OOIDA members fight for truck parking standards in Littlerock, CA

| 4/1/2009

OOIDA members in the rural high desert community of Littlerock, CA, are fed up with LA County code enforcement officers who are citing truckers for parking their rigs on their own property.

At an emergency meeting of the Littlerock Town Council on Monday, March 30, council members showed their support for the community’s truckers. The council voted unanimously to add the truck parking issue as an agenda item to address at their next council meeting on Thursday, April 9.

Tom Fidger, who is an OOIDA member and member of the Littlerock Town Council, said the council plans to have a series of three meetings to revise the truck parking “Community Standards.” 

Truckers there have also formed their own ad hoc organization to fight the truck parking ban and have asked for a moratorium on enforcement efforts while the council works on developing new Community Standards to address truck parking concerns in the Southeast Antelope Valley.

However, LA County’s John Calas, who is the deputy director of the Land Use Regulation Division, said they “have no plans to cease our current enforcement activity.”

Fidger said he has seen stepped-up enforcement for more than a year now. He has been parking his rig on his property for more than 20 years. In February, Fidger received a citation letter from the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning for parking his commercial vehicle at his residence.

“Truckers here live in fear of receiving one of these code enforcement letters in the mail because they don’t know what else to do with their trucks,” Fidger said.

Calas suggests truckers “park in the thousands of industrially zoned properties in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.” However, Fidger said truckers can’t afford to park them in these industrial zones because they fear what will happen to them if they do.

“I honestly don’t think these code enforcement officers understand parking a $130,000 piece of equipment in one of these industrial areas just isn’t reasonable for a lot of truckers,” he said. “It’s like inviting thieves to come and shop. When stuff goes missing, who’s going to pay? It isn’t going to be Los Angeles County; it’s going to be the truckers that pay.”

While LA County zoning code doesn’t specifically say you can’t have a commercial vehicle parked on your property, it also doesn’t say you can either. It is up to code enforcement officers to “interpret” which home businesses are allowed or not allowed to park using the wording that “every home-based occupation shall be subject to the limitations and standards cited in the agricultural zoning code in Section 22.24.020.

OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz, who met with truckers in the Antelope Valley in December 2008, said the county is using selective enforcement when deciding which businesses are in compliance and which ones are not.”

“The code is silent on the issue so how can truckers be cited for something that isn’t in the code,” he told Land Line.

Calas argues that the parking of commercial vehicles isn’t allowed because it isn’t a compatible residential use; however, he admits the county doesn’t have an official “land use definition” of a residential use.

Instead, Calas said the county’s decisions on code enforcement compliance are based on “established procedures, protocols and general plan policy (varying depending on the decision).”

“We can clearly see that the parking/keeping/storage of commercial trucks, i.e. big rigs, etc., within a residential and/or agricultural community will disrupt and adversely affect the character of a residential neighborhood and quality of life,” Calas wrote in an e-mail to Land Line recently.

Some truckers, like Fidger and another OOIDA member Bill Benton, have even had their neighbors sign variance letters stating they are fine with allowing them to park their commercial vehicles on their residences. Fidger, Benton and others have submitted their variance letters to County officials for review.

Calas said he doesn’t support truckers asking their neighbors to sign variance letters, which he said is used as a “bullying technique.”

“In my opinion these letters just aren’t a good idea,” he said. “Their neighbors may be too scared to say no for fear of retribution so they sign them even if they don’t really support them parking their commercial vehicles.”

Fidger said at a time when the state of California is hurting for money, state and county officials should be doing all they can to keep its taxpayers happy, not punishing those who drive a truck for a living.

“We pay taxes just like everyone else, and at a time when everyone is financially struggling, they should be doing all they can to help us, not run us out of business because we drive what they consider ‘big ugly trucks,’ ” he said.

The next town council meeting is slated for Thursday, April 9. Fidger and council members are asking truckers and residents alike for their input in developing “workable” community standards that will benefit the truckers and the community of Littlerock.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer