Wal*Mart Free Parking


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This is the KOA head quarters folks !!

Carol Linde’s letter to the editor of the Billings Montana Gazette this gal is--- " Your hosts: 1998 "KOA Franchisee of the Year" honorees, Marvin & Carol Linde".

Out-of-town freeloaders don't deserve free camping
I'm against allowing RVers to do what is known as boondocking (freeloading) in a parking lot such as Wal-mart. People who boondock go from town to town freeloading on the community in which they spend the night. While they park for free in a big-box store lot, they enjoy the benefit of police and fire protection. They dispose of their trash in someone's Dumpster and find a place to empty their sewage holding tanks while filling up with fresh water. All for free, thanks to the generous taxpayers of Billings.

I know that the City Council, mayor and The Billings Gazette have received e-mails from people who will tell you that if the city continues to enforce the ordinance, RVers will bypass Billings. Why do we owe them a free place to camp overnight? Most of the people who write these e-mails are from out of state. They have nothing better to do than sit in Internet chat rooms and complain to one another about free boondocking sites. They most likely have no plans to come to Billings in the first place, yet they somehow feel we are infringing on some right of theirs to camp free. Instead, all I ask is that they camp in a licensed campground.

Please, let's not let a bunch of out-of-state freeloaders tell us what to do. Instead, let's show some support for our local small businesses by continuing to be the leader in Montana and discourage boondocking.

Carol Linde

Go here to read the discussions on KOA and the city


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Wal*Mart Free Parking

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RV owners upset with city over parking laws
Of The Gazette Staff

RV owners are up in arms over attempts by the city of Billings to
enforce a section of city code prohibiting overnight RV camping
except in licensed campgrounds.

Although the crackdown started last summer, the city didn't hear any
complaints from RV owners until recently. Nancy McCullough, a
commercial code enforcement officer for the city, said she has
fielded 12 complaints from RV owners since June 27.

Four people from different parts of the country have sent letters
decrying the city's actions to The Gazette. One letter writer warned
that news of the crackdown "is beginning to radiate through the RV
community" and could ultimately cause a lot of tourists to bypass the

McCullough and her boss, Planning and Community Services Director
Ramona Mattix, say it's simply a case of responding to complaints
that city laws were being ignored.

The main law in question is part of the city's traffic code and has
been on the books since at least 1967. It says, in full: "It is
unlawful for any person to park any motor vehicle for camping
purposes in the city except in an authorized tourist park."

When the owners of several RV parks complained last summer that RVs
were illegally parking overnight in the two Wal-Mart lots in
Billings, city officials met with Wal-Mart representatives last
September. As a result, Wal-Mart started posting signs in its lots,
informing patrons that it was against the law to park there

In addition, the stores agreed to have their security guards put
fliers explaining the law under the windshield wipers of any RVs
parked at Wal-Mart for more than four hours after 9 p.m. or at any
time past 2 a.m. Mattix said that has been the extent of enforcing
the law. City code enforcement officers have not issued any

Some of the people who wrote letters to the editor complained that
they only wanted to take a quick nap and used Wal-Mart lots for
convenience. Mattix said they probably wouldn't be affected by the

"If someone just wanted a few hours' sleep in the middle of the
afternoon, I don't know how we could tell them from other Wal-Mart
shoppers," she said.

John Terzich, the assistant manager of the Wal-Mart in the Heights,
said every RV owner who comes into the store tells him they've never
had problems parking at any other Wal-Mart. They don't really
complain, he said, "they just want to know why."

Marty Heires, a Wal-Mart spokesman at company headquarters in
Bentonville, Ark., said Wal-Mart has never actively encouraged
overnight camping. It's just something that developed over time and
was not objected to by the company because people who spend the night
in the parking lot generally spend some money at Wal-Mart in the

Overnight camping is prohibited by some individual stores because
there isn't enough room, he said, and there are other places where
local laws ban camping in parking lots. He said the only place he
could think of where such laws are strictly enforced was in

"We're fine with that," he said. "We perfectly understand that.
Wherever it's prohibited, we comply with local ordinances."

Lt. Greg Willoughby of the Missoula Police Department said the law
there only prohibits people from camping in RVs on public right of
way. A couple of years ago, however, someone misinterpreted the law
and Wal-Mart posted signs saying it was illegal for RVs to spend the
night. When store managers were told it was legal, Willoughby said,
the signs came down.

McCullough said Lowe's, which is just west of the West End Wal-Mart,
voluntarily posted signs explaining the city law after RVs evicted
from Wal-Mart start spilling into the Lowe's lot. McCullough said
there used to be as many as 20 RVs a night in the West End Wal-Mart

At the KOA Kampground on Garden Avenue - the first KOA in the
country - RV owners who don't want any services can park their rigs
for $28 a night. The fee goes up to $45 for water, electric and sewer

The city also received complaints about RVs parking at the Holiday
Inn Grand Montana Hotel and Convention Center on Midland Road.
General Manager Scott Larsen said the hotel had been offering 21 RV
slots for many years, aiming the service at long-distance travelers
who might like a chance to use hotel amenities on occasion.

For $25 a night, the Holiday Inn gives RV owners a room key that
gives them access to the hotel pool, laundry, exercise room and bar
and restaurant, plus an electrical hookup. RVers can even have room
service deliver meals to their vehicles. Larsen said he had no idea
such a service was illegal until he was contacted by the city earlier
this summer.

His solution was to apply for a campground license through the state
Department of Health and Human Services, which he says was promptly
granted. The license has to be renewed annually and costs $40 a year,
he said.

City Councilman Dave Brown said he heard from at least one RV owner
upset with the city law, and Brown said he suggested at a recent
council meeting that the law be repealed. So far the idea hasn't gone
beyond the discussion stage, he said.

Meanwhile, the city continues to field complaints about RVs parked in
the front yard of private residences or used for living or sleeping.
Those uses are prohibited by zoning ordinance, not traffic law, and
as such are not dealt with by McCullough, who handles commercial

But she said her residential code enforcement colleagues have been
kept running. One man who was cited for illegal RV storage drove
around the city and entered complaints on more than 200 illegally
parked RVs, McCullough said. Code enforcement officers are slowly
working their way through the list, she said.
Ed Kemmick can be reached at 657-1293


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Wal*Mart Free Parking

Wal-Mart offers "free overnight parking" as a way to bring in business to their stores, not because they believe they are providing a necessary service to RVers. Most RVers that I have heard from say they spend from $50 to $100 almost every time they stop at a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has become a great place to restock almost anything one needs on their way to a campground somewhere that does not meet this need.

But this is not about parking at Wal-Mart. Its about free parking everywhere. Its about those organizations that claim to be the RVers friend in their publications and then try to use the cities to funnel our money back to their own pockets.

This is a perceived problem by the pinhead leaders of these groups and not a real threat to the campgrounds that provide good service at a reasonable price.

The "Camp on the Heart" (http://www.campontheheart.homestead.com) RV park in Dickinson, SD, responded to the opening of a WalMart in their town by offering free dry camping. They hope to earn a little revenue from dry campers at their restaurant and gift shop.
Beth, the owner of the "Camp on the Heart" RV park in Dikinson, ND and the OWNER COMFIRMED that YES RV's may dry camp FREE on her property, she has 30 acres in the grass with a river view available.(about 120 SW of Minot and 100 W of Bismarck)

She feels that why not attract potential customer with a comp, naturally those RV'ers should patronize her store and other facilities and, there will be a charge for using the dump station and other services. Perhaps if you wish to stay longer and pay for full hookups she probably can accomodate you.

Thanks for your time,
Bob Sammons
97 Monaco Dynasty
03 Yukon XL

DL Rupper

Senior Member
Wal*Mart Free Parking

I guess Billings doesn't profit from the fuel, groceries and fast food expeditures the RV'ers leave behind after spending the night at Wal-Mart. Best medicine is Boycott Billings and see if it is just a few disgruntled RV'ers sitting around with nothing better to do than bad mouth Billings. What difference does it make if some RV'ers travel from town-to-town "boondocking" at Wal-Mart, they still spend money locally at every town. Maybe if RV Park owners didn't gouge the RV'ers so bad, they would be more inclined to stay at their park. $28 to park at KOA and dry camp is outrageous. Anything over $20 (w/full hookups) to park and sleep in your own bed is ridiculous. Boycott Billings and KOA. Actually we don't ever stay at KOA because their prices are always high and being fulltimers we don't need the swimming pools and gamerooms the KOA's have for all the kids.

Grandview Trailer Sa

Senior Member
Wal*Mart Free Parking

Well gentlemen, The Walmart here in Bedford VA has posted signs all around their parking lot saying "no overnight parking" in big letters. This has been talked about before here, wonder if something new is going around Walmart.


Senior Member
Wal*Mart Free Parking

The following was clipped from the Wal Mart internet site.

quote:RV Parking
Wal-Mart permits recreational-vehicle (RV) parking on our store lots, as we are able. The ability to accommodate RVs is determined on a store-by-store basis, contingent upon available space, local regulations and ordinances.

This can be found at http://www.walmartfacts.com/newsdesk/company-statements.aspx#a780

I am sure that there is either a local law, or a space problem. For myself, I have no problem with Wal Mart having the right to restrict over night parking when and where they feel it is needed. What I strongly object to is the RV park owners and lead by the ARVC, working to force RV owners to pay for their facilities. Other businesses find ways to attract customers and to make us want to use their services. For some reason, owners of RV parks think that there should be laws to require that we stay with them. The following comes from the site of ARVC:
quote:Are You a Victim of "Free" Overnight Parking?
Few problems are as frustrating for RV parks and campgrounds as losing customers to super stores, shopping centers, school parking lots and other locations that offer free overnight parking to RVers.

While those who offer such free overnight RV parking may have honorable motivations, they usually wind up creating unsafe and unsightly public nuisances. Reputable RV parks and campgrounds, who make substantial contributions to their communities, lose potential business to these locations.

Although there is nothing the Federal government can do to alleviate the problem, there is much that can be done at the local level. ARVC is preparing materials to provide help and guidance to its members who are plagued by this all too common problem. The ARVC kit will provide an overview of the problem, explain how to get local government to take action, provide model legislative language that can be applied in such situations, and encourage the formation of a network of RV parks and campgrounds that have been confronted by the problem of free overnight parking.

You can find this statement on the site of ARVC at http://www.arvc.org/freeparking.html

If you would like to send your comments to the author of the above letter to the Billings Gazette, the KOA owner has email. The address is: blgskoakamp@aol.com