On Tuesday, in the midst of a standing room only crowd, the Oakley City Council softened their stance regarding the use of ADA ramps and non-compliant driveways for RV, boat, and other vehicles parking and storage.
Prior to discussion, councilmember Doug Hardcastle recused himself from the discussion as it may be perceived as a conflict of interest because he does own a RV/storage facility. Hardcastle did not participle or provide any direction in the discussion.
This item was a carry over item from the March meeting after the council provided direction to staff to work out details on compliance and penalties of residents. Based on outcry from residents, the Council opted to have a work session to allow the community feedback—this became a topic because the City is undergoing its “ADA Transition Plan” required by the Federal Government.
What brought people to the meeting was comments made by the Council at the March 13 meeting where council had a 90-minute discussion which resulted in the following:
- Increase tools to allow staff to place liens on people’s homes who illegally create second driveways and choose not to fix it—preventing residents from refinancing or selling their home until its fixed.
- Amend the municipal code to begin a fine process for illegally parking on second-driveways. It will be updated to say people may park in approved driveways (main driveway).
- Limit recreational parking of boats, RV’s trailers to only 1-per household.
- Vehicles parked that create a blind intersection or “sight triangle violation” may be towed.
- Oakley council encouraged staff to create an educational campaign to make residents aware of what is legal and what is not.
Mayor Randy Pope started public comments by stating that he was glad so many people showed.
“It’s a shame we have to have a controversial item on the agenda to get everybody here,” said Pope. “But I love to see the place full and I look forward to hearing from all of you.”
City Manager Bryan Montgomery called it a “great honor” to represent many city employees who work on this issue calling the enforcement from the time Oakley was with the county to now a city has been lax and so they had to get direction.
“We need some direction, what are the rules because its very ambiguous right now,” said Montgomery while also highlighted how most neighborhoods in Oakley do not allow for boats and RV’s in front of homes
“We have these two into two sides of the issue. Folks coming in and complaining about these. Some folks come in and say, I want one of those, and we tell them they’re not allowed, and they say, what do you mean they’re not allowed in? My neighbor has one, I want one just like he’s got,” explained Montgomery. “So, we as staff would like to get this clarified so we know what to tell people.”
Montgomery also clarified statements made against Councilmember Doug Hardcastle, who recused himself that he in no way has made any indication of what should be done with this issue and wanted that on record.
“I just think it’s important to know that and I want that on the public record. That is the truth. He’s not a part of this discussion,” said Montgomery. “That misconception I think is unfortunate and I’ll just tell you, it is not true. He is in no way influenced this discussion.”
Montgomery explained that the issue has come down to people asking for permission versus forgiveness. He asked the council for direction because staff needs to know whether or not to tell residents to rip out that $20,000 concrete they just poured in.
“We’re in this dilemma, do we enforce it?” said Montgomery. “We can we draw the line in the sand?”
Montgomery explained there really is no grandfathered in because it was never allowed but admitted both the County and Oakley was lax on the enforcement but now they have to lay out the issue and make some decisions.
David Schreiber, a resident since 1986, stated he has had his second driveway for 25-years and never had a complaint while it keeps his truck off the street. He explained how standards 25-years ago were different than they are today. He also highlighted how the permit process should be better than $700.
“25-years ago there were standards, and I’m sure that standard does not met new housing, but you don’t tell somebody that they have to tear out their foundation because it doesn’t meet the standard of the new buildings,” explained Schriber. “So why are we talking about here, about having to redo driveways, turn them out, put in this, put it in that when it was perfectly okay… I haven’t got that kind of money to be tearing it up.”
Paul Berg explained that in 2000 he moved to Oakley because of the Delta so he can have his RV and his boat next to his house which the property was clean and maintained better than just dirt.
Larry Briandes (spelling) wanted to speak about RV’s and Motorhomes saying the two most common issues given for people that don’t want them are opinions of lowered property values but there are no facts to back it up.
