Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece on the proposed Transient Occupancy Tax for a campground in Red Bluff which goes to a public referendum on Election Day was written by Don Polson and was published in the Red Bluff Daily News. Polson has called Red Bluff, Calif., home since 1988. He is a past president of the Tehama County Association of Realtors, licensed since 1994. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

I have to weigh in against Measure A, which imposes a “Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT)” on, effectively, one Red Bluff business, the Durango RV Resort on Lake Avenue adjacent to the freeway and south of the Sacramento River.

I don’t have a vote, being a county resident; however, it is a ballot issue that affects the greater Red Bluff economy in ways that those who put it up for a vote may not have considered.

There are RV parks within the city as well as others in unincorporated areas; I’m informed that the TOT is paid by a couple of Red Bluff RV parks but not by any other parks outside of town limits.

Those various parks range in quality (generally very good but not always), prices (I haven’t done a survey but Durango may trend higher due to facility improvements), location (proximity to the freeway, restaurants and shopping) and appeal (monthly residents can be a turnoff for higher end travelers and their hundred thousand-plus dollars worth of RVs).

I also have no way to ascertain whether the lack of a TOT in the pricing for Durango spaces has had any affect on competitors’ reservations or nightly drop-ins.

We are too cheap to pay for a space when we can sleep overnight in a WalMart or other parking lot on our way to forest, lakeside or mountain campgrounds.

However, as Good Sam members we receive their monthly magazine, “Highways,” and can assure you that the RVing community is adamantly opposed to TOTs or any other taxes targeting RV parks.

Letters are published informing their readers about where they can go to avoid such fees and taxes; their reporters and researchers are keen to keep readers apprised of the worst offenders of travelers’ wallets.

Since all motels and hotels reside in the city, there is a leveling effect of TOTs in their case.

However, if you haven’t noticed Durango’s well-filled park, it’s worth considering the arguments involved relating to the tax and it’s implications.

In the first place, Durango Resort is not in a head-tohead competition with O’nite or Rivers Edge, for instance, due to their size and clientele, nor, as nice as it is, with the Red Bluff RV Park off of Antelope Blvd, due to Durango’s facilities.

Durango is, however, in competition with RV parks like the one in Redding next to I-5 at Lake Blvd (campers pay a TOT).

I think we should consider that having a high-end RV Park with a pricing advantage versus other parks, sought out by well-heeled travelers, to be a major economic feather in our “Branding” cap, if you will.

The word gets out and Red Bluff benefits when those travelers buy groceries, supplies, restaurant meals, attend an event or movie, or explore parks and trails.

Why not let them keep a few (around five, actually) dollars per night, encourage them to discover some of the things that make us unique in all of Northern California, maybe chose among our modestly priced real estate listings to make into a “home base.”

They might return that money many times over to merchants due to the good will they perceive by not being gouged just for occupying a space in an RV park.

Vote “No” on Measure A.