Centennial weighs RV, car parking rule changes

Recreational vehicle talks go back at least a decade, will continue this year

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The sight of a large trailer or other recreational vehicle may seem benign, but it's the subject of a regulatory balancing act that Centennial has grappled with for years.

“The intrusion of the RV into the front yard has a negative connotation for neighborhoods: the aesthetic value of an RV may be interpreted to be less than a landscaped and orderly front yard,” a Centennial city staff report from 2010 read.

That report also notes that RVs can impede pedestrians' paths on sidewalks, cast shadows that increase ice buildup during winter and block visibility from nearby driveways and streets.

Nine years later, the city hasn't put the issue to rest, still considering whether to restrict where RVs and similar vehicles can be parked on private property. City council hasn't agreed on the right move, but some councilmembers supported banning the parking of RVs in front of or on the side of homes, allowing them in rear yards but only if they aren't visible from the street. That could include campers, RVs, boats and trailers.

That discussion came in a council work meeting in April, according to a June city staff report. The council mulled it over again in a June 10 meeting, and another discussion is upcoming in September, said Barbara Setterlind, city clerk.

Several other Denver metro-area municipalities regulate where RVs can be parked, including Aurora, Englewood, Littleton and others, according to an April staff report.

The Centennial Council of Neighborhoods, a coalition of homeowners associations and similar groups, doesn't have a stance on the possible new rules, said Gerry Cummins, the group's president.

“The city seems to have this discussion every five years or so,” Cummins said. “And so far, there's nothing really that's been done.”

Covenant-controlled neighborhoods regulate parking of RVs on private property, but in neighborhoods without such rules, relegating RVs to only rear yards would “potentially create a hardship to our citizens,” the June staff report said. Outdoor storage facilities in the area are near capacity based on Centennial's limitations on RV storage lots, and such a rule would force residents to store the vehicles in facilities outside the region, the report said.

Many residents chose to buy homes in non-covenant-controlled neighborhoods because they don’t regulate parking, the report argued.

An ordinance could shape up that that allows RVs in front, side or rear yards as long as they're on a parking surface and don't overstep a possible limit on how much area vehicles can take up on a property. That would have less effect on “mitigating the visual aesthetics and reduction in front yard landscaping” but would still address some concerns, the report said.

“When it comes to safety and visibility when trying to back out of driveway,” Cummins said, people often say they “cannot see around the vehicle and see incoming cars. So it's a safety issue as much as anything.”

The city doesn't have an ordinance drafted yet for the council to vote on, Setterlind said.

RVs and trailers are allowed to park on the street for up to 48 hours at a time — with at least 24 hours in between — based on a law council passed in 2017. Under that ordinance, “RV” means a motor home or camping trailer, and “trailer” also includes utility and boat trailers.

Cummins hasn't heard much backlash to the idea of new regulations, she said. Cummins, who lives in west Centennial, said seeing RVs and trailers is “more rare than common” in Centennial.

The council has also discussed residential parking rules for cars, too. At the April meeting, council agreed it should limit parking in front yards to some percentage of front yard area, which would differ with lot size and type; limit side and rear yard parking; and require parking to be located on concrete, asphalt or pavers. It agreed it shouldn't limit the number of vehicles per home or restrict where they can be parked on the street. A formal vote has yet to be taken, though.

Other rules considered for cars on residential streets included restricting the time vehicles may be parked without being driven to up to 14 days. That's a step to manage access to parking and mitigate “the visual and aesthetic impact of stationary long-term storage of vehicles,” the June report said. Any 14-day period could need to follow a seven-day period where the car was not on the street. In April, council didn't reach agreement on what time limit to set.

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