Jeb Bladine: City struggles with on-street RV living

Only online subscribers may access this article.

One-day subscriptions available for just $2. Subscribe online by clicking here.

Already a subscriber, please .



Where are they dumping their waste?

I imagine a Christmas Vaction situation.


As in a teachable moment this may well allow the city to create a taxable situation. Sort of a motel tax.
Denise has a good point.

Jeb Bladine

RVs can have full sink-shower-toilet facilities. However, they require intake of water from outside the RV, and underneath water and black water tanks must be manually dumped into sewer systems. One wonders whether there are city inspections related to the presence or lack of such facilities in RV homes.

Many cities, especially large cities, face similar situations. A recent commentary in Los Angeles urged the city to create Safe Parking Areas for RVs instead of trying to ban living in RVs.

Bill B

There are RV parks. There are a number in the county. The ordinance about parking needs to be changed particularly the 350 feet rule. What's that all about?
No water, electricity, sewage. Seems like a welfare check is in order.


Jeb, I understand how RV’s work. We have a diesel pusher.

My concerns are that untreated human waste may be illegally pumped into the sewer system.

Also, one family has seven people living in an old, dilapidated RV with no power, water, or sewer amenities, five of which are children.

I drove down Doran Drive to get a sense of what was happening, and I was shocked. I feel horrible for those families with homes in the area, and concerned that children being home schooled in a grossly under equipped “home”. If this were a traditional stick home, it’d be condemned.

Why not those RV’s?

Jeb Bladine

Agreed that there's plenty to be concerned about, Denise, including health inspections of "RV housing."

Cities have struggled with constitutional rights related to people sleeping on public sidewalks, and sleeping inside an RV on public streets is an extension of that legal debate. In many places, that debate comes down to availability of alternatives.

One wonders if the Housing Authority, which subsidizes rental housing for low-income residents, should consider subsidizing RV park occupancy for low income people.


McMinnville has free rv dumping at the water reclamation plant.
Seems like the rv's have moved to YCAP on Dustin.
There were quite a few of them there this morning.


I agree with the Los Angeles idea of creating designated safe parking areas. Simply writing citations without giving people legal options will do nothing to solve the problem.

Bill B

The only problem that solves is getting them off the street


Uh yeah....Isn't that the problem?


I’m not sure it’s ethical to allow children to grow up in a 100-180 square foot structure with no power, water, or sewer.

In the case highlighted recently, five children are living just that way. Furthermore, they are homeschooled, so nobody other than the caregivers get to see how they are doing.

If they lived in a house with those exact conditions, CPS would be involved.

I think that’s the bigger problem.

Why does something on wheels get to skirt all the laws?

Just shoving them into an empty parking lot with no RV hookups does nothing.

Bill B

Tagup if you see that as the only problem, you have a problem. See Denise's response.


Bill---The headline stated the issue as "on-street RV living"...Now you want to dictate the size of the structure that the family is living in, or how many children they can have, or if their education meets your approval?.....I'm not sure you have any right to judge any of those subjects...



I’m not sure I understand what your implying. You’re suggesting that the state has no authority to ensure those who can’t make their own decisions, such as children, have a safe, hygienic, environment with a minimum of space to grow up in?

What if someone was living in a garden shed on the side of the road with five children?

Would that be okay?


Denise raises a valid point: if five minors were living in a squalid permanent house with no sewer, no water, no power, no gas, DHS/CPS would be all up in there. But because they're being raised by alternative parents who eschew normal standards of stability — while occupying a dilapidated recreational vehicle with no sewer, no water, no power, no gas — that's all perfectly acceptable? Further, the children do not attend public schools, where at least any obvious signs of neglect/abuse/deficiency might be noted and reported? Nothing wrong here? No red flags? Everything's fine because the family homestead sports a couple of hubcaps?

Frankly, whether or not a sewer-less, power-less, water-less, gas-less dwelling has wheels should be irrelevant to those charged with safeguarding Oregon's children. Squalor is squalor, whether it's portable or permanent.

For the most part, I enjoy the sometimes-paradoxical nature of this independent-minded state but I occasionally fail to understand its more obvious inconsistencies. For what it's worth, I like tagup's suggestion for safe parking areas with a few fundamental amenities provided. This could potentially help solve the problem, at least in the short term.

(Read no further if you're easily offended. My favorite Oregon paradox: the "progressive rube." The progressive rube is an Oregonian who considers him- or herself a loyal Democrat, always firmly marking his or her ballot in blue, champion of all things progressive -- but he or she just really doesn't care for brown people who don't speak English well. I know dozens of them and they earn both my scorn and my pity. Sometimes I think life in Oregon would be idyllic without all the weirdness. But then I remember that the weirdness is what enamored me of the state in the first place. Whatever the case, I shake my head in wonder at all the simultaneous forward thinking and hillbilly hegemony.)

Jeb Bladine

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that real people can be the target of comments here – people who feel themselves unfairly targeted. With that perspective, I’m passing along an email I received from one of the RV “residents,” who identifies herself as “Valerie:”

I’ve corrected a few minor typographical errors, but otherwise the message is exactly as sent to me.

Jeb Bladine

“I don't have an account so I cannot comment to some of the ridiculous comments on the website about my family.

“A few things: my kids are well taken care of. City officials know this ... We are not new at doing this. My kids are ‘home schooled’ meaning they take classes online at home through the public education system. So yes ... My kids are registered in classes.

“My RV is fully functional, is far from dilapated but it is old. I have water. I have heat. I have propane. I have a stove and a fridge and a bathroom. All functional.

“I’m getting tired of being attacked for my parenting, and my older kids are super-sickened to read what these people are saying about their parents.

“McMinnville has a free RV dump site. The dump site is open 24/7. There is no "human waste" being leaked.

“Don’t have to deal with cps because we are good loving parents. My kids have their needs meet and they’re happy, well adjusted children.”


I'll be the first to admit I can be wrong. After all, Oregon's well-known independent (and sometimes contrary) spirit has produced countless well-adjusted adults — people who were raised with other-than-mainstream standards by earnest and hard-working parents. That rugged and quirky spirit is a significant part of the state's charm.

Valerie has addressed most of the concerns voiced here — pointing out that assumptions I and others made are incorrect. If what she says is true, no one (including me) has any business telling her how to live her life. So, Valerie, I apologize. While I may disagree with your parenting style, my own parenting habits were imperfect and it's not my place to tell you how to raise your kids.

And that brings us back to the original issue: a de facto RV park on a residential street. Regardless of where one's political sympathies lie, most of us could probably agree a responsibly funded space where families such as Valerie's could legally park would solve the immediate issue.



I appreciate your response in this.

However, even best case scenario, and those RV’s are fully functional, which I would think nearly impossible, the fact remains that seven people and one pit bull living full time in any of the RVs I saw would be miserable, and in my opinion, abusive. I mean what if they have five more kids and you have 12 folks stuffed in the vehicle? At what point is it not okay? I would still think CPS should do an inspection to see if those kids are being provided the basics in an unfortunate, unique situation.

Irrespective of that, walking around with firearms and letting your pit bull run freely is obviously not a good way to endear yourself to your neighbors, who clearly don’t appreciate it. Nor would any rational person. I’m not sure why Valerie would think it is, and makes me wonder about her temperament.

Anyways, I hope an equitable, safe solution is found.


It’s refreshing to see someone that has the strength and character to adjust their point of view when faced with a new set of facts.....as others stick to their inaccurate moral judgments, posts like yours are a breath of fresh air. Well done...


Of course it can be that easy. It took one council session to ban plastic grocery bags, thereby profoundly upsetting the shopping habits of an entire town. It should take precisely one council session to change the RV law to match that of Newberg.



It could be exactly as easy as that.

Except for enablers such as tagup who will throw up some kind of twisted moral argument that it’s okay to have substandard living conditions for children and that’s it’s none of our business. Until there’s a fire and they all perish, or some other terrible, preventable tragedy befalls them.

Then folks like tagup will demand to know how such a situation was allowed to happen.

Wasn’t there just such a recent preventable tragedy in Amity?

How quickly we forget.


Advocating government intrusion into the personal lives of citizens, based on fear or a transparent and false argument of concern is not a direction I would support for our society.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable