Clallam commissioners mull RV complaints, land use

PORT ANGELES — A Sequim-area resident told the Clallam County commissioners Monday he is fed up with a neighboring property, where he said dozens of people have been allowed to live in a recreational vehicle for at least the past seven years.

The man said he planted trees on his property to obstruct his view of the yard and has waited for the county to enforce its codes for several years. He said he could show commissioners a stack several inches thick of police reports associated with the property.

“In my opinion, the county is just dragging their heels,” he said, adding that he feels the county continues to “kick the can” on the issue.

It was part of a discussion on how the county should address the numerous complaints it has received regarding RVs throughout the county.

Officials sought to strike a balance that wouldn’t be restrictive against law-abiding citizens but would make it easier to enforce codes against owners of nuisance properties.

Steve Gray, planning manager for the county Department of Community Development, said the county frequently hears complaints about RVs with problems including crime, gray water, garbage or all three.

He said the county code is currently fairly broad, making it difficult to enforce.

“There’s no commercial nexus and there’s no [maximum] number,” he said.

“In the past how we’ve enforced is if you have two or more, or if we can show you are renting, we would treat you similar to an RV-park type of use.”

One of the man’s other neighbors urged the commissioners to add more “teeth” to county code, adding that if the RV wasn’t on the property their problems would likely not be as bad.

Sheriff Bill Benedict, who is on a first-name basis with the property owner the men were speaking of, said there is little his department can do.

Vehicles that frequent that property are typically “associated with people with criminal backgrounds,” Benedict said.

“Very few are high-level dealers, but almost all are users.”

He said deputies do occasionally park on the road and patrol the area, an effort that “slows things down for the night,” but deputies can’t arrest people without probable cause that they have broken the law.

“Just because somebody is a drug addict and just because somebody has a criminal background doesn’t give me the right to either restrict their movements, arrest them or prohibit them from going where they want to,” he said.

Commissioner Bill Peach said it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, adding that he believes in private property rights.

“When you have someone impacting the value of your property and the quality of your life, you should have the right to stand up and say ‘excuse me, this isn’t right,’ ” he said. “Ignoring the problem is not a solution.”

Commissioners also heard from a woman who said her family frequently uses RVs on a property along the Sol Duc River, but neighbors have reporter her for having what they call an illegal RV park.

She said 20 to 30 family members will stay on the property on weekends to have fun and camp.

“We camp, we go home, we take everything with us, and we don’t leave anything out, and we have a neighbor that says we’re illegally having an RV park,” the woman said. “We aren’t drug dealers. It’s not a mess. It’s clean. It’s nice. We take our garbage with us every week.”

Gray said the county’s Planning Commission will discuss RV regulations at length during its 6 p.m. meeting at the Clallam County Courthouse on Wednesday.

“The main issue we’ll deal with is the land use side of it,” he said. “Clearly some of these uses are resulting in other issues: health, solid waste and drug-type use.”


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at

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