Several parking lots remain closed at area parks and beaches in response to the public health emergency. These sites allow RV parking.
A Goleta staff report said people living in RVs with no other residence have limited options to park and shelter in place during the statewide stay-at-home order that Gov. Gavin Newsom issued more than a month ago.
On April 21, the council voted 4-0 to approve an order to suspend the consecutive duration limit and the requirement that RV owners be members of Elks Lodge No. 613.
Councilman Roger Aceves recused himself from the vote because he is board chairman of the Elks Lodge, at 150 N. Kellogg Ave.
Prior to the vote, the RV parking area was restricted to lodge members only, except one spot for families of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital patients.
Councilman Kyle Richards voiced strong support.
“Clearly, there is a need for it,” he said. “There are members of our community who are in dire restraints. This is one way to help some people out who wouldn’t otherwise have a place to live.”
Guests are required to adhere to the RV parking area rules, according to city planning manager Lisa Prasse.
The Santa Barbara Elks Lodge operates its 27,000-square-foot building along with a short-term overnight parking area for 16 RVs.
Only half of the RV spaces would be allowed to be used because of coronavirus social distancing measures imposed by the state and Santa Barbara County. An RV must be parked at least one parking space away from another RV except for an RV at the end of a parking aisle, Prasse said.
The Elks Lodge requested — and in early April City Manager Michelle Greene granted — lifting the 14-day limit on consecutive overnight stays in the RV parking lot and the membership eligibility requirement because of the coronavirus.
“Over recent weeks, there have been at least three individuals who are staying in the lot because of impacts due to the COVID-19 situation,” Greene said.
She said one of the individuals is a local firefighter and another is a Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital nurse.
Both are Goleta residents, Greene added, and the active firefighter expressed concern he might inadvertently carry the virus home, infecting an elderly housemate.
The Elks Lodge has been located at the North Kellogg site, a half-block off Calle Real, since the late 1960s.
The organization has several conditional-use permits to allow RV parking on the property, Prasse said.
The RV parking area is served with utilities, including water, electricity and sewer service.
The council’s action allows people who have no other primary residence to use the RV parking area.
“This would be consistent with the governor’s order to allow such usages where people don’t have any other place to shelter-in-place,” Prasse told the council.
No members of the public requested to speak on the item by email or telephone.
Newsom issued his order on March 19. On April 5, Santa Barbara County officials issued an order to close down private and public campgrounds and recreational parks. People who certify their RV is their primary home may be permitted to stay in the RV parks.
Safe Parking Program
Run by the nonprofit New Beginnings Counseling Center, the Safe Parking Program provides monitored overnight parking for homeless clients throughout Goleta, Santa Barbara and neighboring unincorporated areas of the county.
The program was launched in Santa Barbara in 2004.
Expanded measures are in place to meet the demand from the coronavirus.
“Safe Parking has indeed increased the number of porta potties that we have available for clients to use, and we have doubled the number of times that they are being serviced,” Cassie Roach, the program coordinator and senior case manager at New Beginnings Counseling Center, said in an email.
“Additionally, we have been able to partner with some of our existing lots and other local providers to ensure our folks have a safe spot to be able to shelter in place.”