Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ordinance targets vehicles in front of South Park

April 7, 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.

“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, homemade 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. Tuesday at City Hall.


John Hamm 6 years ago

Leave the folks alone. You might just rile a few more up and have a real "mobile" city pretty soon. You made the rules. They abide by YOUR rules it's not the time to be changing the rules.

Alexander Smith 6 years ago

Then they should all be towed away. The place were they park is NOT for people to live. They are there for people that PAY taxes in Lawrence so they have a place to park and b. Its rude and lacks morals. Plus they are an obstruction on traffic flow. They chose to buy that huge thing then they also understand that they have to park those things in certain areas. Downtown is NOT a place for RVs. It was never intedended for them.

JustNoticed 6 years ago

"They are there for people that PAY taxes in Lawrence ..." Public space is for the public and not just for those who pay taxes. You don't have to PAY for your rights as a citizen or human being. "Lacks morals"??? Wow, you are beyond the pale.

itsalwayssunnyinlarry 6 years ago

They are abusing the privilege though. It was meant to be a short term thing, not a year round home.

greenworld 6 years ago

Whats the difference between these people parking there all day and all the other homeless people that sit out in front of downtown businesses with their hand out and beg for money?? Not much. BTW- I once took a pop-up camper to Marysville Ks and camped downtown. They have hookup's and allow camping in the park downtown. The railroad tracks right next to it I must have heard the trains horns blowing a million times in my dreams that night.

50YearResident 6 years ago

You are right, both should be eliminated.

Alexander Smith 6 years ago

There is a HUGE difference. RVs are massive, obstruct traffic, take up space that TAX PAYERS of the city have right away on usage. Plus it creates problems for emergency use. As for homeless people, it sad that they are. But there has been many studies out today that show that a large portion of homeless people are that way because they chose to. Denver for example, 70 percent of homeless people (in a study about 5 years ago) could get jobs..they just didn't want to. I have a book of McDonalds gift certificats I bought 8 years ago to give out to homeless people. I still have it.. out of Lord how many I have offered it to.. not a single one wanted it.. So Don't use that lame excuse.

Kendall Simmons 6 years ago

I work with a number of homeless individuals here in Lawrence....and don't know a darned one who would turn down a book of McDonald's gift certificates. If they don't want to use it themselves, they can always sell it or swap it. Indeed, they do such things regularly.

JustNoticed 6 years ago

It's all about paying taxes with you, isn't it? I bet you think majority rule is absolute too.

Scott Morgan 6 years ago

The end of Peace and Love Hip Movement occurred when it was taken over by folks looking for loopholes on how to get the ultimate basics without doing anything for our fellow man.


Park an ugly ugly vehicle next to a common wonderful beautiful park for everyone and not even consider another human being. Yea, that's the spirit. Kansas is full of places to park, and I for certain could give a rats backside if he adds on a family room. Not in my face though.

Oh, and Charles Manson didn't help the hippies either.

George_Braziller 6 years ago

I'm not sure how they are going to be able to write an ordinance they can enforce. Practically every event at South Park that closes Mass has at least one food vendor selling from the type of vehicle they are proposing to ban.

Alexander Smith 6 years ago

Yes they can. The food vendors have to have permits. They pay for the right to be there. People in RVs come in and park there..and don't pay while YOU AND me do.

George_Braziller 6 years ago

It's a permit to sell food. Same permit regardless whether you're selling from an RV, a tent, or a cotton candy machine.

George_Braziller 6 years ago

You mean like the sidewalk obstruction ordinance? The district court judge still hasn't made a ruling on that one.

George_Braziller 6 years ago

They're the same issue thus the reason it's before a judge for a determination on the wording of the ordinance.

Richard Ballard 6 years ago

A bum by any other name smells as sweet. So does a bucket of human waste setting in the street next to a historic park.

It's about time the city fixed this unsanitary eyesore once and for all.


yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Hippies think that they can use public resources without contributing to society in the form of taxes.

Just like corporations.

