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Open Roads Forum  >  RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions

 > camping on TN public lands illegal and a felony???

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charlestonsouthern

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Posted: 05/23/22 06:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Johnhicks, yes, it is now a federal case in the state of Colorado between a church (their private property) who brings in visiting ministers with their RVs (and have been doing this for years) versus the local municipality or county. I'll try to find the case. US Constitutional Law is involved.

The Tennessee problem is that it is written too broad, so much so that it requires the townships to totally enforce it (which takes a lot of money) and takes away the power to run their own towns while affecting their small economy. If the Tennessee law was written strictly to run the homeless out of the state, then say that in the law; don't be political hypocrits and have it inclusive of tourism. All very small Tennessee towns do not have RV parks, but they do need RV tourists cash for their economy while driving through. The state says these towns will be penalized if they don't enforce the state law; well, then, the state should provide the money to do it.

ItsyRV

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Posted: 05/23/22 07:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

charlestonsouthern wrote:

Johnhicks, yes, it is now a federal case in the state of Colorado between a church (their private property) who brings in visiting ministers with their RVs (and have been doing this for years) versus the local municipality or county.

The Pueblo CO case is dealing with the RLUIPA so it is limited to only the regulations on a religious organization. A favorable ruling for the ministry would not apply to a Walmart or Cracker Barrel.


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charlestonsouthern

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Posted: 05/23/22 07:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Itsy, you are correct. This case is certainly a "separation of church and state" issue, thereby an interpretation of US Constitution.

JRscooby

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Posted: 05/24/22 04:23am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jdc1 wrote:

johnhicks wrote:

The intent is to prevent the homeless from camping in non-CG parks and rights-of-way by criminalizing them.


They might as well just say "Being homeless in Tennessee is a felony".


Yes, let's make it illegal to be poor.
This is not the only policy in that state, that if commonly known would cause most to avoid the state.

valhalla360

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Posted: 05/24/22 07:31am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

charlestonsouthern wrote:

There could be an economic bad side to this. A lot of Canadians driving down in their RV and taking the back roads; they happen upon a nice little Tennessee town and decide to spend some time being a tourist and drop some cash at the neighborhood grocery store, restaurant, microbrewery, antique store, admission to a small museum, and/or trinket shop. All of this may require a couple of nights parking say on a dead end street. The Tennessee municipalities or townships know how tourism works in their town; however, the state has taken these decisions out of the townships hands. Therefore, the Canadian RVer drives right through town on the way to their final destination and not dropping any cash in that Tennessee town. When a state writes new laws, they should not take out part of the economies of small towns.


The people camping in neighborhood streets typically aren't spending a lot while they are there, so I'm not seeing too many heart broken towns fretting over the money.

Of course, if the city is OK with it, they can always not enforce the state law. There are thousands of laws on the books and they can't enforce every one.


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valhalla360

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Posted: 05/24/22 07:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

charlestonsouthern wrote:

Johnhicks, yes, it is now a federal case in the state of Colorado between a church (their private property) who brings in visiting ministers with their RVs (and have been doing this for years) versus the local municipality or county. I'll try to find the case. US Constitutional Law is involved.


Sounds like it's more of a grandfathering issue with a poorly written ordinance.

Zoning laws are well established. The issue would be if they changed it after the church established the pattern of using the parking lot for overnighting in RVs. Or if there was evidence that they were targeting the church specifically.

Prohibiting camping in the parking lots of businesses not set up and zoned for such, is fairly straight forward.

bikendan

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Posted: 05/24/22 11:23am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JRscooby wrote:

jdc1 wrote:

johnhicks wrote:

The intent is to prevent the homeless from camping in non-CG parks and rights-of-way by criminalizing them.


They might as well just say "Being homeless in Tennessee is a felony".


Yes, let's make it illegal to be poor.
This is not the only policy in that state, that if commonly known would cause most to avoid the state.


