Local Officials Offer Challenges to Park Developers in Calif.
California Outdoor Hospitality Association (CalOHA) President Dyana Kelley has alerted California Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association (CalRVDA) members to the challenges private park operators face in expanding the numbers of campsites in California.
Speaking to RV dealers attending the 2023 CalRVDA Summit at the Omni San Diego Hotel, Kelley said many cities and counties in California have put up regulatory hurdles and roadblocks that make it difficult to build new parks or expand existing ones, despite unprecedented demand for RVs and the well documented economic benefits that campgrounds, RV parks and resorts bring to their communities.
Last summer, she said, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors rezoned campgrounds and RV parks as “legal non-conforming” in a move that makes it harder for private parks to expand or make other improvements in the Silicon Valley area. County officials took this action despite opposition from CalOHA, national ARVC and Jellystone Park officials and despite the well documented economic benefits that private parks bring to communities, Kelley said.
As far back as 2015, a national economic study commissioned by the RV Industry Association (RVIA) concluded that the RV and campground industries provided $49.7 billion in direct economic output, including $2.2 billion in direct economic output for California alone.
Efforts to build new or expand existing campgrounds and RV parks in California dwarf similar efforts in other states because of pushback from city and county officials, Kelley said. However, whenever new parks come online or offer new campsites and amenities, Kelley said, they are quickly filled up by campers, bringing economic benefits to their respective communities. Kelley cited Flying Flags Avila Beach in Port San Luis, near San Luis Obispo, which has been consistently busy since it opened in late 2021.
California’s newest luxury RV resort, Coachella Lakes RV Resort in Coachella, is expected to open this summer, Kelley said, and will likely be highly sought after by Snowbirds and desert recreation enthusiasts, providing additional revenue for the Coachella Valley economy which thrives on tourism.
Kelley told CalRVDA members she is trying to strengthen CalOHA’s political strength by increasing its membership base and by strengthening the association’s alliances with other tourism organizations.
Kelley serves on the California Travel Association’s government relations committee. She uses her position on the CalTravel board to raise the profile of the campground industry and to develop positive working relationships with her peers in the tourism industry, most of whom represent hotels and convention and visitors bureaus.
But while Kelley regularly joins her CalTravel board members in meetings with state legislators, she said she welcomes more support from the RV industry associations as CalOHA continues its efforts to support the continued growth and expansion of the campground and RV park business in California. Such expansion, she said, is needed to ensure that California can continue to accommodate the rising numbers of RVers who support local businesses with their purchases. Kelley said she plans to attend RVIA’s Leadership Conference March 15-18 in Phoenix.
Based in Auburn, California, the California Outdoor Hospital Association is the trade association that represents campgrounds, RV parks and glamping resorts in California. The association markets private parks through its website at Camp-California.com.