The first two RVs towed under a new city ordinance were removed last Wednesday, and one of them had a person in it who walked away with a few belongings after telling a police officer the removal was “a bunch of bull----.”
The Dalles Traffic Safety Officer Jeff Kienlen said the man who had to vacate his RV had “spray-painted several derogatory comments about the city of The Dalles stealing his home on the inside and outside of the motorhome.”
That RV was in the 2100 block of West Seventh Street, by the Fairfield Inn. The other, which was unoccupied, was at the cul de sac at the far west end of West Second Street.
With the RV removal, there are now no more RVs parked along West Seventh Street, Kienlen said.
Jose Guzman, owner of Guzman Brothers Mobile Repair & Towing in Hood River, hauled off the RVs. He said the man on West Seventh had spray-painted “City of The Dalles Stolen” on a tarp on the front of the RV. He said he covered it up before he hauled it away. “I didn’t want to get on the highway with that.”
He also had to take a bunch of garbage off the top of the roof before he took it away, “otherwise I would’ve had an accident.”
He said the interior of the vehicle was full of garbage. “There’s nowhere to sit, nowhere to lay down, nothing. It was just garbage.”
Guzman said it takes his company about 30 days to process and dispose of an RV. It costs about $2,300 to $2,600 to process it. That doesn’t include the tow fee.
He said, “It’s an expense that everybody has to pay for.”
Kienlen said the RV owner, with whom he has had police contact for years, told him he didn’t have any money. “He made a comment, that ‘I know this isn’t right.’ I said, ‘I understand what you’re saying but you either need to get a parking permit or find a place to park it off the city streets,’ and that’s when he said he didn’t have any money to pay for that.”
The city’s new RV ordinance bans the storage of RVs and oversized vehicles on city streets. Free permits are available from the city that allow for up to five consecutive days of parking while a person is loading or unloading an RV for a trip. Six such permits can be obtained per year, but not consecutively.
So far, five or six such permits have been issued, city police said.
Police began putting door hangers on RVs and oversized vehicles on city streets after the ordinance was passed, to warn people of the new rule. None of the vehicles that got door hangers were moved.
The first item removed under the ordinance was a boat.
Nine days before the RV removals, Kienlen put door hangers on two motorhomes and one fifth wheel trailer on West Seventh Street between Myrtle and Ash streets, and one RV at the end of West Second Street.
If somebody was with the vehicle, he gave them a door hanger. If not, he left it at the vehicle. He gave each a deadline of July 28 to have them off city streets.
Two of the three RVs did not have license plates on them, and one had a license plate that expired in 2011.
He returned to check on the RVs on the 29th and one of them on West Seventh was gone.
“But the other motorhome and the fifth-wheel RV were still there and had not been moved. The occupants still had property strewn all over the street and sidewalk and it appeared they had made no effort to get ready to move,” he said.
“The motorhome at the end of West Second Street was still in the same spot,” Kienlen said. So he placed a green tow sticker on the three remaining vehicles, giving the owners until July 31 to remove them or get a free five-day permit.
Once police put the green tag on a vehicle, the city’s codes enforcement officer is notified, and the codes enforcement officer contacts the tow company to get the process started.
Police do get involved in the removal process if the codes enforcement officer asks that they be present in case the situation becomes volatile.
Kienlen said the debris had been picked up around the motorhome belonging to the man who confronted him about the removal.
Kienlen suspected the man believed by cleaning up around his RV he might get him a pass from having it removed.
Kienlen said the man and his father had been living in RVs around town for at least five years, and that the man had also been homeless at times previously.
“We’ve dealt with this family for several years with their RVs being called in as abandoned vehicles,” Kienlen said.
He said the man’s brother and another person were still living in the same area of West Seventh in a Chevrolet Blazer, “which does not fall under the new RV ordinance, but the vehicle has expired registration, which is a violation of city ordinance, and codes enforcement has tagged that vehicle for removal next week.”
Kienlen said it was important for the public to know that “we made every effort possible within the constraints of the ordinance to give people an opportunity to move their vehicle instead of having it towed. We didn’t have to leave a door hanger giving them an extra week, but we realized that this can be a major hardship for people and we wanted to give them a chance to either move it or get a permit, but when neither one of those things take place, codes enforcement had a job to do.”