It depends. Most larger cities have laws on the books that would make it illegal for people to park their RV, or camp in their RV, along streets, driveways, and even private property. Boondockers Welcome may be illegal in many cases. But while these laws do exist, enforcement is a different matter.
Is Boondockers Welcome Illegal?
Boondockers Welcome is an online marketplace where homeowners can rent out their driveways or backyards to RVers, usually for overnight, but sometimes for several nights.
The marketplace has grown in popularity due to the shortage of safe, cheap, and relatively quiet, overnight RV spaces. Boondockers Welcome, however, does not ensure that the spaces for rent it has listed are actually legal. It instead requires the homeowner to self-certify that he or she has checked this out themselves.
If it turns out that the homeowner didn’t do his or her due diligence in ensuring that you will be legally parked and camped, law enforcement will cite YOU, not the homeowner, for violating city or county code. Therefore, it behooves you to do your own research into the city or county you plan to park and sleep overnight in.
Laws Against Parking Large Vehicles in Residential Areas
Most cities have laws on the books that prohibit large vehicles from parking along residential streets for more than 24 hours. This includes RVs. For example, the City of Denver, under Sec.54-464, “Large Vehicle Parking”, goes on to say…
It shall be unlawful for any person to park or allow to be parked:
(2) A truck containing an attached camper with a combined overall length exceeding twenty-two (22) feet, a recreation vehicle exceeding twenty-two (22) feet in length, or an automobile trailer and/or boat trailer attached to a licensed vehicle, for a period of time longer than twenty-four (24) hours during any given week on a public right-of-way adjacent to any property which has been designated as a residential zone district or which contains a single-unit or multiple-unit dwelling; except where such vehicles are engaged in rendering services in the immediate area, or where such vehicles are parked adjacent to a zone lot on which is located a motel or hotel being used by the operator of such vehicle.
Some Cities Do Not Allow RV Parking in Driveways
Many cities don’t want the sight of large recreational vehicles parked in driveways and residential streets, and instead require that they be parked behind the house, or in a garage. This can kill Boondockers Welcome entirely. For example, the City of Tempe, AZ, under ZDC 4-602.B, “Parking Standards Applicable in All Zoning Districts”…
7. Recreational vehicles and unmounted truck campers, exceeding twenty-one (21) feet in length and all boats and trailers shall not be parked in the required front yard building setback or required street side yard setback.
Violation of Zoning Laws
Many cities and counties will permit homeowners to park RVs on their property, but only if the RV is owned (or leased) by the homeowner. That is, the zoning laws for residential areas usually do not allow homeowners to use their land to conduct business, such as Boondockers Welcome. For example the City of Norwalk, CA, under 10.08.120, “Parking and storage of vehicles on private property”…
The following regulations shall be applicable to vehicles parked, stored or maintained in an R-1, R-2, R-3, R-H, or C and O Zone, or on any other property utilized for residential purposes:
C. Automobiles, buses, motor homes, motor trucks, vans, campers/camper shells, camp trailers, boats and similar recreation vehicles or equipment on trailers, utility trailers and tent trailers may be parked in a required rear yard or on any other portion of a property, if such portion is not otherwise regulated by this Section 10.08.120; provided that:
1. The equipment or vehicles are owned or leased by residents of the premises;
Some Cities Require RV Permits
Cities that are primarily suburban in nature will prohibit any RV from parking overnight along city streets during late night hours. These hours often range from 12:00AM to 6:00AM, or something similar to that. However, the city will allow an RV to park along a street if the owner of that RV has obtained an, “RV Permit”.
Each RV Permit, or RV Guest Permit, will require the license plate number, make and model, the owner’s name, address, and phone number. Thus, if a homeowner wants to sell their street & curb-side on Boondockers Welcome, they will have to visit City Hall and obtain a permit for each specific guest they sell to.
For example, the City of Gardena, CA, under Chapter 10.60, “Regulation of the Parking of Recreational Vehicles”…
10.60.030 Parking prohibited – Exceptions.
A. It is unlawful for a person to park or leave standing any recreational vehicle on any public street, park, square, avenue, alley or public way in the city between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
B. Exceptions. The prohibitions of this section do not apply to:
1. Recreational vehicles for which a RV permit has been issued and such permit is displayed and is valid;
2. Recreational vehicles for which a RV guest permit has been issued and such permit is displayed and is valid;
Sleeping in an RV is Illegal in Many Cities
Many cities are now banning people from sleeping in RVs as a way to get rid of so many homeless people living in their RVs on city streets. This may also include residential properties and privately-owned lots. For example, the City of Hillsboro, OR, under 6.12.040 “Recreational vehicles and trailers”…
A. No person may:
2. Live, sleep or reside in a recreational vehicle or trailer located on a lot or on a public street unless the street or lot is designated for overnight camping;
Parking Curb-Side is Already Free in Many Cases
Many homeowners who list space on Boondockers Welcome often list the street & curb-side in front of their house. This is technically illegal, since that space belongs to the city or county. You could actually park your RV there without paying the homeowner, and the homeowner can’t do anything about it. You will, however, have to check the laws in that city to make sure that parking (and sleeping in) an RV is legal.