Scott Morgan 6 years ago

IBM employees thousands............this guy uses services from hundreds.

greenworld 6 years ago

Campers belong out at the lake or at a campground not on a public street next to a city park that doesnt allow it. ALso in my above comment when I camped at Marysville one night, I had to go to city hall and buy a daily permit for 3.00 a day or 5.00 for weekends. See if the city started making these people buy a permit to sit there how fast they will re-locate because they are free-loaders that wont get a job and pay their dues in life. My point is they wont go to the lake because the lake charges money and these people arent about paying for anything in life. ALl the money they had probly bought the camper/rv that there living in. These type of people are probly the same ones that use both sides of toilet paper when wiping or Word to the wise on that, watch the poison ivy..ha

itsalwayssunnyinlarry 6 years ago

oh but that costs money... why pay when they get it for free?

ForThePeople 6 years ago

I'm still waiting for the city to deal with the "mobile home" parked in my neighbors driveway! And I'm not talking about a camper, this thing is a monstrosity, and should be parked in a trailer court! After having dealt with the city for now almost 5 years trying to get them to do something about his property, I'm loosing hope. They finally condemned the place after it sat rotting with no siding and insulation blowing in the wind for three years. And the process continues to be delayed. From my experience, their ordinances aren't worth the paper they're written on! Really pisses me off how quick they are to respond when it's in their front yard!

FlintlockRifle 6 years ago

Is this the same ""Home Grown Camper"" that you would see parked on Kentucky Street in the 10 hundred block??

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

Can we make him buy something he obviously neither wants or needs?

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

Food for Thought - Are we talking discrimination?

These people are not homeless. RV's cost plenty of dough. Senior citizens are known to sell those tax dollar money hole large boxes known as houses then live on in their RV's. A few months here,a few months there and some other months elsewhere leaving behind economic growth. Some will travel in RV motorcades as families that met somewhere on the road creating economic growth along the way.

Art Show vendors/artists travel in RV's.

AKC dog owners travel in these going from show to show creating economic growth where they stop.

Bands travel in RV's creating economic growth where they stop.

In some cases we're talking $50,000 - $150,000 homes on wheels. How about those stainless steel Airstream's?

How about exceptional fuel economy, towing capacityand smooth drivability make the search for newadventures easier – and greener – than ever with the Interstate. Meet the Mercedes Benz Airstream

Which potential money aka economic growth does local government want to cut off from Lawrence,Kansas?

Will visitors need to seek a variance before arriving?

Do we want to cut off potential $$$ spending in downtown Lawrence?

Kendall Simmons 6 years ago

Food for Thought - You haven't even seen a proposed ordinance yet!

Frankly, all the retirees, bands and artists I've known who travel in RVs (and I used to be a traveling artisan myself) don't park and camp long term on city streets. The bands and artists are temporary. They're there for a show, and then they move on. They bring money, spend money, earn money...and leave. The retirees (like my in-laws) use campgrounds and parks. They bring money, spend money...and leave.

I can't imagine why on earth anyone would assume that a city ordinance against long-term RV camping on city streets would chase away such "economic growth". Or why anyone would think such a frivolous argument was even worth making.

Linda Endicott 6 years ago

"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."

Frankly, this proposed ordinance doesn't mention anything about length of time that the vehicles are only mentions where they can't park and what types of vehicles can't park there...

Specifically, the same types of vehicles, and in the same locations, that the vendors have when there's an event in the do they intend to suspend the rules when an event is scheduled? Do they intend to issue parking permits for those types of vehicles during an event?

If so, then they are planning on practicing discrimination...