“That’s just an opinion. Not everybody holds it… but you can’t legislate appearance,” said Briandes. “There’s nothing wrong with a legal vehicle parked in the driveway. Rvs should not be singled out in any way. They’re just another legal vehicle if you’re going to not allow parking driveways and you don’t allow parking and driveways, rvs or otherwise, it’s really just people who don’t like the way you’re doing something on change the way you’re doing something and control your behavior for simple appearance.”
“We inquired with the city and it was not needed for hardscape at that time. We did want to install a driveway apron that you’re referring to, but that was not allowed. We paid thousands of dollars for concrete and fencing to have a nice driveway. Leading to the side road where our boat is parked, hidden from you, removing it should not be considered as it was allowed at the time of installation,” explained Hurney. “If an RV was on the garage side, then we would have simply extended the main driveway like the city is considering. Okay. But that was not how the plan was drawn up. And the City of Oakley approved the plan for the RV access to beyond the opposite side of the garage. So that is where we installed it, removing it would affect resell value, anesthetic looks of the curb appeal to the home currently and it asks you to please consider the repercussions of the decisions you were proposing.”
Starla Wise explained that second driveways because the need goes above and beyond RV and boat storage, but it keeps vehicles of the street.
“I have neighbors who have driving age children and they have two car garages,” said Wise. “They got four or five cars parked in the driveway, with an expanded driveway or a second driveway. They’re able to disperse their cars, implementing or enforcing bans on driveway. Improvements as discussed in the march meeting would cause my neighbors to start parking on the streets where there is already limited parking or forcing them to stack their cars four or five cars in a two-car driveway.”
She continued by explaining Oakley has a motto, a place for families and the heart of the Delta, where it’s a vibrant Delta community for families to live, work and play.
“We are within seven miles of three boat launching ramps and for Marina’s. This is a boating community,” said Wise. “In the March 13th meeting, a councilman argued that the community is growing and people are coming from areas that don’t allow boats or like to see them. If these people did any research on this city, they should know this might not be the place for them to be.”
She continued by saying there are HOA neighborhoods for people who don’t want to live in neighborhoods that allow boats and RV’s and suggested the council have those discussions for future developments.
Deborah Cooley stated she was angry about the discussion because she has had a second driveway since 1989 because they didn’t want their boat parked in their driveway and behind a fence would look nicer.
“If I’m responsible for my sidewalk, how am I not responsible for the curb? We have driven over that curb with boats, 10 wheelers to deliver rock and firewood. We have never once damaged to curve. The school bus used to pull up and let the lift, the wheelchair lift out on my second driveway to pick up my severely disabled daughter for school in the morning because there was no parking in the court and sometimes that’s the only place they can pull up and let the wheelchair lift there,” explained Cooley. “I’m angry because you’re telling me I can’t have my second driveway anymore. Then I’m going to have to hire somebody to tear it out. I don’t have that kind of money… what I’ve had to look forward to is that in three years my house will be paid for what I thought was going to be free and clear, but if I don’t remove my second driveway, you’re going to put a lien on my house. Shame on you.”
“Part of the whole reason that we chose to purchase a home in Oakley was because of the Delta family lifestyle of boating,” said White. “The RV’s, you know, work hard, play hard, and we purchased a home that was advertised as having side yard access. Now I don’t know if permits were taken for that or if there was any type of legal issues with obtaining that, um, second driveway. But that was prior to me purchasing the house. Like I said, I purchased the House with it being disclosed as having side yard access and a secondary driveway. So I mean this creates great concern for me and my husband as well, not only for the potential of losing our side yard, but also the financial implications of now having a lien placed on our home to have that removed. Again, something that we had no idea was even an issue until seeing this matter come up for you guys. I do understand that there are issues with the sight with safety and all of that, but I just hope that you guys would take care to protect people in our situation and also to preserve the lifestyle and the community that has taken this long to build and to not diminish in any way.”
Randy Love, who purchased his home 10-years ago, stated the reason he bought his house was not for the size of the family room or other rooms in the house, but for the side yard for RV parking.
Richard Brophy stated he paid extra for his home because he had an RV access on the side while adding that one thing that has not been addressed is where people would then place their RV’s or boats.
