The California county that includes Silicon Valley has rezoned campgrounds and RV parks as “legal non-conforming” in a move that will make it harder for private parks to expand or make other improvements.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the zoning change, which becomes law on June 25, despite opposition from the CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance (CampCalNOW) and representatives from other RV and campground industry associations, including the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the RV Industry Association (RVIA), as well as the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise networks.
“All we are asking is that you consider other alternatives to zoning restrictions, such as length of stay limitations, that allow these small businesses to be able to continue doing business,” CampCalNOW President and CEO Dyana Kelley wrote in a letter to county supervisors. “If RV parks and campgrounds in Santa Clara County are rezoned as legal non-conforming, they will have limited ability to renovate, remodel or otherwise improve their businesses, effectively closing the door on their future.”
Kelley drafted the letter in collaboration with David Basler, vice president of membership and marketing for ARVC. The letter also noted that tourism is a $12 billion industry in California, citing statistics from RVIA’s “RVs Move America Economic Impact Study” in 2019.
Kelley’s May 20 letter was co-signed by ARVC President Paul Bambei; Craig A. Kirby, president and CEO of the RV Industry Association (RVIA); Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA); David W. Tenney, president of the California RV Dealers Association (CalRVDA); Toby O’Rourke, president and CEO of Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA); and Rob Schutter, Jr., president and chief operating officer of Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts.
Private park industry opposition wasn’t enough to persuade Santa Clara County supervisors, or public opinion, which weighed heavily on the county’s decision. The board of supervisors moved forward rezoning RV parks and campgrounds on May 25 without discussion. Kelley said she requested that the matter be brought to county supervisors for a second vote, as is customary, and her request was denied.
Thousand Trails appealed the county’s decision, but county planning commissions rejected the appeal on May 27, according to a report on MorganHillLife.com. As a result, the zoning change will become effective on June 25.
Kelley warned that Santa Clara County’s decision to rezone campgrounds and RV parks could prompt other counties to take similar actions that limit RV park expansions and improvements, despite rising demand for RV sites in California and across the country.
Some cities and counties around the country have recently made changes to their zoning ordinances that negatively affect campground and RV park operations, including Waynesville, N.C., whose planning board voted unanimously last September to ban any new campground or RV developments within town limits.
The Board of Supervisors in Saunders County, Neb., approved a zoning change last October that prohibits RV parks in the county’s agricultural district.