Friday, April 04, 2008

Suburban slowburn heats up

Do you own an RV? If you do, is it parked on your property, or do you keep it in storage? If it is parked on your property, please keep in mind that you have neighbors. Yes, I know that it is your property and you can what you like, but if you live in a suburban neighborhood, you must realize that the RV parked on your driveway might as well also be parked in your neighbor's driveway as well. Here is an example:

It took that photo last November from my driveway, looking toward my neighbor's house. This piece of sh** RV has been parked like that since September of 2007. I previously blogged about my displeasure with this situation.

At the time I took that photo, we had just put our house on the market, and I was voicing my worries that this stupid RV could have an impact on our attempt to sell our house. Well, it is now April and our house is still on the market. During that time, can we prove that the RV had a negative effect? Probably not. But think about all the traffic that has driven by during those months. Think about all those people who saw our For Sale sign and then saw the big piece of crap shoved up against our property line, and said to themselves, "Thanks, but no thanks."

And then, last week it happened. A nice old lady came with her agent to look at our house. Usually, my family and I exit and go run errands or something while our house is being toured. This time, we just hung out in the backyard. We briefly talked to the prospective buyer, and we could tell she was pretty impressed with the house.

A couple days later, our agent called us and told us that the lady loved our house and would make an offer right now but for one major issue: GUESS?!!! I was so livid, I wanted to go next door and take a frickin' sledgehammer to that hulking hunk of metal.

So what can be done about this situation? A little, but not much. According to the zoning code for Sacramento County, you can park your RV on your property. In the city itself, you cannot; you have to store it. Unfortunately, we don't live in what is considered the city limits, so it is the county code that applies. After poring over the code, I did find something though. You can't see it in the photo, but the RV is parked in this dirt side strip that lies alongside the neighbor's paved driveway. According to the zoning code, you cannot park any vehicle - RV or otherwise - on dirt; you must park your vehicles on pavement. The neighbor's paved driveway is already jammed with four other cars, so the only place to put the RV is on that dirt strip. Additionally, the mother-in-law has been living with these neighbors since last summer, and began sleeping in the RV at night as soon as it was parked on the property. A power cord and a TV cable have been hooked up to the RV that whole time. Hooking power up to, and sleeping in the RV are major no-no's according to the County Code.

Armed with this information and highlighted copies of the relevant pages of the code, I went next door two weeks ago - this was before the prospective buyer voiced her reservations about the RV - and talked to the neighbor wife, who was home at the time. I told the wife that we had been unsuccessful selling our house, and we had a terrible feeling that the RV had something to do with it. The wife crossed her arms and immediately became very defensive. She said - get this - "We can't store the RV, my mom is sleeping in it at night." This gave me the perfect opportunity to pull out the zoning code. I said, "That brings us to the next issue: according to the county zoning code, no one can sleep in the RV while its parked on the property." I then also informed her about the parking situation, and how it needed to be parked on pavement. The wife got even more defensive and said, "We ain't moving the RV. We can't afford storage." I told her, "According to the zoning code, you can park the RV on your property, but it has to be parked on pavement. Where it is currently parked, you are violating the zoning code." She then said, "Well, we are going to have to pave that area then, because we ain't moving the RV."

So that pretty much wrapped up our conversation. I reminded her one more time that the RV was illegally parked, and then I tapped the copies of the zoning code and told her she could keep those. I got up and walked back to my house, picked up the phone, and entered a complaint with County Code Enforcement; that was on March 24th. I have called the County back for an update, and here is bureaucracy at work: Code Enforcement mailed a letter to my neighbors March 27th. The neighbors have 15 days to reply, taking into account mailing time and weekends. If the county doesn't receive word from the neighbors after that period, they call me or my wife and ask us if there is still a problem. Seeing as how the RV hasn't moved this whole time, then yeah, there still is a problem: It is still parked in the dirt and it is still hooked up with power and cable cords. Once I confirm to the county that the problem still exists, then they send someone out to - what? - issue a citation? Tow the thing away? I'm not exactly sure. All I know is that we are trying to sell our house, and there is a humongous, ugly-ass RV practically parked on our property.

After the negative feedback from the prospective buyer the other day, my wife and I got proactive. We went to Home Depot bought six Italian Cypress trees (cupresses sempervirens), and I spent the better part of yesterday planting them. I took this photo about an hour ago:

These immature trees by no means block out the RV, and we could easily plant another five or six of them to really put up a wall of green. But for a prospective buyer, he or she would hopefully get the idea of our intentions by planting those trees, which will eventually double or triple in width, and grow to a height that dwarfs the RV.

I shudder to think how much time and money our neighbors have cost us. Aside from the $300 dollars we spent on those trees, we have had to drop the price of our house by about $30,000. We will never know if the house could have sold at the original price without the RV being parked there, but my gut feeling is that the RV is what necessitated the drop in price. Think about it: why buy this house with the piece of crap parked next door, when there are any number of other houses for sale in my neighborhood that have no such visual blights outside?

Once again, Dear Readers, if you have an RV parked on your property, please look at it with fresh eyes, and put yourself in the place of the people who live around you. My family and I are living proof of the impact on lives that a parked RV can have.

Good Day to You, Sir


Darren said...

My next-door neighbors have a 1972 travel trailer parked in their driveway. Cars are parked on the street.

Don, American said...

That RV doesn't seem to look any worse than most. It's the neighbors' nasty attitude that would frost me.

Anonymous said...

put a fence up!

Chanman said...

I did! It's made of cypress trees.

Polski3 said...

Does the thing have current tags? Good luck with selling your home and dealing with such neighbors.

Chanman said...

Holy Crap! I never even thought to look at the tags. I just went outside and checked them: January 2008; they are three months expired.

In just a few minutes of searching the Sac County zoning code (I have come to know it quite well), I found this:

330-12(a) - shall be unlawful for any person to park or store... any automotive vehicle or any trailer without current registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles on any lot in any residential... zone.

Thanks Polski!

Anonymous said...

Give us regular updates on this situation. I'm curious to see how things play out.

John in E. TN