By Christina Jones, CAPP
#VanLife hit peak viral status in 2017, with influencers providing MTV Cribs-style walk-throughs on their YouTube channels of their custom-built rigs, and Instagramming updates of the challenges and adventures of the lifestyle. Inhabited vehicles, though, have been a way of life for years for many, and the experience is not always that of the romanticized dream of life on the road. Whether related to economic circumstance, a nomadic lifestyle, visitors passing through, or long-term storage, inhabited vehicles can have serious effects on the public rights-of-way beyond parking including reduced line of sight and impeding accessibility. Now, with the pandemic’s effects, we have seen essential workers and residents under physician recommendation utilizing recreational vehicles and campers to isolate and self-quarantine from their families. As the CARES Act and state protections expire, some are forecasting a housing crisis with record numbers of foreclosures and evictions, which has the potential to exponentially increase the number of vehicles inhabited within public rights-of-way.
Spending the past year researching what communities throughout the Mountain and West Coast regions are doing to address the issues related to inhabited vehicles, I authored a whitepaper exploring several approaches in use. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to addressing inhabited vehicles in the public rights-of-way. Often, good intentions simply push the issues related to these vehicles down the road, can inadvertently punish those who have already fallen on hard times, or chase visitors to communities perceived to be more welcoming to their mode of travel. To learn more about how to avoid these pitfalls and how some communities are addressing inhabited vehicles, please be sure to check out “Where Should the RVs Go?” in the November issue of Parking & Mobility.
Christina Jones, CAPP, is a parking analyst with Walker Consultants.