“One collateral issue that hasn’t been addressed is where you can put them?” asked Brophy. “I did some research. Every RV storage facility around here is completely full.”
Brophy added that Oakley residents pay some of the highest taxes in the county and his was near $10,000 and that by moving RV’s and Boats to offsite storage facilities, they lay pray to transients and unemployed who would take advantage of those just sitting in storage.
“This is going to be an unconscionable burden, not only on the taxpayer, your constituents, but it’s going to be a burden on law enforcement because they’re going to have to go out to these very same facilities and take reports and things like that when they can be protecting us,” explained Brophy. “When I was here last, when we defeated that acorn use storage facility, Mr. Pope you as a dissenting vote said, who are we to tell someone what they can do with their property? I sincerely hope you meant that.”
Brophy suggested there be a compassionate way to resolve this by grandfathering people who already have their vehicles parked.
Matthew Feria stated he paid $30,000 more for his home for a place to park his motor home—he has since had five.
“I think that this is something that is very important to the community that we come to some kind of solution to how to deal with this because like others said, we came here to enjoy the community and the delta and a place for our motor home or trailer is so important to us and I think the city council should consider the needs of our community,” said Feria.
Mike Bell said he has lived in Oakley since 2009 and spent 6-months looking for the house he wanted and paid $20,000 more for RV parking. He explained if it wasn’t permitted when he took his loan, it was supposed to be taken out and who would pay to have it taken out?
“I lived in the homeowner’s association. I had my stuff parked somewhere else. I also bought a house in Discovery Bay over by that Safeway side with no homeowner’s association and we had our trailers there and boats there, so I don’t see why we can’t do that here,” said Bell. “You got the older homes, they have them and people are already doing it and you want to change it for the new people coming in that don’t want it. You have the new homes coming in, then you don’t allow it. That’s all I got to say.
Roger Mammon explained he had lived in Oakley since 1983 when only 800 people lived in the community and that people in the country have RV’s and Boats which is why people move here.
“We have new residents that are moving in and they’re complaining because our residents that are here have boats and RV’s on in their driveways than they really should move someplace else. Not Complain,” said Mammon. “All they do is make themselves miserable and everybody else. I have read some comments that were in publications indicating that there could be liens placed on properties without permitted a accesses. And I’ve found that to be a disgusting. You’re supposed to represent the members of your community too. They’re all taxpayers and to put liens on their houses. Just wrong.”
Bryan Montgomery explained how he doesn’t read social media anymore because it gets out of control.
“I personally just don’t read it anymore because it’s difficult,” said Montgomery. “The council didn’t take any firm posture or stance, this discussion, for example, about a lien. I’ll just explain that the correct term is a notice of code violation.”
Montgomery explained that if someone put in an awning in their backyard, they would not make them rip it out, but simply putting a record on the property that they were not compliant and would make the new buyer of a home aware.
“It’s only a heads up. One could use the word lien, but it’s not,” explained Montgomery. “It’s a proper professional and appropriate advisement to the new buyer that there’s a problem there, so what the council discussed in March wasn’t putting a lien on your property to extract money and anything like that. It was just one option to basically say grandfather what was there, allow you to have it, but the new owner ought to know that there was never an encroachment permit granted that you at least be advised in good conscience that this new owner is buying something that may not be permitted down the road”
Montgomery then suggested they find another word than “grandfather” because the term is not right because nothing was ever permitted in the first place, but allow it to continue.
“We’ve taken a lot of notes and so based on the comments you give us, we’d be happy to come together and bring something more concrete,” said Montgomery. “I do want to apologize because I understand this was also a concern expressed on social media that you didn’t know exactly what the city council was proposing, so it’s frustrating. Like what are you going to do? Some of you mentioned there’s a firm posture lien. There has been no decision made.”
Montgomery also stated it would have been inappropriate to have a decision made without hearing from the community first.
“Let us massage, find the compromises, the suggestions that we can bring back,” said Montgomery. “We’ll put them online, we’ll get the input from the council will take it slow and you’ll be able to see what’s being recommended and thumbs up and thumbs down.”
