Park_River_Front.JPG
  • via reederbeach.com

As of last Monday, long-time residents of the RV park on Sauvie Island thought they would soon find themselves without a place to park their homes. The Oregonian reported that if Multnomah County enforces its interpretation of urban growth boundaries and land-use codes, residents of the park who have been there for years would be out on the streets.

But today Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury pledged not to remove the more than 50 long-term residents from the embattled Reeder Beach RV Park. "We're not going to kick these people out," Kafoury told the Mercury.

Park owner Jan Reeder says that neighbors around the park have complained about “tacky trailer trash” and pushed land use planning staff to enforce a 30-day stay limit at the park. But Lisa Estin, a land use planner with Multnomah County, says the park came under scrutiny after Reeder applied for an expansion permit in 2007.

Reeder cited state law to defend her park—Oregon Revised Statute 197.493 says “a state agency or local government may not prohibit the placement or occupancy of a recreational vehicle, or impose any limit on the length of occupancy of a recreational vehicle” so long as the vehicle is in an RV park and hooked up to water, electric and sewage systems.

But the county land use hearings officer decided that several parking spots at the Reeder Beach RV Park are not part of a mobile home park, but a campground intended for temporary stays. Although some residents had lived in the parking spots for years, the land use officer said they were only legally supposed to be there for 30 days.

Kafoury says the county will work to hammer out a compromise that allows current long-term residents at the park to stay for an extended period. Of the park’s 53 long-term tenants, 20 are war veterans, Reeder says. “Several tenants are living here specifically because of our proximity to OHSU [Oregon Health & Science University] and the veterans’ hospital there,” Reeder says.

The long-term residents aren’t just a bunch of vagabond loners, but have built a community at Reeder Beach. Ruth Thornton, a resident at Reeder for 14 years, says residents look after each other, helping disabled neighbors get to doctor appointments or go grocery shopping. Leaving Reeder is a daunting prospect for Thorton and she is thrilled with Kafoury's dedication. "She's a gem," Thornton says. "To have someone care about us, it makes all of us in the park feel wonderful."