Where Do You Park An RV In Santee?
Rob McNelis, a councilman with the city of Santee, stands on a residential street wearing a tie, a vest and dark glasses. He moved here in 1994 and was elected to city council in 2010.
“We’re East County. So we love the river, we love the deserts," said McNelis. "You’ll find the vast majority of us that do live here love these types of things and so we have recreational vehicles."
But that doesn't make his job any easier.
“Hands down, by far, this is the one issue that I get more calls or complaints about than probably all of the others combined."
Jim Fredenberg has lived in Santee for 20 years and said RV's have always been a problem.
“If they (park) it overnight that’s one thing, but if they do it for weeks, it’s kind of an eyesore,” said Fredenberg. "They’re up and down every other street. You can go up here a block and down there a block, and you’ll see them parked to the side.”
Fredenberg says RV’s block views of streets, causing safety hazards.
“Oh yeah, they’re up and down every other street. You can go up here a block and down there a block, and you’ll see them parked to the side," he said. “I have a grandkid, almost 2 years old so I worry about him. They speed through here trying to get around”
Santee follows the California Vehicle Code and San Diego County Code. And that says that RV's cannot be parked on city streets for more than 72 hours. Santee defines "recreational vehicles" to include travel trailers, pop-up campers, boats and boat trailers.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department's said the current parking law is hard to enforce because the ordinance does not say how far an RV has to be moved after 72 hours.
The department said they do not actively look for violators, instead, they respond to complaints.
"They have these little blue notices that they sometimes — a courtesy notices — which they’ll a lot of times before they ticket it," said resident David Evangelou. Evengelou has lived in Santee for 25 years and said he has owned a camper for the last six.
“If you can afford a motorhome doesn’t mean you have money to store it too," he said. "My point is that I think I should be able to park it on the street. I pay the registration, and the insurance is not cheap.”
Evangelou is facing a problem many other RV owners in Santee have: Namely, the maximum three-day parking rule. Councilman McNelis said his sympathy for that concern is limited.
“Unfortunately if you want to have the toys, you have to be able to afford all the costs of those toys,” said McNelis. “Me personally, I do own an RV as well. But I do pay to have it stored at Santee Lakes.”
Known for its fishing and camping, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is the only spot in town with dedicated RV storage.
“We have 311 spaces, ranging from under 20 feet to about 45 foot,” said park manager Nina Tarantino. "It’s all secured, so they use their access card to swipe in at the gate and they come into their assigned space.”
But there’s just one problem.
“We get calls every day asking if space is available”
The site has more than 180 people on its waiting list.
“Many of our customers are loyal customers," Tarantino said. "They stay for years at a time and it’s rare for us to open up a spot.”
McNelis said he knows what it is like to wait.
"I was on a waiting list for a long time before a space opened up there, and during that time, I had to store it in El Cajon, Lakeside," he said. "I just don’t think it's right for us to use our city streets as storage.”
The city of Santee just held a workshop designed to get feedback on the city's recreational parking law.
City staff are reviewing the ordinance to see if it should be changed. That can be anything from banning overnight parking altogether or creating some type of permitting system. For now, though, it seems like RV’s will stay on city streets.