EUNICE — Backyard RV rental spaces are on the way out of Eunice.
The city council on Monday repealed a 13-year-old “Temporary Emergency Housing Act,” giving residents six months to return to building code compliance.
In May 2008, while the City of Eunice was busting at the seams with new people coming in to build additions to the URENCO plant and support the flourishing oilfield, the city council approved an ordinance allowing campers, trailers and recreational vehicles to be permitted for residences.
No termination date for the “temporary emergency” was specified in the ordinance.
Thirteen years and multiple housing improvements later, the lack of an expiration date played havoc with code enforcement and city beautification, according to code compliance officer Sarah Porras who asked the council to repeal that section of the city’s ordinances.
After Monday’s regular meeting of the council and the required second reading of the repeal ordinance, Porras appeared relieved.
“I think it’s going to allow the public to not spend unnecessary money trying to get these special use applications and they’re denied,” Porras said. “I think it’s going to be easier to get them disconnected off their back yard.”
City Manager Jordan Yutzy, responding to concerns Councilor Gonzalo R. Luna expressed during the first reading of the ordinance, said the city will impose a delay in compliance enforcement.
“We will not enforce it for six months. We will start the education telling people they have a timeline that this (back yard) is no longer a valid place to put an RV,” Yutzy said. “As of Nov. 1, we will start issuing citations.”
Asked whether he and Porras expect issues with compliance, Yutzy said there likely will be no big problems under the current situation while the city’s 26 established RV parks have vacancies. He warned against a long wait, however, since the oilfield could pick up and create new housing issues.
“Right now, there are plenty of places in town for them to go,” Yutzy said.
Councilor Terry Bettis sought to clarify the residents’ right to park their own RVs in their back yards.
“If it’s their personal RV, they can have it,” Yutzy said. “They cannot have it hooked up to city sewer, but they can have it hooked up to water and electricity. That’s fine. What this says is you can no longer turn your back yard into an RV park for rentals. You cannot have sewer because the sewer does not meet what’s required by the building code.”
After the meeting, Yutzy told the News-Sun, “What we are stopping is people who own property or houses and they are turning their back yard into little bitty RV parks to bring in extra income. I applaud them for that, but they’re hard to regulate. They’re bringing down property values in town and once they’re there, they’re very hard to get rid of.”
The city manager continued, “When Sarah (Porras) started (as code enforcement officer), one of the big pushes from the planning and zoning board was to get these RV parks into compliance. Well, nobody realized we had 26 true RV parks in town and another 30 mini-RV parks in people’s back yards.”
Most of the back yard “mini-parks” lacked proper electric, water and sewer hookups, Yutzy said, “So it was creating an environmental hazard in town.”
He emphasized the average homeowner who has a personal RV is unaffected by the repealing of the temporary emergency housing act.
“Those aren’t the people we’re going after. The people we’re going after are those who collect rent from the RV parked in their back yard,” Yutzy concluded.
The vote to repeal the old ordinance was unanimous except for Councilor Chris Meyers who abstained. Meyers owns an established RV park in the city.
Curtis Wynne may be contacted at hobbsnews.com.