PARADISE — Ahead of the expiration of a temporary ordinance allowing RV living in Paradise, the town is offering services to help people find more permanent residences.
To address the temporary housing crisis created by the Camp Fire, the council originally amended the zoning code to provide two allowances:
- Dry camping without a permit for a six-month period;
- Allow permitted RV living with certain conditions until Dec. 31, 2020.
While the action provided residents the option to live on their properties, the council also established the Building Resiliency Center to assist individuals in rebuilding their homes. However, many need more help to get out of living in an RV before the ordinance expires in December.
According to Town Manager Lauren Gill, there are approximately 300 unpermitted RVs, many not connected to septic systems. Gill cited regular reports of people dumping sewage on lots and found several unpermitted RVs on properties not legally owned by the occupants.
“The town recognizes many people who are living in RVs on their own properties have a plan to rebuild, but need time, money, or other assistance,” she said. “Our goal is to help those who need it while mitigating crime, illegal/incompatible uses, and public health issues.”
Gill’s public health concerns include illegal squatting, lack of garbage services and increased illegal dumping of garbage, which she said left unchecked, will produce many illegal “dumping sites” that are difficult and costly to clean up.
These impacts “are not conducive with community recovery; and, if left unchecked, can turn into serious threats to public health and safety,” she said.
Staff has been working to gather information from Camp Fire victims who are living on their properties in RVs, to determine the community’s need and what resources are available. The Building Resiliency Center is currently taking a survey of those living in RVs to determine the scope of these unmet needs, such as:
- There are 521 permitted RVs living on their property in the Town of Paradise. Of these, 31 have homes already rebuilt, and 120 have active building permits;
- The number of Temporary RV applications peaked in December of 2019 and have since sharply declined;
- There are an estimated 300 RVs who do not have a temporary use permit on file.
Early survey results show the following obstacles faced by many residents:
- Waiting for funds;
- Need some type of grant assistance or other types of gap financing due to being underinsured;
- Renting before the fire and now need a place to live;
- Occupying family or friends’ lots.
“We need to dig deep and look for common solutions to the challenges that face us so we can move forward,” Gill said.
Getting people into permanent housing situations early before the “sunset” on the ordinance is the main focus, she said.
“My hope is to get people into a permanent home on their property and work with people who need more time … or have rental units available or mobile home park coming online that can provide rental spaces for those individuals.”
With many hazardous trees coming down through the state removal program towards the end of August, she said “We’re going to see a lot of work in that (rebuilding) effort, that will make it more safe in town for people to live.”
Gill cited several affordable housing opportunities soon becoming available to people, including Bushman Road senior living, affordable apartments in lower Paradise, and Community Housing Improvement Program’s Paradise Community Village.
This project broke ground Monday and will allow people temporary or permanent affordable homes, Rental Housing Director Kris Zappettini said. In the rebuild effort, she said she has already seen some people move from temporary homes into the self-help home ownership program.
“We hope to be bringing back what was important (for affordable housing) and now even more essential after the Camp Fire,” she added.
Anyone seeking help with affordable housing options on the ridge, residing in an RV in Paradise who has encountered obstacles to rebuilding or who has questions can call Rebuild Advocates at 872-6291 at extension 429 or extension 430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com