IMHO, it would be the reverse. As a California refugee and now a Washington State refugee, I look forward to visiting Tennessee.


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pianotuna

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Posted: 05/24/22 05:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The fact that anyone is unhoused in the United States is a structural failing and should bring elected officials on all sides of the political aisle a good deal of shame. People living in unsafe conditions anywhere in one of the wealthiest countries in the world is uniquely unacceptable, and yet as I type this, we all know there are tons of unhoused people, including veterans, disabled people, children, pregnant people, and folks living with chronic mental and physical health conditions, among others.
One example comes to us from Tennessee, which is set to become the first state in the nation to make it a felony to camp in parks and other public property spaces, as reported by the Associated Press. The law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2022, will serve one purpose: It will make unhoused folks felons. It will do no good.
How will the law work in practice? It’s important to keep in mind that it’s already a felony to camp on most state-owned property in Tennessee, as of legislation that went into effect back in 2020, so this is essentially an expansion of the existing law. In this case, unhoused folks must be notified at least 24 hours before being arrested. Because it’s a felony charge, the long-term ramifications are incredibly steep: up to six years in prison and the loss of the right to vote. The law also makes it a misdemeanor for someone to solicit or camp along highways in the state.

Now, whether or not prosecutors actually pursue these charges is another story. But even if the law is rarely enforced, it could easily still be harmful to people who are already most vulnerable when it comes to law enforcement and the court system, like Black unhoused folks and sex workers, for example.

Bobby Watts, who serves as the CEO of the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, told the Associated Press in an interview that this law will do “nothing” to solve the homeless crisis, and in fact, will only make it worse.

“Having a felony on your record makes it hard to qualify for some types of housing,” Watts explained. “Harder to get a job, harder to qualify for benefits.”

He went on to add that housing subsidies and social services aimed at unhoused veterans have helped reduce the number of homeless vets in the last decade, saying it’s “not magic” that helping people access safe, stable, and secure housing will help keep people off the streets. You might remember that Daily Kos covered the exciting and encouraging move happening in California, where a resort was actually transformed into long-term housing for unhoused military veterans and their families. That housing includes on-site support services, too.

Again: This approach working makes perfect sense. Many shelters have had to limit capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hasn’t helped matters, but it’s also true that some unhoused folks don’t want to be in a shelter. This can be because of criminal records, immigration concerns, substance use, paranoia or distrust linked to mental health issues, shelters not allowing pets, and other concerns.

Unhoused folks are as diverse and varied as everyone else, and do not lose the right to their preferences and priorities just because they are unhoused. Obviously, the solution is not to simply shrug and say, “Well, if you don’t like the shelter, we give up on you,” which is essentially what these felony threats serve to do.


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ken56

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Posted: 05/24/22 05:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

These people who do this are not 'RV'ers. The simple fact that they have an RV they live in does not make them tourists. Many are "homeless" because they CHOOSE to be homeless. Many are drug addicts. Many have mental issues. They tend to park in a place and if they are not 'run off' by the local authorities then they become a nuisance. They will dump their black tank right in the street or a storm sewer. I have no sympathy or tolerance for this. I've seen all of this in Salt Lake City. I don't want it in my city.

toedtoes

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Posted: 05/24/22 06:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ken56 wrote:

These people who do this are not 'RV'ers. The simple fact that they have an RV they live in does not make them tourists. Many are "homeless" because they CHOOSE to be homeless. Many are drug addicts. Many have mental issues. They tend to park in a place and if they are not 'run off' by the local authorities then they become a nuisance. They will dump their black tank right in the street or a storm sewer. I have no sympathy or tolerance for this. I've seen all of this in Salt Lake City. I don't want it in my city.


You are right. The people this law is targeting are NOT Rvers or tourists. This law is targeting the homeless.

This is NOT going to affect tourism or RVing. It IS going to affect homeless people.

And that is more about politics than about RVs.


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