New parking restrictions for large RVs and campers on private property

BY PRU SOWERS

KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER

Key West owners of recreation vehicles and campers over 20 feet in length may have to find a new place to park their toys.

City commissioners voted 6-1 recently to amend a local ordinance that will now require residents in the single family and medium density residential districts to store RVs and camping vehicles over 20 feet long in their side or rear yards. Previously, owners were allowed to park those vehicles of any length in front of their homes.

In a city with limited yard space the new restrictions might cause a problem for larger vehicles. But the ordinance also allows half the length of a vehicle over 20 feet parked alongside a home to stick out beyond the front of the home. For example, a 40-foot RV parked in a side yard would be allowed to protrude up to 20 feet beyond the front of a house. Otherwise, the homeowner would receive a citation.

Exceptions to the new ordinance include RVs or camping vehicles currently being used as temporary housing due to Hurricane Irma and commercial vehicles and equipment driven home as a job requirement.

The amendment was aimed at clamping down on the increasing number of large RVs parked for long periods in front of homes in local residential neighborhoods.

“It just does away with visual clutter,” said Commissioner Richard Payne. “It takes away from property values of people who live nearby to look at something that’s sitting there for four, five years at a time.”

No resident spoke at the commission meeting when the amendment received its final OK. However, resident Allen Tidball sent an email to the commission asking that they “find another leg to chew on” and leave homeowners alone.

“Please do not adopt another ordinance designed to sanitize Key West. It will be selectively enforced based on someone’s determination as to what constitutes an eyesore or infraction,” Tidball wrote. “If a person does not like to see someone else’s boat or trailer, too bad.”

The ordinance is aimed only at recreational and camping vehicles. Trailered boats were not included in the new restrictions because they are usually smaller than RVs and tend to be moved frequently as their owners take them out on the water.

Commissioner Sam Kaufman, who said he wants to buy an RV “if my wife ever lets me,” was the lone vote against the new ordinance.

“Why shouldn’t they use their driveways to park their vehicles,” he asked, adding, “As far as visual clutter is concerned, in New Town there are work trucks everywhere.”

The new ordinance will standardize the restrictions on large parked vehicles in Key West, Prior to the vote, all areas in the city except single family and medium density zoning districts allowed boats, trailers, recreational and camping vehicles to park on private property as long as the vehicles were stored in an enclosed structure situated behind the front setback or screened with plants or vegetation so that the vehicle was not seen from the street.

“The goal of this was not to park giant motor homes crosswise in the front yard so that you can’t see any of the house,” said Mayor Craig Cates. “That’s what takes away from the look of the neighborhood.”