George_Braziller 6 years ago

You hit the nail on the head. Either allow them or don't.

lucy1 6 years ago

Flint it is the same camper. must move it or get ticket, so why not move it around the corner to get a free meal.
do not honk in protest. I know a guy who did and is now looking at a $260.00 fine and 6 months probation. he too is on video by mr. tanner, or maybe he thinks it's the mayor.

greenworld 6 years ago

I highly doubt these two dudes that park there spent 6 digits on those pieces of junk but then again a home is a home and if its in a vehicle then that is ones right. It isnt a right of a person not to follow rules or dis-obey public ordinances however. So whatever the city comes up with they will have to follow and move on. For some reason in life nobody likes people that just come to a place sit around and do nothing. Although its not against the law to do nothing in life. Im sure the city has a certain beautification that they want to follow that brings people to downtown Lawrence. For an example for years they ran off every effort to have a huge shopping mall come to lawrence because they didnt want to scare people off from shopping downtown and thought it would ruin the business downtown. So they let outlet stores at the riverfront mall and the I70 business office come in as an alternate plan which both failed miserably and now are filled up with office type places and no shopping stores. Now downtown is primarily turning into a hood/bars everywhere and very few businesses are left. A few to name that didnt make it, Johnson Furniture, Arensburgs shoes, and many more. The city tried to blame it on the ecomony but i think all in all we know the real reasons.

Kendall Simmons 6 years ago

Instead of wasting time on the old "shopping mall" argument, you ought to finally accept the fact that the prime time for indoor malls had already passed by the time Lawrence was considered as a location, and accept the fact that an indoor mall here in Lawrence would not have been successful. Places like Lawrence were simply "last gasp" locations for mall developers.

As far as "very few businesses" left downtown? Have you walked downtown lately? There are all kinds of stores. I shop at a number of them.

I also think it's unreasonable to expect that a store like Johnson's Furniture would continue to be successful downtown. Or to try to blame it's "failure" on the city or the economy...or on anything, actually. Because there's no "blame" involved. Times and tastes change. Markets change. Marketing venues change.

greenworld 6 years ago

Thats your opinion and I dont agree with it. The city has always controlled what stores and businesses that they wanted to come to Lawrence and the average fast food place only has a lifespan of 1-2 years in lawrence that is the economy as in people dont have money to spend to go shop or go out to eat unless you make alot of money. Middle class income has slowly figured out that they cant eat out everyday like they use to. This is all way beyond a small conservation. For example the city controlled the ability to build a super Walmart out of 6th and Wakarusa and instead made it so a smaller one that isnt as good had to be built. Why? For no reason at all other than they can. As far as Johnson Furniture goes, for years they were locked in on a lease that ran 800.00 a month and all of a sudden were notified that it was going to go up to 2500.00 a month which is probably what it should have ran to begin with regarding modern times and the cost to actually rent downtown. Basically they couldnt hack that type of increase 3 times the old amount and had to close. Most all those stores were family ran and not actual investment type of businesses and most all the families that ran them had money to begin with. I imagine when the parents of the businesses started to die off that the younger ones decided it wasnt worth there time and money and they started to become a money pit with no return.

ksjayhawk74 6 years ago

If I'm not mistaken, the other guy that parks a camper in front of South Park is a street musician also. He drums on a plastic bucket.

I don't like that people can park on Mass St between North Park St & 23rd St at all. It doesn't make sense that Mass St. is 2 lanes in both directions... but you can also park in those lanes!?! So if you're driving down one of the outside lanes on Mass St. you have to keep in mind that there might be cars parked in your lane of traffic... This make even less sense considering the amount of traffic that drives on Mass St. I certainly wouldn't want to park my car on Mass St., in a lane of traffic, even where is it legal. In my mind, that's begging to have my car hit while parked.

Scott Tichenor 6 years ago

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

No, what I don't like is that I'm paying for the street with my tax money and you aren't. Instead, you're turning it into a hillbilly mobile home park. You're a visual nuisance to the city. Go park in the country for all I care.

