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Ketchum And Hailey Allow RV Living On Private Land. How Is It Going?

The inside of a modern airstream with a mini kitchen and a bed in the back.
Scott Ki
A file photo of the inside of an Airstream

The cities of Ketchum and Hailey in the Wood River Valley passed ordinances earlier this summer allowing local workers to park recreational vehicles long term on private property. The goal is to increase affordable living options.

But a month later, no one has applied for a permit in Ketchum and only two parties have been issued permits in Hailey.

The two cities’ ordinances are essentially the same. They allow locally-employed residents to live or “camp” in RVs on private property for six months, except between Nov. 30 through March 15 due to cold weather and snow. Property owners are not allowed to use RVs as short-term rentals.

Ketchum previously did not allow camping in residential zones and Hailey only allowed people to park RVs on private property for 30 days.

Both cities citied the affordable housing crisis as the reason for passing their respective ordinances.

“While new housing units are being constructed, the City of Hailey and other valley jurisdictions are looking at a variety of interim solutions to ease the housing burden,” Hailey’s information flier states.

Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw said the concept for the RV living option came up at a community housing conversation the city hosted in May, where city council members heard general interest in the idea.

“As time goes by, maybe they found other options, better options, more preferable options, I don’t know,” he said. “I was expecting a bigger uptake, but we’re in the early days of this.”

A Ketchum city administrator clarified by email later that the city hasn't finished creating its permit application and hasn't received any inquiries about the program.

In Hailey, Mo Goulet is one of the two people who’ve received a temporary occupancy permit so far. Goulet rented the same house for 18 years before the owner sold it last summer. After living in a hotel for six months, he took his motorhome out of storage and parked it at a friend’s house in a canyon outside the city limits.

“It just wasn’t a good place to live,” he said. “It was out there in the middle of nowhere, the winds were high and it was really hot.”

As soon as he heard about the new ordinance he filled out a form to park outside a different friend’s house, a block from Main Street. For $600 a month, he’s using their electricity, water and internet.

He said it’s a temporary solution while he looks for more permanent housing. Last year, he put in offers for three different houses in the valley and they all sold very quickly with cash offers, he said.

The cities emphasize this policy is an experimental one, and not necessarily a housing solution, but an “interim measure.”

In Ketchum, some of the other short-term housing solutions have been tabled, like one idea that suggested people could live in tents on city property. Others are still in the works, like dedicating federal COVID dollars to housing initiatives.

Local workers can apply for a permit to live in an RV on private property in Hailey by emailing planning@haileycityhall.org or calling 208-788-9815.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio