Town of Paradise cracking down on residents living in RVs

The town of Paradise is still trying to get back to normal after the Camp Fire, but now some people living in RV’s are worried about their future. Action News Now Christina Vitale breaks down the new ordinance and spoke with people on the ridge about their concerns.

Posted: Jul 23, 2020 3:49 PM

PARADISE, Calif. – The Town of Paradise is still trying to get back to normal after the Camp Fire, but now some people living in RV’s are worried about their future.

“I don’t want to be kicked off my property, I don’t know where I’d go,” shared Kimmy Benn.

The Paradise Town Council is changing an ordinance allowing people to live in RVs on their property after the Camp Fire. Town Councilwoman Melissa Schuster said that ends on Dec. 31.

“The people that already have RV permits already, have already agreed that they would have building permits by Dec. 31," Schuster said. “Those that are just getting their RV permits must have a building permit issued in order to obtain an RV permit.”

Schuster said Paradise wants to return to pre-fire rules. “People were not allowed to live on their properties unless they had an active building permit, so that’s just what it goes back to.”

The concern comes from some RV owners taking advantage of the urgency ordinance.

“And essentially squatting and causing a lot of health issues, a lot of safety issues, there was a lot of crime associated with that,” Schuster said. “We still need to make sure that people are planning to rebuild, that they are building their homes in order to live on their property.”

“Our intention is 100% to build a stick home, that’s what we wanna do. But with this ordinance, it’s not going to give us the time to do that,” Benn said.

The owner of the property, Kimmy Benn told Action News Now she was just able to move back to Paradise in March after receiving a permit for her motorhome. Now, she says she’s worried about being kicked off her own property come the end of the year.

Benn says she’s waiting on the PG&E settlement to move forward.

“Our whole emotional being is wrapped up in this lawsuit and we’re supposed to on top of it be getting building permits, and loans, and everything else,” Benn shared.

Schuster says no one is going to be throwing people off their property. "The Building Resilience Center and this team is here to find out what are those hurdles? How can we help you overcome those hurdles?" However, she added, if a property owner with an RV permit already can’t get their building permit by the end of the year, they will be in violation of the ordinance.

“It made me feel like the town council doesn't have sympathy for the people that want to come back home,” said Benn.

But Schuster added that she too is still living in an RV on her property. “We care about the people of this community,” Schuster said the town issued 500 RV permits – 175 of those have building permits – the BRC is reaching out to the rest.

“How close are they to getting their building permits issued, what are the things that they are coming up against that's making it difficult and how can we help?” Schuster shared.

“Most people here want to have a beautiful town and we will have that again you just have to give us more time,” said Benn.

The town is working to identify alternatives for RVs that are on individual properties, like RV parks with hookups. Schuster says nothing in the revised ordinance mentions fines or forcible removal of people from their properties. The BRC is willing to work with property owners to make sure they meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

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