RV, large vehicle parking rule on Sept. 7 City Commission agenda

During the Sept. 7 meeting, City Commissioners will consider a proposed ordinance change for the rules of parking RVs and other large vehicles on city streets.

The city has fielded complaints about the long-term parking and/or storage of RVS, trailers, boats and the like on residential streets for years.

The meeting will be conducted virtually due to the majority of commissioners being concerned about the local rise of COVID-19 cases.

City returning to online meetings due to COVID-19

A few months ago, a group of residents spoke at a City Commission meeting on their concerns about a particular RV parked in their neighborhood, renewing the discussion of changing the code, which for at least a decade, commissioners had opted not to pursue.

Code changes for RV, trailer parking on Aug. 17 agenda for initial review, public hearing on Sept. 7

City staff presented a draft of a proposed ordinance during the July 20 work session and incorporated suggestions from that meeting into the draft presented at the mid-August commission meeting.

The updated proposed ordinance contains the following elements:

  • New definitions for a class of vehicles designated as “recreational vehicle,” “utility trailer” and “vessel;”
  • A new provision that only allows such vehicles to be temporarily parked in a residential district for the limited purpose of loading and unloading, with that “temporary” period being no more than 36 hours in any 7 day period;
  • A provision requiring a written 24-hour notice to remove prior to the issuance of any parking citation; and
  • Provisions incorporating the new parking restriction into the standard parking enforcement framework of Title 10, i.e., enforcement of unpaid citations, the potential for immobilization of a vehicle in the event of multiple unpaid citations and the potential for enforcement of unpaid citations in Municipal Court.

As with other parking violations under Title 10 of city code, actual fine amounts for violations of the proposed ordinance would be set by Commission resolution, which includes a public hearing process.

City considering changes to RV, trailer parking on residential streets

The proposed ordinance makes the rule enforceable by Great Falls police officers, community service officers and other persons designated by the city manager.

If approved, enforcement of the ordinance would be:

  • complaint-driven, with complaints generally addressed in order of receipt (except in the case of a clear safety hazard); and
  • incorporated into the existing staffing and workload environments for GFPD and other city departments, meaning that response times will be dictated by the capacity of existing city staff to accommodate this new task into their workflow.

In 2017, the city did amend Title 17, the land development code, to partially address some of these complaints and made it easier for property owners in residential areas to park their recreational vehicles, trailers or boats on their property by allowing for larger off-street parking surfaces and driveways. Those changes also allowed for the use of gravel or pavers for a parking surface in addition to just concrete or asphalt.

City working to update municipal code [2017]

The city planning board also recently reviewed, and recommended for approval, changes to the code to allow for greater height and square footage allowances for garages/accessory structures in residential districts.

City staff proposing code changes for garages, accessory structures

“These proposed changes are driven in part by staff conversations with residents who are interested in building larger detached garages to store recreational vehicles, trailers or boats that are currently being stored in yards or on public streets,” according to staff.

Those code changes were also accepted on first reading during the Aug. 17 commission meeting and will also be considered during a public hearing at the Sept. 7 meeting.