By Nao Braverman
Some Ojai residents treasure the leisurely vacations that their motor homes or trailers allow. To them the bulky vehicles spell out memorable road trips and time spent with family. Others in the community see them as a visual eyesore and a threat to property value.
The schism among neighbors was apparent as six indignant Ojai residents came to the podium at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to protest citations they received for parking motor homes on their own property. Several others came to tout the city’s code enforcement and encourage the citation of the “unsightly” objects in their neighbor’s yards. One resident offered to volunteer and aid the code enforcement officer in citing violators.
“I don’t agree with an ordinance that tells people what they can and can’t do with their property,” said Mary Hawn. “I think if they purchase their own home, they should be able to do what they want with it. There is little enough for young people with young people and their families to do here,” she said.
Longtime Ojai resident Beth Kaser said she would have to sell her house and move if she could not keep her motor home on her property. She could either park it on her street and move it every 72 hours which was not a safe option with such a large vehicle, she said. Other nearby storage facilities were full with long waiting lists. The closest available facility was in Oxnard and charged $200 a month. Other nearby residents echoed her concerns.
Many said they had purchased their property specifically because it had a special pad for trailers. Why then were they just now being asked to give them up, they asked.
Many complained that they had been unfairly cited while other Ojai homeowners remained out of compliance and undisturbed.
The Ojai planning and zoning code, however, does find such vehicles unsightly.
According the code, the front or street side setbacks (the distance a structure must be from the edge of a lot) “shall not be used for the storage of boats, garbage habitable trailers, junk, scrap, trash, utility trailers and similar equipment, items or vehicles.”
City manager Jere Kersnar explained that, as is customary in Ojai and many other cities, the building inspector only responds to specific complaints. Recently the inspector was called to a specific site in regards to one setback storage violation. In the interest of fairness, he cited several other homes in violation that he saw from that site, no more, no less.
As directed by the City Council, Kersnar agreed to itemize the issue of motor home storage for further discussion at a future meeting.
Bill Kendall, owner of the Condor Storage facility, had a solution. In less than two months he would have 95 to 110 available recreational vehicle storage lots with wash and dump stations at his facility on 324 Bryant Street, he told eager residents and council members.
By Nao Braverman