Mineral County residents living in recreational vehicles outside of established RV parks were informed, in a legal publication within the Independent-News pages, that it violates Mineral County ordinances.
The notice stated that recreational vehicles are designed only for recreational use and not as a primary residence. Officials have provided a conditional use permit for those with special circumstances to use an RV for temporary living. This advertisement, placed by building inspector Mike Fontaine stated that residents living in RV’s were given “30 days to make arrangements or citations may be issued.”
The Independent-News sat down with numerous citizens and county officials to discuss this issue.
Laws Governing RVs
Mark Nixon of the Mineral County Regional Planning Commission explained to the Independent-News that the laws governing residents living RVs has always been illegal within the county.
Within the Mineral County Code, 8.04.030: LOCATION OF TRAILERS, it clearly states, “No trailer shall be used for living or sleeping purposes in any area of Mineral County except as follows: A. During construction of a building or buildings, the owners of the lot or parcel for his own or his employees’ occupancy may apply for a permit to occupy a trailer for the period of construction only, not to exceed six (6) months and renewable once for an additional six (6) month period; B. The legitimate use of a mobile home as a permanent single-family dwelling in those areas designated by Mineral County under the TR [trailer] overlay as set forth by ordinance; C. Legitimate trailer parks as existing or established, conducted, maintained and under licensed under the terms of this chapter; Incidental use to farming, mining, construction, lumbering (or similar sues), for the temporary use of employee only;… F. For recreational purposes, not to exceed thirty (30) days.”
This code, passed in 1965 simply explains that without a special use permit a person may not live on a single lot unless they first apply for a special use permit, which costs $150 for the application, $45 for the advertising of the permit and $1 per mailing for every property owner located within a 300 yard radius of the single lot.
Once you are permitted to live on that lot (for a maximum of only 12 months), that lot must have water and sanitary facilities.
Residents are able to move into trailer parks that are zoned for recreational vehicles. These trailer parks must have toilet facilities for men and women with conditions for every ten dependent trailer spaces; a laundry facility and waste disposal cans. These parks must be kept clean, orderly and sanitary at all times, if a person has a communicable disease, it must be reported and all animals must be kept under control at all times.
Mineral County Regional Planning Commission addressed recreational vehicles in their master plan, Title 17. It states, “No recreational vehicle shall be used for permanent living quarters on any property unless allowed by a conditional use permit other than a recreational vehicle or mobile home parks, as defined in NRS 482.1005.”
Nevada Revised Statute defines a recreational vehicle as a vehicular-type unit primarily designed as temporary living quarters for travel, recreational or camping use, which may be self-propelled, mounted upon, or drawn by, a motor vehicle.
What do these definitions and terms mean for the residents of Mineral County?
Mineral County residents will have 30 days from Jan. 31 to make arrangements with the Mineral County Building Department for a special use application to continue to live on single lots, not in a designated trailer park where RV’s are accepted or they will need to find new housing.
Unfortunately, this may cause problems for residents. The housing shortage in Mineral County has been an issue for quite some time. Those people who can afford to pay first, last and deposits on a home – have no homes to choose from, let alone a person living off disability or paycheck to paycheck.
While researching the use of using recreational vehicles for permanent housing, the Independent-News ran across an article from “Ditching Suburbia”, an online blog for those who wish to live fulltime in recreational vehicles with children.
It explained that the definition of homeless for families who live in a recreational vehicle is defined in the McKinney-Vento Act as, “An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” and “Children living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations.”
Regardless of your thoughts on this law, it is in fact just that. The law – per the United States government and per this blog, “This is a Federal law. It trumps any state or district policies.”
The Independent-News reached out to CAHS here in Hawthorne. An organization who helps out people in their time of need about the house shortage and RV living.
The representative explained that she has had people inquiring about the notice put into the paper who were scared that they may be out of a home.
“We have people coming in for assistance and no where to put them. There is no solution to this problem as here to put these people,” she explained. Not knowing the technical definition of homeless, she did explain that there are people within Mineral County who do are homeless. She cited a case where a person lives in an outbuilding without water and no heat.
Off Grid World explained on their webpage that RVs are perfectly safe for year-round living. “The government (usually local municipalities) is the problem. They want you to build a permanent dwelling; usually a big house on your land. So the local government says it’s illegal to live in an RV permanently. Even on your own land. The federal government says that these are not designed for ‘permanent occupancy’. In addition, local governments don’t want people living in their RVs permanently, and some even cite they are unfit or unsafe for permanent dwellings.”
Citizens Speak Out
Is it the current economics or lack of current affordable housing that has people seeking residence in RVs?
The Independent-News tracked down a few residents in the county who currently live in RVs. The following are their responses:
Displaced before Christmas, Shannon Chidester lives on the street outside of his daughter-in-laws home. He knows the trailer shouldn’t be on the street but the trailer he lives in is his home. He explained, “Don’t start screwing with people’s homes.” Frustrated with the legal notice, he has begun to look at lots where he can live, but is unsure of the cost it will take.
Bill Davis, who works at the newly established Isabella Pearl Mine outside of Luning, explained that he feels people shouldn’t be living in their RVs while they are parked in the street with their slide-outs extended.
The life of “tramping” a term used by miners who go from mine to mine during start-up, often rent single lots where they can be isolated from others due to their long work schedules, often needing the quiet while they work nightshift and sleep during the day.
“The county is going to have a hard time enforcing this,” he stated. “If the mines get pushed – and there are no rentals – the mine will simply transport their people from Fallon.” The loss of revenue would a loss for already struggling Mineral County.
“I see people suing the county. They don’t have to sue for a financial payment – just sue for the county to shut the hell up. This keeps people from coming to Mineral County and investing here instead of us taking our money elsewhere. If the county is looking for ways to generate money, they are going about it all wrong. This is a shot in the foot for Mineral County,” Davis concluded.
Jeremy Abrams, local tow truck driver in Hawthorne, lives behind his shop where his truck is located. Abrams works long and unset hours. He told the Independent-News, “I live in a trailer because Hawthorne is going nowhere fast. The base is a mess and my current employer may end up moving me to another location, therefore I need to remain mobile. It is easier for me to keep a home that I can move on my own from place to place for work rather than renting or buying. Renting usually requires you to sign a lease for x amount of years or months. I can’t guarantee I will be here for that long. I may be or may not.”
“Buying is out of the question as well especially in Hawthorne. Look at how many homes are for sale now. They are not selling. And if or when they do sell you don’t get ear what they are worth. Why should I have to be forced to move to an RV park when I pay property tax on my land? My travel trailer is on blocks with skirting around it and is plumbed into sewer via hard line just like a mobile home. There is no difference besides size. My travel trailer is a 2017 and is nicer looking then some of the mobile homes in town. I don’t think I should have to buy a permit. I have been in a travel trailer for years in several different counties and never had an issue,” Abrams said.
Without transitional housing or affordable rentals, it is unknown what the outcome will be for those residing in RVs within the county.
There are limited spaces available within the trailer parks zoned for recreational vehicles. Lots can be purchased and zoned for temporary use within the county, but with that comes the beginning of building a home on the property and running utilities to said property.
The Independent-News has reached out to Mike Fontaine, Mineral County Building Inspector who asks that residents come into his office on Fifth Street or call him at 775-945-3671 to discuss this issue. Residents can also attend county commissioner meetings and voice their comments and questions.