Liberty275 6 years ago

Crafting an ordinance to effectively target two people isn't really fair.

ksjayhawk74 6 years ago

The 2 people are taking advantage of a situation that shouldn't be happening in the first place.

irvan moore 6 years ago

these aren't the retirees we are trying to attract?

tdiddy 6 years ago

Way to Go Bob S! Attack the guys trying to better themselves and move on down the road. All the while helping that shmuck trying to build another ugly hotel/apartments at the corner of 9th & New Hampshire. Atta Boy Bob! Way to help the downtown business's again!

somebodynew 6 years ago

And what in (whoever's)name gives you the idea these are "guys trying to better themselves" ?? They sit there all day, use the City facilities (I hope) which they say they don't like (City), and do nothing productive. If that is trying to "better themselves" they don't have much of a bar set for themselves.

woodscolt 6 years ago

Passing an ordinance for two people at a time. That will keep the commish's real busy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Maybe what the headline writer really meant was "Ordnance targets vehicles..."

Duck and cover.

audvisartist 6 years ago

Wal-Mart allows RVs to park in their parking lots. Just saying.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

I saw the first three word's in the title of this article and the first thing I thought was, "OMG, are there war games in Lawrence?!"

3up3down 6 years ago

They would blend in real nicely with some of the slum houses in the Oread east of the campus. Just a thought.

Scott Morgan 6 years ago

Our nation is facing if not the biggest problem ever, but the most complex. When do we use common sense. Pay a women who dropped out of high school with the single intent of having children and never ever ever work, or pay a women who has significant physical disabilities or mental illness making her life miserable.

Or, pay a man disability who fathered children while not holding him accountable. A man who plays hoops at our city courts everyday and enjoys the nightlife of Mass Street.

Common sense as letting a couple of loser street musicians clutter up the view of one of our civic wonders Mass Street.

collective82 6 years ago

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

First bud, your living in a gutter still. Whats the area between the street and a curb called? Right, the gutter. Look, for those who went down Mass st the nights of the big games you were out there selling hats. Take that money and any other money you've earned get an apartment then a job. Truly get out of the gutter. If your still using tax payer provided facilities you are still a leach on society. Lots of places hire if you APPLY.

Second, parking anywhere except in areas where there is ample parking should be good for short term only, not overnight. Living in a vehicle on Mass is the same as setting up a shanty town just with vehicles.

Which leads to my last point of why this ordnance should be passed. Look at it this way people, if these two get away with it a third fourth and fifth may join them. Sure these two guys are relatively safe (except the self built home guy was dancing on the edge of the street tonight) but who's to say that the next one or the one after that isn't a predator looking at the children in the park? Do you really want to risk your kids playing a park that has homeless people living in it?

Draw the line now and draw it firm. Just because it's not a problem now doesn't mean it wont be later. I like this town and moved here after I left the military, its beautiful, safe and should be kept that way.

Rae Hudspeth 6 years ago

You do know one of these guys is a disabled veteran, right? Does that make him a leech on society? .. and spare us the predator argument, they have to register,.. are you related to the sad soccer mom who is "afraid" to bring her kids to the park? For shame. Maybe kids need to see that not everyone is as privileged as their families, and taught how to avoid troubles, you think?.

somebodynew 6 years ago

One may be a disabled vet, but don't neccessarily rule out the other option. Not everyone is registered and you would be surprised how many people register with the same address on West 10th St. Just saying there may be more than you know about one or the other.

collective82 6 years ago

Cut ally I'm a vet myself and know dang well how much help is available for those that want it. And I'm related to know one here and have no kids yet. Shall we risk your children by introducing them to the homeless people?

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

If the guy had a human foot in a bucket instead of common poo in a bucket, things would be much different.

greenworld 6 years ago

Disabled veteran?? I thought that they were traveling music artist....although they dont seem to travel much as they sit out in front of that park 20 out of 24 hrs a day. So is it the vehicle or the person or the bucket the city doesnt like or all of them?? As far as them being a disabled veteran that has no bearing on anything other than they fought for their country and became disabled. My grandpa was a disabled veteran and he lived a decent life on vermont st and parked his Rv is his driveway for years. What is kind of bizarre is I do see quite of few Rv's parked in public streets around town that havent moved in years and I guess that is ok , some of them not even tagged. Sounds like the city wants to pick on a couple small guys and need to drive around town and look at other bigger problems. Just drive over to Redbud lane if you want to see an eyesoar.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.