County to temporarily allow RVs to be used as dwellings on private property


Anyone wanting to do so would still need a permit, which would expire 30 days after the emergency declaration ends

CLARK COUNTY — Clark County Council, on Wednesday, approved an emergency ordinance temporarily permitting the use of recreational vehicles as dwellings on private property.

“Due to the continuation of the public health emergency and required quarantining and social separation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the emergency ordinance reads in part, “it is necessary to adopt a reasonable alternative means of sheltering for persons displaced due to the ongoing nationwide health emergency.”

A temporary ordinance approved by members of the Clark County Council on Wednesday would allow people to use recreational vehicles as additional living space during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo by Mike Schultz
A temporary ordinance approved by members of the Clark County Council on Wednesday would allow people to use recreational vehicles as additional living space during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo by Mike Schultz

The temporary change would expire 30 days following the end of the county’s declaration of emergency, which the council also extended on Wednesday. Previously set to expire May 13, the emergency declaration will now continue until the council votes to end it.

Mitch Nickolds, director of the county’s Code Enforcement Department, said the rule would not undo recently passed laws prohibiting the parking of recreational vehicles along public roads without permit. 

“This is directly related to the placement of RVs within the residential property boundary on private property,” Nickolds told the council.

Anyone wanting to use an RV as a place for someone to live needs to apply for a permit with the county, connect the vehicle to potable water, as well as an approved septic or sewer system.

After the emergency declaration expires, they would have 30 days to revert the vehicle back to its pre-habitation state.

Councilor Gary Medvigy voted for the emergency ordinance, but said he wants to make sure people know that this is a temporary move.

“We need these rules now to allow them, but in the future people need to know that they can’t just camp out all over their property,” he said, “and add density to their property without proper approval.”

Nickolds said his department is requiring information about where the RV would be located, and will be doing inspections of any cites, then would send out notifications 30 days before the ordinance expires to make sure people are aware.

“Because of our coordination with public health, we’re also able to ensure that they receive additional information as needed to explore other options,” Nickolds told the council.

Permitted locations could include a front or side yard, or vehicle, but the RVs would not be allowed on county roads while occupied. 

The county is hopeful the cost of implementing the program can be recouped as part of funding coming to local governments through the CARES Act approved by congress. Clark County is scheduled to receive approximately $26.9 million in funding.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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