Walmart is planning a 71,000 square foot expansion to a "Super Store" in
Rapid City, SD. The City Council has tabled the zoning issue until
Sept. 5, but indicates that approval is contingent upon Walmart banning
all RV overnight parking. Just thought all you folks heading for Mt.
Rushmore and the Black Hills, at least next year, will likely have to
make other arrangements for camping, proving once again I suppose that
there's no such thng as a free lunch -- or campsite.
"One of the stipulations: Wal-Mart must put up a no-camping sign in its
parking lot and make sure no recreational vehicles park overnight. Walmart
and RV owners have had a tacit understand that they can pull into Wal-Marts
on their travels and stay overnight for free.
"http://www.ci.rapid-city.sd.us/citygovt/citygovt.htm is the place to go to send a letter regarding the Wal-Mart closing its lots to RVs.
Here is a fine example of a letter that was posted in the newsgroups after it was sent:
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 13:21:04 -0700
Dear Mayor Shaw,
As an avid RV'r and frequent traveler throughout the West, I am
concerned with an initiative to ban overnight RV Parking at the Rapid
Wal-Mart is and has been recognized for years as being affable to the
parking of RV's overnight at their stores throughout the United States.
I, personally, endorse the policy of Wal-Mart to allow such parking. On
occasion when traveling between destinations in our Motorhome, we have
found Wal-Mart to be accommodating of our needs for a few hours rest.
We consider the availability of Wal-Mart parking to be similar to
parking at roadside rest areas. Our intent is not to set-up camp but rather
to get some rest and/or to shop for "provisions." We only stay long
enough to get some adequate rest before continuing down the road.
Our experience has been that the vast majority of RV'rs who avail
themselves to Wal-Mart parking do so for the purpose as stated above. I
will concede, however, that there are a few who have taken advantage of
such available parking and "camped". Camping, further being defined as
the intent to "stay" at the Wal-Mart parking lot in excess of that time
required to get some rest and to shop for provisions.
Another phenomenon that has/is occurring is aggressive lobbying on the
part of campground owner associations throughout the United States to
force Wal-mart to rescind their overnight RV parking policy. With the
advent of the internet and lightning fast communications, these
campground owners are, in my opinion, marketing themselves as greed
driven and unscrupulous businessmen. A typical stay at a private
campground can cost the typical RV'r $25 and up per day for amenities
not wanted or needed .
In my experience, RV'rs are more often than not, retired couples who are
not on a prescribed time schedule. They both travel and live in their
RV's which have totally self-contained potable drinking water, closed
sanitation systems as well as electric power, heating, air conditioning,
and food preparation/refrigeration appliances. These folks don't need
the amenities offered by private campgrounds when their only purpose is
to catch a few hours of "shut-eye."
Mayor Shaw, I would encourage you to bring both Wal-Mart and the private
campground owners to the "table" to discuss the issue prior to passing
any local ordinances that address the issue. Potential solutions may
include: First, allowing "overnight" RV parking at Wal-Mart vice
camping....set a limit on the amount of time.....not to exceed 18 hours,
perhaps. Second, encouraging private campground owners to offer RV'rs,
who only want to stay overnight, a reduced rate without all of the
amenities.....perhaps $5/night to simply "park."
Lastly, as a retired business owner, I would encourage the city council
of Rapid City NOT to attempt to regulate or intervene in the
"marketplace." I'm sure that a working solution can be reached that
will satisfy the concerns and needs of all involved. Campground owners
can realize additional revenue by offering a reduced "overnight" fee.
Wal-Mart can profit from additional retail sales to those RV'rs who are
simply parking "overnight." RV'rs can pick and choose who they wish to
patronize. And, the community of Rapid City will not incur additional
costs in the enforcement of an additional ordinance/regulation.