SALEM, Ore. — Two administrative code changes being proposed in Oregon are raising eyebrows in that state as the measures could impact RV sales, RV Daily Report has learned.
One park model manufacturer, Golden West Homes, has told RV Daily Report the company will likely no longer sell units in Oregon or Washington as a result of the proposed rule changes.
Charlie Curry, an RV park owner in Washington who also sells and installs park models, expressed concern about what the proposed laws will mean for his business and customers who live in park models full-time at his campground.
Bill Baker, senior director of communications for the RV Industry Association, told RV Daily Report today there are really two issues at play. The first brings Oregon law into alignment with the laws of 47 other states. The second pertains to state regulation as to whom can build a park model.
For years, Oregon has maintained its own code standards that regulate the construction of parks models. The state is one of three states that set their own rules.
The issue came to light when some people started objecting to seeing park models and tiny homes permanently sited at RV parks and campgrounds. That means the units were hardwired into plumbing and electricity, and many had permanently attached structures, like decks and patios that make it very difficult for the park models to be moved.
Currently, RVs and park models are manufactured to meet standards developed by the American National Standards Institute. ANSI Standards 119.2 and 119.5 regulate how RVs and park models are to be constructed as temporary, seasonal vehicles, which are further governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Permanent homes, like manufactured homes or modular buildings, are generally governed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Baker said the Oregon measure is an attempt to ensure state law uses the same language that regulates construction of RVs in 47 other states. The goal is to have a statewide standard for how park models and tiny homes are to be built, while giving local jurisdictions freedom to regulate how they are used.
For example, the City of Portland may not care if people life full-time in tiny houses and park models as long as they are built to RV standards. However, another city may object to people using RVs as full-time residences even though the units are built to RV standards.
“End usage is something that is generally determined by local jurisdictions,” Baker said. “This change is an effort to take park model and tiny house construction out of specific state regulations and simply state the RVs have to be manufactured according to ANSI A119.2 and A119.5 requirements.”
Regulating who builds RVs
The second issue, which could have a broader impact on the RV industry, is an effort to regulate who can work on park models and tiny homes while they are being constructed. It’s a gray language area and further clarification is required, Baker explained.
The proposal states that licensed electricians and plumbers would only be able to work on park models and tiny homes. That language is not part of the ANSI standards.
That would mean that in order to be used in Oregon, whomever installed the electrical and plumbing components would have had to be licensed. This could pose an issue for units manufactured outside of Oregon and shipped into the state for sale and installation.
RVIA is working with Oregon officials to clarify the language to ensure that park models do not fall under housing regulations, but rather remain covered by ANSI standards.
“We certainly don’t want to see the cost of park models go up for builders, dealers or customers,” said Baker. “We feel that ANSI standards effectively govern how RVs are to be safely constructed. However, we do not believe that using RVs or park models as permanently-sited homes for full-time use is a good idea. They are designed for recreational and seasonal use.”
The process has created a lot of confusion among campground owners who either sell park models to customers or allow them to be installed at their campgrounds, Curry said.
“Yesterday, I contacted eight RV parks and resorts in Oregon, all of which utilize park models as overnight rentals as well as renting RV sites to owners of private park models,” he told RV Daily Report. “None of these parks were aware of the proposed rule changes in regards to park models — not one.”
Curry said a state official told him the regulations needed to be changed because several people had died in park model-related fires, but Curry could find no evidence of such a fire in newer, 12-foot-wide park models.
“I personally feel that these new proposed rules — especially those involving placement — will cut park model sales on units to be set up in Oregon by 80 percent or more,” said Curry. “It will over-regulate these units to a degree that no one will want to purchase them.
“The economic impact this will create will be far larger than people may imagine,” he added, suggesting that the state needs to do a full economic impact report looking the impact the rule changes will have on recreation communities statewide.
“Look at the loss of tourism dollars spent in the state, and look at the loss of jobs at several major manufactures building ANSI-certified park models,” he explained. “Look at the many small family-owned business that build smaller numbers of units, but units that are still ASSI-119.5 stamped.”
A hearing on the proposed rule changes is scheduled for Wednesday in Salem. For more information, visit the Oregon Residential and Manufactured Structures Board website.