Archive for Friday, April 6, 2012

City commission to consider ban on RV parking near South Park

April 6, 2012


Happy campers are beginning to make city officials less than happy.

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday will consider approving a new ordinance that will make it illegal for two long-term campers to set up make-shift living quarters in public parking spots in front of South Park.

"Mayor Mike"

Michael Tanner talks about how he got the nickname "Mayor Mike" and also about his new home, a shack built on a trailer that he pulls from his van. Enlarge video

“Massachusetts Street is not meant to be a mobile home park, for sure,” Mayor Bob Schumm said.

At their weekly meeting, commissioners will consider an ordinance that will make it illegal to park camping trailers, recreational vehicles and other similar vehicles of a certain size in the public parking places along several city streets that abut South Park. Specifically, the ordinance will prohibit camping-oriented vehicles in spots on: Massachusetts Street between 11th and South Park streets; South Park Street from Vermont to New Hampshire streets; and Vermont Street from South Park to 11th streets.

The ordinance would allow for a $50 fine each day. After a second offense, the city would be authorized to tow the vehicle.

Michael Tanner, a Lawrence street musician, has been camping in front of South Park in a wooden, home-made trailer since mid-2011, he estimated. At least one other individual regularly uses a parking spot as a camping spot.

City code currently allows the longer-term parking of vehicles in non-residential areas, as long as the vehicles are moved from the parking spots at least every 48 hours.

Tanner said he complies with that requirement and resents the city for trying to disrupt his living arrangements.

“They want me to lose everything I own so I have to lay in that (homeless) shelter and sleep in slop,” Tanner said. “They don’t like it when somebody like me pulls themselves out of the gutter.”

Tanner does have an acrimonious history with Lawrence City Hall. Most notably, Tanner was responsible for building a homeless camp on city property near the Kansas River, just north of the Santa Fe Depot. The city razed those structures in 2008, and Tanner has said repeatedly that he has never forgiven the city for those actions.

City officials, though, said they have had several complaints in recent weeks about Tanner and the other man who are living next to the park and playground area. Schumm said he thinks there are potential health concerns by allowing the activity, such as the potential for inappropriate disposal of sewage.

In a November Journal-World article, Tanner said he used city facilities — such as the nearby Community Building — for showers and other basic services.

Schumm said he has asked city staff members to research whether there are other areas people could legally park their campers in the city. Schumm said if there are not, the individuals could rent space in a mobile home park or campground area.

“The city streets don’t owe them a long-term camping spot,” Schumm said.

Commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


geekin_topekan 6 years, 1 month ago

It aint camping when its all you have in the world.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 1 month ago

"Schumm said if there are not, the individuals could rent space in a mobile home park or campground area. “The city streets don’t owe them a long-term camping spot,” Schumm said. ++++ Geez, next thing you know you'll make him buy health insurance!

50YearResident 6 years, 1 month ago

"Schumm said if there are not" ??????? Is this English?

matthew2600 6 years, 1 month ago

"Tanner said he used city facilities." So he hates the city, is offended by everything they've done to him but is also willing to take advantage of things the city offers? Good thing the rest of us have normal jobs and pay our taxes so he can use those facilities.

Nathan Atchison 6 years, 1 month ago

if these guys were a little less conspicuous this would not be an issue. when u park a giant crappy rv on mass. people are gonna start sniffin around.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 1 month ago

“They don’t like it when somebody like me pulls themselves out of the gutter.”

Really? To be honest, he IS living in the gutter. And he IS homeless. That's not a mailing address. He doesn't have home delivery of mail. He's a homeless guy who lives in the gutter with slightly more style than others have lived in the gutter, but he's not the picture of "overcoming".

He's NOT being evicted. He has many other miles and miles of road where he can park his home. He's not going to be sleeping in a snow bank because he can't park on the 1200 block of Mass.

He's a squatter and a drama queen.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 1 month ago

I totally agree with... Oh, wait. I posted this.

rachelind 6 years, 1 month ago

Thank you! I agree you! I have nothing against poverty- it's real and something I'm quite familiar with but there's no defense for those RVs. They CAN go elsewhere, and hopefully, they will!

itsalwayssunnyinlarry 6 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you. And it's a tarnish to a beautiful park. We had a family living in our parking lot in Winnebago , too. It was not fun to see every morning and it is a blight no matter where it is.

if the occupy hippie's couldn't camp in south park why do these people get to?

geekin_topekan 6 years, 1 month ago

So where in the Constitution does it say that a man must live within four walls and a mailbox? Why would you want to make him pay for something he obviously doesn't need or want? Next thing you know you'll be making him buy health insurance,

50YearResident 6 years, 1 month ago

The President says everyone has to buy health insurance.

rachelind 6 years, 1 month ago

That van+box is the definition of a "rapey" looking vehicle.

deec 6 years, 1 month ago

Y'all sure are worried about this guy living without owing rent. Jealous?

itsalwayssunnyinlarry 6 years, 1 month ago

Not really. I'm proud of owning a home, having a job, and not making the park look ugly.

Dragon_Wheels 6 years, 1 month ago

Not jealous, just proud of our beautiful city. Here's a solution...let him park his home in your driveway, or even better, your back yard. Let him use your garden hose for his showers. Oh, and maybe you can join him and all his buddies in sing-alongs around a campfire and share drinks. Why is it jealousy for resenting someone living free and clear in space they don't pay for, when the rest of us work ourselves to early graves to pay in our fair share? I, and every other taxpayer, pay for that space, yet would never think to use it as our home or toilet! This is an area meant for the enjoyment of nature's beauty and relaxation, NOT for staring at someone's trashy trailer. With all the wilderness and open land in this area, it's not like there is nowhere to go, just nowhere he wants to go.

Gotalife 6 years, 1 month ago

This is FANTASTIC news!! The ordinance can't come too soon. Deec...seriously, "jealous"....LOL. Yes, everyone is jealous of living in a crap mobile, with a pee can by the back door.

deec 6 years, 1 month ago

There seem to be an inordinate number of remarks targeting these two men because they are not encumbered by rent/mortgage and utility bills. It sure sounds like you all are jealous that they don't have to pay these bills like you all do.

del888 6 years, 1 month ago

I say let 'em stay, but enforce a $500 PER DAY camping fee.

Deb Engstrom 6 years, 1 month ago

Seems like people have too much time on their hands if this is a problem for them. Leave them alone! There's plenty of room on my street if they have to move,though. It will keep the students from parking in front of my house and vomiting on my yard.

Gotalife 6 years, 1 month ago

I've got a better idea DEB..If you are so ok with this homeless guy in the homemade camper, how about you invite him to live inside your house instead of parked out in front?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

Split the difference. Let them park in your driveway. Now your address is...?

Deb Engstrom 6 years, 1 month ago

I knew this would be the response and I will tell you that I have done that in the past. I don't know for sure, but I believe that these guys would rather live in their own places than mine.

50YearResident 6 years, 1 month ago

So you are willing to trade some vomit for a bucket full of excretement in your yard?

Deb Engstrom 6 years, 1 month ago

At least the excrement (if that's indeed what it is) is in a bucket with a lid on it and can be easily disposed of. Could even be used for fertilizer!

Mike Hatch 6 years, 1 month ago

Just wondering if the vehicle and trailer have tags registered in DG county with taxes/tags currently paid (would have to have a physical address to register it to, though...but could have a PO box I guess) and if so, how could it pass the State inspection needed to get it registered if it's "home made"? I've never seen it myself, but have read it's a home made self-described shack on wheels being towed by a van. When I see traditional trailers on the highway being towed by a vehicle, both the vehicle and the trailer have tags. When I was a kid, we had a fishing boat we'd tow behind the truck on a frame and it had a tag and working tail/turn lights.

I'm all for doing your own thing as long as you're not hurting anyone and you're within the law, but this seems to be pushing things a bit. I'd feel the same way if someone was doing the same thing with a brand new beautiful expensive 'store bought' trailer.

irvan moore 6 years, 1 month ago

i noticed it was gone a little while ago when i went down mass

Liberty275 6 years, 1 month ago

I bet if you were a mechanic, and had to work on one (and had to pull the doghouse) you wouldn't think they were so beautiful.

Dummash 6 years, 1 month ago

The county would not let me live in an rv on my property while building a home. Why should this guy get to live parkside?

Jay Lovett 6 years, 1 month ago

Schumm has his office given to him and whats the first thing he does? Directs an ordinance change at 2 individuals within a mile of his crappy fry joint. He's not going to use that position to further his own interests, no way! Look out Schumm, I'm gonna throw you back in that porta john at Clinton for not paying for your coke.

BruceWayne 6 years, 1 month ago

The Buffalo Bob Porta Jon of my campfire favorites.

BruceWayne 6 years, 1 month ago

Ban soggy fries...and fake barbecue. But always no matter what SHOUT PEACE.

BruceWayne 6 years, 1 month ago

And while you are there, ban Cram-well and Core-less. Fools.

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

Alceste believes it will be just great if those whom this new city rule/regulation/ordinance impacts shall elect to park their thingys out in the neighborhoods of west Lawrence (AKA: East Topeka)....and in front of the homes of college football coaches, athletic directors, basketball coaches. and other very well heeled members of the "community". Let the rich folk deal with parking matters/concerns/issues/problems for a change.

Too, the residents of the "RVs" in question may well find they're in much more serene and comfortable residential neighborhoods instead of the crime laden sectors of town.....such as "downtown" Lawrence. Heck, let 'em park out front of Bob Schumm's house!

Jayhawk1958 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm tired of the homeless taking advantage of this community. Our city is TOO NICE to people they shouldn't be nice to. Their is a KOA campground available. If you can't afford it then too bad and move on. You can't allow human feces in public areas.

Alceste 6 years, 1 month ago

Heck, Jayhawk1958: Human feces is pretty much all that was "downtown" after those silly bounce a ball games.....and it is all that is "downtown" after's always good to be observant......Lawrence is loaded to the gills with fecal matter of one type or another, eh?

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