The following letter was submitted by Christina Garcia, an Oakley resident
In reading a recent article about board meeting regarding second driveways and RV/Boat parking, I could not help but think about the broader aspect of some of these issues, of which I did not see any mention in the minutes.
Before the Council/Board make any drastic and abrasive measures, I wanted to make comments in hopes that you will review and look at the issues from a Citizens perspective.
Have you considered what role the CITY itself may have played in helping to create the issues of second driveways and RV/Boats parked in driveways and not in back yards?? It seems the city has in the past been steadfast to approve high density and super high density lots for new development that removes any possible side yards for residents to park said items behind a fence. In an effort allow developers to place as many homes as possible in a development, the city did not consider off street parking for the multi generational families that now live in our communities, and all the vehicles that come with them.
Having been in Real Estate here in East County for 20 years, I hear from buyers and sellers all the time about why they moved here, and why they are leaving..
Many move to our community for its small town charm, affordable prices, larger lots or older homes and being close to the Delta which we so often promote, so the RV’s and Boats come with them. People are reluctant to store these investments in storage lots for MANY reasons: (A) Huge Monthly fee’s, (B) lack of proper security ( high rate of generator, battery theft, squatting, vandalism) and the higher insurance premium once you place a claim for said damage. (C) Inconvenience: as an example If you are planning a trip, you need to get off work one day, pick up Trailer from storage lot and park on the street in front of your house to plug in the fridge to chill overnight. Next day you get home from work, load food and clothes and head out, only to reverse this process when you return form your trip, hoping cars have not blocked you from parking in front of your own home. If RV/Boats are allowed to remain in driveways (as they have been allowed for MANY MANY YEARS, which is WHY many move to Oakley) the unit can be plugged in, and loaded, unloaded off street.
Now in regards to the driving over curbs/ sidewalk to get your trailer into side yard access.. I am hearing thru social media outlets that while the city prefers RV/Boat to be parked in the side yard behind the gate, the City does NOT want people jumping or driving over the curb to get to the side yard, and won’t give a permit for easement to alter the sideway to make an entry, how do you propose parties get the units from the street, to the side yard without driving over the sidewalk? One local resident has been clear to point out that it is illegal to jump the curb as it is a right of way but the homeowner is responsible for sidewalk repairs.. That the sidewalks belong to the homeowner but there is an easement granted to the city for sidewalk but no rights of encroachment. SO if I am responsible for sidewalk upkeep, and responsible to make sure the sidewalk is open to the public to walk on, ride bikes on, walk a dog on, and play hop scotch on, why can I not also use my own sidewalk to cross over, such as I do to get into my actual driveway? Is my 2 minutes to back in a trailer really impeding or encroaching on the public’s right to cross my sidewalk?
I moved to Oakley years ago because it was on the books that’s you can park your RV or Boat in your driveway. I specifically sought out a home with side yard access and NOT in a restrictive HOA because of my love for camping and to store my travel trailer on my property.. By not paying storage fees of up to $200.00 a month, I was able to buy a nicer home, with a larger mortgage and property tax payment to go with it. I, like many, many others, have a huge mortgage because of the housing prices, and I believe the City of Oakley should leave the RV/BOAT driveway parking as it is. If people are moving to a City and they have NOT looked into City rules that matter to them, (such as RVs in driveways) we should not be changing the rules to appease those newer to our community that complain. RV friendly people are not going to call the city to complain, so you most likely don’t hear from the hundreds, or thousands of people that are fine with the current policy, only those that have a complaint, and they are complaining about people doing what the city said they could do when they moved here, and park RV’s in their driveway.
Placing a so called “HAMMER DOWN” lien on properties that have second driveways, could also have serious and detrimental side effects or unintended consequences to the real estate resale market and Oakley’s overall desirability and this should also be reconsidered.
First off, you have some of these so called illegal second driveways that have been on properties for decades. Homes have changed hands several times, and the current owners purchased with no notations on appraisals regarding illegal driveways (lenders would call this out, especially on FHA loans of which there are plenty).
