Skip to Content

California Can’t Keep Up With Its RV Ban

For centuries, visitors have flocked to California. Whether it’s the booming economy, the incredible natural environment, the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, or the desire to be on the cutting edge of tech, there’s much to love about the Golden State.

Unfortunately, the state has some severe housing problems, which have spilled over into the RV world. Still, there are growing signs that the steps taken by one city to enforce its so-called “RV ban” aren’t working.

Let’s take a closer look at the situation.

Can You Legally Park Overnight on a Street Anywhere in California? 

While there are places where you can park your RV overnight on the street in California, it isn’t legal everywhere. Officials decide traffic and parking ordinances on a local or county level, so rules about where and how long you can park your RV will vary widely by the area. In some cities, there are no significant restrictions on RV overnight parking other than in the town’s commercial areas.

Other regions, like master-planned communities, may not allow RV parking at any time. That’s why it’s vital to double-check the rules before parking overnight on the street, mainly if you’re staying in your RV. You may end up with a steep ticket or, worse, wake up to find a tow truck dragging you away! 

Pro Tip: While traveling in California, avoid these Most Overrated California Tourist Attractions.

What Is the New Los Angeles RV Ordinance? 

The issues that sparked these new rules date to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. LA officials suspended towing RVs, saying they didn’t want to add to the troubles faced by people living in the rigs due to an inability to afford a traditional home.

However, some neighborhoods complained that RVers were setting up their rigs permanently, contributing to a lack of parking and accusations the RVers were harming the quality of life for other residents. Some RVers and their advocates argued they had no other place to go.

They claimed forcing them to move would shift the problem around and create new issues for the unhoused. The City Council voted in April 2022 to rescind that change as of May 15, ordering parking officials to again ticket and tow RVs that violate parking signage. 

Woman looking out RV window on the beach in California.
If you’re looking for an RV beach adventure, a trip to California might not be in the cards for you.

Why Is California Struggling to Enforce It?

Surprisingly, LA isn’t having trouble enforcing the law because of a lack of personnel or an inability to find offending rigs. It’s simply because they don’t have anywhere to tow the RVs and store them! Naturally, RVs take up much more space than traditional vehicles.

Only one of the impound lots the city works with can accept any trailers or motorhomes at all. Until city officials figure out a solution, they’re unlikely to enforce the law consistently. 

Can You Live in an RV Full Time in California? 

You can live in an RV full-time in California if you follow the rules. California has no regulations or laws prohibiting the full-time habitation of an RV. In fact, thousands or more Californians are likely living in their RVs. The difference is that most full-time RVers stay at RV parks, campgrounds, or other legal spots. Naturally, this will cost money.

It will also provide you with a safe and legal place to lay your head at night. It’s possible to live full-time in an RV or motorhome in less formal situations, be it boondocking or simply staying on the side of the road. However, you may expose yourself to potential problems by skirting the rules, from an expensive ticket to coming home to find the city has towed your RV!

Pro Tip: On your California road trip you must visit these 5 Incredible California Castles.

RV driving on California Highway 101
Make sure to research all the rules to RVing in Cali before you go.

Where Else Can RVs Park for Free in California? 

If you’re looking for a free place to park your rig, especially for overnight or other short-term stays, you’re in luck. There are still many options out there! Aside from street parking, RVers in California can take advantage of favorites like Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots.

As always, it’s vital to check with each location to ensure they allow overnight parking. 

Truck stops are another option. While they often have an unduly rough reputation, most folks encounter no issues while overnighting at a truck stop. Still, others may feel understandably uncomfortable with the general environment. 

For those who don’t mind roughing it, boondocking is always available throughout California’s expansive public lands. There may be restrictions on the length of stay or other factors to keep in mind, even if staying is free. 

Is the Los Angeles RV Ordinance a Good Law?

It’s easy to see both sides of Los Angeles’ new RV parking rules. On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with residents concerned about the quality of life and parking availability in their neighborhoods. On the other hand, these are public streets. RVers think they should have the right to park there like anyone else. Still, the severe difficulties the city is having enforcing the law remain an unsolved problem. The rules are unlikely to have much of an impact until they resolve those issues.

What do you think of the Los Angeles RV ban? Tell us in the comments!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: