Archive for Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Camper action

Lawrence city commissioners should approve an ordinance aimed at removing the unsightly campers that have taken up residence in South Park.

April 10, 2012


Every once in a while, city officials face a specific problem that requires a specific legal solution. Passing an ordinance to keep camping vehicles from taking up semipermanent residence around South Park is such a situation.

Tonight, city officials will consider a measure that will make it illegal to park camping trailers, recreational vehicles and other similar vehicles of a certain size in the public parking spaces on streets around South Park. Included are sections of Massachusetts, Vermont, 11th and South Park streets adjacent to both sections of the central-city park. The proposed ordinance calls for a $50-per-day fine; after a second offense the city would be authorized to tow the vehicle.

The ordinance is intended specifically to remove a couple of trailers that serve as permanent residences and regularly park in the area. One is a homemade wooden trailer that has been calling the park home since the middle of 2011. Its owner is a street musician who lives in the trailer and uses bathroom facilities in the Community Building. Although the trailer can be found parked on the west side of Massachusetts Street most of the time, the owner complies with the existing city ordinance that allows campers to be parked in nonresidential areas as long as they are moved from the spots at least once every 48 hours.

The people who are using Massachusetts Street as a trailer-camping spot may be complying with the letter of the law, but certainly not its intent. The vehicles are unsightly and detract from the ambience of the downtown park. Mayor Bob Schumm has asked city staff members to see whether there are other spots people could legally park their campers in the city for free, but he is right in saying that, “The city streets don’t owe them a long-term camping spot.”

The owner of the homemade trailer has objected to the ordinance, saying it is intended to disrupt his living arrangement. Well, that’s true. The problem is that his living arrangement creates a disruption for everyone who visits or drives by one of the city’s most pristine and historic public parks.

That is a legitimate concern for city officials and a legitimate cause for a new ordinance to deal with the situation.


Haiku_Cuckoo 2 years ago

I don't understand the comments claiming that people are jealous of these guys. Seriously, what is so desirable about living in a wooden trailer and pooping in a bucket? Doesn't a warm bed and working plumbing sound much better? Nobody is jealous of the poor lifestyle choices these guys have made.


Gotalife 2 years ago

So a group of friends and neighbors watched the city commission meeting on television with me tonight. A room full of laughter burst forth when the two men began to speak about constitutional rights, using less than desirable language that sounded both ignorant and violent. We really got a kick out of the one comment, "and I was even sober!" Awesome...way to convince the authority before you that you have a legitimate complaint that should be taken seriously. Thanks for the laughs protesters..LOL


yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

This reminds me of the little boy sticking his finger near the little girl's face and saying "I'm not touching you."

The letter of the law may not have been crossed, but the spirit of the law certainly has been.

It is against the public good to have people living in trailers on parking spots next to the park and using the park bathrooms.

Unfortunately, the actions of these "free spirited vagabonds" will lead to the restriction of use of public space by all, such as meters or restricted parking hours.


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

There is an existing ordinance on the books that prevents long term parking on any city street.

Simple as that. These campers have been moving their vehicles like good taxpayers.


oneeye_wilbur 2 years ago

The buses that have bands in them will not be banned.

This action by the commission shows how little intellect they have. All they had to do was not allow parking on Mass along side the park on both sides from 1AM to 6AM. Then the mobile homes would have moved or ticketed and towed.

But what do you expect from a commission that believes ambience is downtown, hahahahaha..mexican food, fast food, pita pockets stuffed with something, and not to forget the trashy parking lots downtown. Mayor Schumm hasn't a clue about ambience.

Bring those trailers to Oread, they will right in with the junked cars behind houses and the monstrosity of a house on Tenn. Those guys need to start parking their vehicle whereever, so the commission can be busy writing ordinances to keep all cars/vehicles off city streets.

If they pulled into a parking space downtown and paid money, is that legal or will the City Commission be like the Williams Fund some years ago that started charging the alums who showed up for games extra money to park their RVs. No one remembers that when they parked on the area that is now a big parking lot east of the football stadium

What about all of the cars parked on grass by the front porches in neighborhoods The city doesn't enforce that?

This is again another ordinance to be written and signed by a new mayor. Just commissoners doing something to make it look like they are doing something. In the end, it doesn't matter.


pizzapete 2 years ago

I agree these vehicles are an eyesore, but they are following the existing laws. Instead of changing the law, maybe the city should consider putting in some of those 15 minutes parking meters there. You know, the ones recently put in for our convenience that give us just enough time to park, go to the bathroom, and then hurry back to the car to continue looking for a better spot.


yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

These men are squatters on public space, which is an abuse of that space. Use of the toilets in the community center is also an abuse of that facility.

They are violating the spirit of that parking space as a public parking space.

If they are destitute or mentally, they should get help at SRS.

If they want to camp, they should go to a campground.

I don't assume to know what their motivation is, but my suspicion is that they are lazy hippies who want to get away with something.

I certainly would not want them "parking" in front of my house. If they were, I would expect that the police would find them help or move them along.


Mike George 2 years ago

My suggestion to all who think that this type of behavior is acceptable, good for business, meets public health considerations and inspires people's consideration of Lawrence diversity - please sign a list that I will be happy to post in a conspicuous downtown location and indicate when they can park in front of your houses or in your driveways. Take some ownership in this issue, and be a good example!


Kablamo 2 years ago

Just because you think something is ugly doesn't mean you should make it illegal.


kansasredlegs 2 years ago

Will this ordinance prohibit those big RV buses from parking and taking up multiple spaces when bands playing at Granada & Bottleneck come to town?


tomatogrower 2 years ago

Is my mind a little "racy" today. I saw the headline "Camper Action" and thought "if the trailer is arockin, don't come aknocin.


BiPolarWookie_w_PhD 2 years ago

Out West we call this type of situation a failure to communicate with the Park Rangers. Urban Park Rangers seem to attract other like minded individuals with careers in Forestry and Urban Design.


SofaKing 2 years ago

KOA has some vacancies.


Richard Heckler 2 years ago

These people are taxpayers. If not they would have been notified by law enforcement by now.

I'm more concerned about politicians inability to keep "growth at any cost to the taxpayer" in check.


esteshawk 2 years ago

Wonder if they are even street legal. If not, tow them. If so, and theyve paid the vehicle registration fee, let them be.


phairen 2 years ago

Truly a waste of time and money. We have certain freedom's and the participants have made efforts to comply with the law. Let it be!


yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

If these men are destitute, they should seek help at shelters and social services. If they are mentally ill, they should seek the same.

However, they should not be allowed to park their trailers wherever they want and squat there.

Do not mistake lazy hippies for the truly destitute or mentally ill.


rockchalk1977 2 years ago

They sound like disgusting OWS fleabagger types to me. Away with this unsightly mess.


consumer1 2 years ago

So? the artwork downtown does exactly the same thing. You say pataters I say Potooters. Of all the issues Lawrence has, this is not on my list of things that need to change.


seriouscat 2 years ago

Has anyone bothered to inquire if there is a place that he could park that satisfies both desires? Would this individual be willing to move somewhere else that is still close enough to facilities but not on Mass next to the park? And has the city made any attempt whatsoever to find out?

And how come the city is ok with people actually breaking fake grass and going on rooftops for some people, but creating laws specifically to bully others?

True colors shinin through!


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