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Dickinson to review camper parking rules

Dickinson City officials may alter ordinances to alleviate issues caused by campers parked on city streets, like this one Tuesday in Dickinson.

Dickinson commissioners have received complaints about campers parked on streets. To alleviate the problem, they may revise the rules.

A housing crunch driven largely by an oil boom has brought more campers to Dickinson streets.

However, it's also against rules to park a camper on the lawn, unless it's on concrete or gravel, City Planner Ed Courton said, though rules are more lenient if it's in a backyard.

Commissioner Carson Steiner recently said campers, RVs and trailers can obstruct street and sidewalk traffic.

"On a lot of them what you're seeing is their slide-outs are open and if they're toward the sidewalk they're creating a problem with people walking," he said. "Some of them have an electrical cord strung across city sidewalks out to the street."

Campers with slides open to the street take up too much of the driving lane, he added.

"My concern is that if somebody on the other side parks their camper, too ... there's no way that a fire truck is going to get between the two," he said. "The size of these campers now, they're so big that drivers can't tell if kids are going to be running around them or not."

Courton said city ordinance stipulates nothing can be parked on city streets for more than 48 hours.

However, Steiner said it's difficult to enforce and he wants to see that changed.

"How do they really know, outside of a guy telling them 'hey it's been there for three days,'" he said. "So a guy says 'if I move it 2 inches is that moved?' Well yes and no I suppose. It's just those kinds of games that we don't have time to play with these people."

He said Dickinson Police officers are too busy to be focusing on parking violations.

"It's just a cat-and-mouse game and I don't know where these people would put all of their travel trailers and campers once they take them off the street, but I don't know if that's the city's problem," Steiner said.

Dickinson Police Capt. Joe Cianni said it's common to see campers parked on the street in the fall.

DPD have been enforcing parking violations in the winter to aid in snow removal.

"Can you imagine two campers parked across from each other and get three feet of snow?" Steiner said. "I mean how do cars get through there, how do trucks get through there? How does a plow?"

It's against city code to reside or sleep in a camper or connect to city sewer in Dickinson unless it's in a designated area, Courton said.

"Here's the problem: we don't have anywhere in our code that says you can live in an RV or camper as a guest for two or three days, so our code would have to be revised to allow that," he said. "Then it would be a nightmare to enforce."

A timeline to potentially change ordinances has not been established, Steiner said.