinance almost exactly on one that is on the books in the City of Alexandria.
Moreover, similar ordinances are also the law in the City of Fairfax, Arlington County and Town of Herndon. Fairfax County prohibits the parking of commercial vehicles in residential districts, but exempts watercraft and motor homes from the definition of commercial vehicles.
The proposed new Falls Church ordinance would apply to the following categories of entities: Trailer, residential vehaicle, trailer coach and fifth wheel trailer, camping trailer, pickup (slide-in) trailer, truck cap, chassis mount, motorhome and mini-motor hom, converted and chopped vans, boat, motorcycle, utility or snowmobile trailer and “transportation structures used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. A boat, motorcycle, or snowmobile placed on a trailer shall constitute one recreational vehicle.”
It is noted that parking restrictions in the proposed new ordinance “may be waived by written permit by the City Manager or his designee for a contractor conducting street work for the City, but such permit shall have a term of no longer than seven days.”