Many homes were in the past marketed for the extra parking as a selling point, So now the homeowners will need to come out of pocket potentially thousands of dollars to remove these driveways that were there when they bought, to remove the lien? This will for sure have an effect on the housing market in Oakley, as sellers will now be more reluctant to place homes on the market as they now need every penny of equity to buy a replacement home with such high prices. And if the interest rates drop again, people in currently higher rates will not be allowed to refinance a rate and term ( No cash out) because of the lien, placing them in a less desirable financial position, and potentially lessening the expendable monthly income to spend in our community. The Council/Board should have a meeting with the Delta Association of Realtors to go over all the potential issues the liens may create.
As an alternative,
How about allowing current owner use to park in existing second driveway, unless there are LEGITIMATE CONTINUED COMPLAINTS FROM NEIGHBORS (these complaints should be in writing and publicly available to neighbors and not ANONYMOUS) and placing a “Notice” (Like a CCR) recording on the home for future and subsequent buyers that the driveway was not in City standards/codes, eta and cannot be used for parking and may be subject to fines and removal at homeowners expense if violated? This puts future homeowners on notice via preliminary title reports that they cannot park there, and may face violations and removal if they do. This also puts realtors on notice not to advertise for the extra parking. This surely is a less abrasive approach to our residents in regards to the existing second driveway issue, as it will not effect the current homeowners ability to sell, thus not effecting the current and long term market, and allowing buyers to make an informed decision to purchase or not, or even negotiate the removal with a seller in a transaction.
Another less abrasive alternative, before liening homes, allow for special pricing ($500.00) for special grandfather permits to be approved for a specific allotted time (24 months, for example) for existing cement driveways. This puts money in the city coffers AND may trigger a property tax reassessment for improvements that could potentially bring a little more money from taxpayers to the community for years to come. After the 24 month grace period for grandfather permits, then re-review a CCR type recording for Future and Subsequent buyers before considering a lien.
It seems to me that going forward, the City should consider steps going forward to prevent some of these residential congestion issues ON ALL NEW homes:
The requirement for a three car drive way for a two car garage and a minimum of 10-12 feet side yard to match said 3rd driveway so people CAN park RV/Boats in the back yard, next to the garage. Likewise, if a three car garage, a four car driveway should be required with same side yard access. This allows for several things. RV/Boat to be parked in the side yard behind a fence, and 3 cars to park off street. Figure a Family of 4 or 5, most parents have a car, and as their children become of driving age, cars are added to the household, rather than clogging up the street, that additional off street parking helps remove neighborhood congestion.
HOA’s by large developers?? If the City is going to allow large developers to over develop our once Country Small Town (why we moved here), there should be a requirement for 50% of those new developments to have an HOA to set rules and govern those rules. Eliminating that financial burden from the city monitoring things as extra driveways, and RV/Boat parking. People that want to live in a HOA know they are monitors and the rules are enforced, and those less likely to want to see RV/Boats in driveways might more likely consider moving into an HOA for said conformity. Another example, Those that do not like kids playing ball or riding bikes, skates, skateboards in the street outside their home should consider living in a 55 and older community where that is not allowed. I Point being, if something that is allowed by code or bylaw that upsets you, don’t move into it, but find an alternate location that better fits your lifestyle.
You simply should not allow new residents of the community come in and start complaining and make changes to appease them. You don’t move into a HOA that has rules and expect to break them, and alternate you should not move into a small county town and expect to change it.
Oakley is growing too fast and maybe we should allow a slow down and back to basics and being good neighbors. I mean this letter with no hate intended, and no begrudged feelings, but an honest option and alternative point of view.
Please take these points into consideration, there is NO RUSH to make a change that may cause an uproar or unnecessary costs to the city to implement.
Thank you for your time,
Long time East County Resident, Oakley Resident and local Real Estate industry professional