Mayor Pope stated he wanted to address the topic of liens because he said he was the one that brought it up.
“I’m really upset with whoever miss-characterized what I said I, I said those words. I said the word lien, but whoever reported that, I said those didn’t talk about the context in which I said it,” said Pope who explained he asked if it was a practice the city could use.
“If you’re in continuous operation like you own a business and we changed the zoning for residential, we’re not going to force you to tear down your business and move so we can build houses there,” said Pope. “Its grandfather is a preexisting use. That was legal at the time it started, and I was advised by counsel that no, it doesn’t apply in this situation. So we’re asking about what other ways can we not have to force the owner to tear out tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of improvements.”
Pope explained that he wanted to preserve private property owner’s rights, but that a lien or code violation recorded on the property would impact the next owner by having them bring it up to code—meaning current owners can continue to use the property as is but rather the new owners would have notice they need to bring it up to code.
Councilman Kevin Romick said no one has ever advocated to outlaw RV’s and boats in the City of Oakley from the dais, but some have advocating on putting a limit on how many people could have in their driveways.
“I would ask staff to put something together that works on some sort of compromise, some way of allowing the existing uses to continue but strongly curtail new uses from being applied,” said Romick. “I think there’s some compromise if we can reach in there.
Romick further explained that the City has to look at ways of creating ordinances, rules and laws that accommodated everyone in a fair way.
“Hopefully we will be able to develop something that will be able to appease the majority of people living out their understanding that we’re trying to do,” said Romick who noted the city was looking to find compromise for existing uses to continue but protect the community from future lawsuits. “There are advocates out there, in any number of vocations out there. I’m looking for ways to sue cities. There’s a new one going out there. There’s going from city to city to city saying, we’re going to allow at-large elections were going to force you into districts.”
Romick asked staff again to find a compromise to take what is existing and draw a line in the sand after a future date.
“Anybody who goes ahead and decides to come to the city and we tell them they can’t do it and they decided to go home and ignore us, that there should be some punishment involved in it,” said Romick.
Councilwoman Claire Alaura who stated in March she wanted to ban RV’s and boats on driveways backtracked saying she glad people are communicating on this issue and will continue to listen going forward. She agreed to staff finding a solution in a compromise.
She did, however, state they needed to address the safety issues and sight triangles saying people can’t park it there.
“That’s a safety issue for everybody regardless of whether you own an RV or not,” said Alaura. “For it’s for kids riding bikes is for people in wheelchairs. It’s for moms with strollers, kids walking dogs. That’s just a safety issue that cannot be compromised”
She also added she is now open to allowing RV’s and boats on properties, but doesn’t know her number yet she would like to see.
“I don’t believe everybody has access to his side yard or to the backyard. but we’ll have to work and see what that number is. But I know it’s important, not everybody can afford fees at a storage unit, not everybody wants to put their RV or boat away in a storage unit. They’d rather have it close to home and easy to access. So allowing them in the front yard, I believe is, is fine. Um, however, again, we’d have to have rules around that. Whether or not these RV’s are extra-large, extend beyond the driveway. Those things need to be considered in and drawn out in detail,” said Alaura.
Councilwoman Sue Higgins offered a “ditto” to the conversation and nothing more.
Mayor Pope stated that the only item he was not willing to compromise in was the sight triangle for safety reasons but everything else he was open to compromise and finding a solution.
“I think you should be able to enjoy your property as long as you’re not interfering with your neighbors, right? To enjoy their property. So, if you’re a good neighbor, that’s all we’re really asking you to do,” said Pope.
Pope also said the City should not be changing the rules on existing neighborhoods and residents but they should focus these changes on new neighborhoods and new residents coming in.
Montgomery said he thought an option we need to explore in their plan was that they have had some uses going on for quite some time and enforcement has been pretty lax, so it’s very difficult for them to go back so their plan would explain that, but in the future we would not allow them as a such and such a date.
Montgomery proposed bringing this back on June 26th to come back with more of a concrete idea.