Port Holds Meeting on Oversized Vehicles Parking on Shelter Island

by on February 6, 2023 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

From Peninsula News of PLA

On Wednesday, Feb #1, the Port of San Diego held a meeting to discuss the proliferation of oversized vehicles hanging around Shelter Island.

Apparently, advance notice of the meeting was whispered to residents by Harbor Police and posted on NextDoor (no verification in our neighborhood).

The meeting was also advertised with flyers posted on all the van lifer’s vehicles sheltering at Shelter Island Shoreline Park.

A special invitation to out-of-area guests? Seems so. “Do you own an oversized…?”

A couple weeks ago, PLA member and community activist Mick Gammon alerted PLA to the meeting, and we posted notice in our January 19th newsletter.

Mick said Wednesday’s gathering lasted about 2 hours, and 40-50 people attended – a few Point Loma residents, several emissaries from Shelter Island businesses and a dozen or so people who live in vehicles in the park.

Mick reports that some Port staff attended, but none of the Commissioners. An outside “parking consultant” conducted the discussion. He says she was knowledgeable and explained the process ahead for addressing the issue.

Deciding who can park and for how long will (of course) need Coastal Commission approval, and any change from the status quo could take years.

Mick: “The business owners were all in agreement that something had to be done about the problems and negative impacts created by overnight camping and literal occupation of  parts of the island. They were all concerned about the lack of enforcement and how things were getting worse. They were very specific about the problems such as needles, urine bottles and the safety of their employees.”

Mick says the vehicle inhabitants complained about being cited, felt they were doing nothing wrong and that – according to California law, based on an appellate court decision – they had a right to live in their vehicles.

“They also pointed out that it was too far to drive to a designated parking lot for people living in their vehicles. There was the inconvenience and of course, the cost of gas. One outspoken lady, at first showed us all her citations, then said she always left at night and was being picked on because she had an RV. The same lady, after being asked by the consultant what kind of citations she received, she answered “parking overnight”.

And so it goes.

On a positive note, during Wednesday’s meeting, people did suggest solutions. Here’s some of the proposals.

Excessive Oversized Vehicle Parking at Shelter Island Suggested Remedies

Reported by Mick Gammon

I suggested enforcing the rules and writing citations that had consequences; possibly gating the parking lots at a designated time; installing pay for parking, something I am reluctant about.

Other people suggested residential parking permits, restricting parking to 4 hours, having day permits not to exceed X number of days.

Any of these suggestions will likely require Coastal Commission approval, and the consultant acknowledged that. The Coastal Commission is all about access.

Access is a tricky question. By providing access to these campers, on the one hand, we might be denying access to residents and day

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Kennedy February 6, 2023 at 5:41 pm

Something which struck me was the lady who was complaining that it was too far to drive to “a designated parking lot for people living in their vehicles”. Two points: First, she is saying that there is already a designated parking area so why is this an issue to begin with, and second, does she have a job or something that requires her to drive to Shelter Island on an apparently frequent basis so that the designated parking area is a problem for her?

/s/ Chris Kennedy


Chris Kennedy February 6, 2023 at 5:46 pm

One quick clarification—apparently it was a number of the overnight parkers and not just the aforementioned lady who was complaining it was too far to drive to the designated parking lot for people living in their vehicles. Otherwise, I think my two points still apply to this group.

/s/ CK


frankf February 9, 2023 at 6:39 am

I walk Shelter Island two times a week before dawn. Parking in the off-street parking lots is prohibited overnight, except for people using the pier. So at 5 AM there is typically a parade of broke down, out of state RVs who migrate onto the island and spend the entire day parked. I’ve even seen them dump their sewer into the storm drain.

So many of these rigs are regulars that the Port’s landscape crew can’t even mow the lawn under the backed-in motorhomes, thus you’ll see wild patches of overgrown grass.

One way to limit this squatting is a time limit for parking on Shelter Island, but then you’ll have conflict with employees of local businesses and guests of the local hotels.

Whatever solution can be found it’s got to limit the ability of folks in large motorhomes to squat for weeks on end and dump sewer into the bay.


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