Santa Cruz County abuzz over Craigslist ad on van for rent for $800 a month – The Mercury News

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RIO DEL MAR – This month, a “for rent” ad on Craigslist got Aptos residents abuzz: “Van for rent. Not mobile. No restroom inside van. No access to main house. Few blocks to Rio del Mar Beach. The beach has sinks, toilets, showers. The rent will be $800 a month. You will need first and last month’s rent with a $300 security deposit to move in.”
Once the ad made it to the Aptosia Facebook page run by Jeremy Leonard, the conversation was off and running. Some thought it must be satirical or a joke. A Fremont man confirmed he had placed an ad earlier this month about renting an RV he owned.
“This is taking advantage of people. Not okay,” one woman commented.
The showers have no hot water, noted a man who recently worked on the plumbing at the beach bathrooms.
“The fact that we are debating if it’s real or not is indicative of a serious housing dilemma,” one said.
Another added, “The housing crisis is no joke.”
Some expressed sympathy for those who are living in their car because they can’t afford rent.
Asking price for a room in a Rio del Mar house with an ocean view was $1,000 a month.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a vehicle has been turned into a residence or cast aside by the owner, but abandoned vehicles have become a issue countywide.
More than 200 complaints about abandoned vehicles have been reported in the past year to Santa Cruz County on an app called “Citizen Connect,” making it the second most reported problem after fireworks.
As for someone mooching off the park system, Bill Wolcott, public safety superintendent for California State Parks in Felton, said state park restrooms are available to the public during the day and locked at night.
He noted RV parking has been issue for both the city of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County.
STEEP RENT
Why would someone put a van or RV up for rent?
Simple: Rent is is high.
Zillow reported the median rent in Santa Cruz County was $2,914 in October, up 6.2 percent over the past year and expected to rise 6 percent in the year ahead.
Renters in Santa Cruz County making less than $30,000 bear that brunt, with half paying 50 percent of their income for rent, according to a 2016 report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.
And Santa Cruz County ranked in the top 20 among 380 metro areas for renters paying half their income for rent.
The Craigslist ad provided a phone number for Jason, a handyman from Fremont.
When the Sentinel called Jason, he said there had been interest.
When told that there had been complaints, he said, “It’s not on the street.”
When informed that the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office had arranged for the offending vehicle to be towed, he said, “That’s a different van. It’s not mine.”
A LEGAL PROCESS
Earlier this month, vans and recreational vehicles — some seemingly abandoned — lined Moosehead Drive, a short walk away from Rio Del Mar State Beach.
Among them was a big RV lacking a license and bearing a nameplate of “Holiday Rambler.”
Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Dimick said that RV was towed Dec. 12 after following the legal process for abandoned vehicles.
“This wasn’t a hazard, it was more of a blight,” he said.
When a complaint alleging a vehicle has been abandoned, a Sheriff’s Office volunteer goes out and puts a notification on the vehicle warning it could be towed or its owner cited.
After 72 hours, the volunteer checks to see if the vehicle is still there.
“Many times, people move the car,” Dimick said.
If the vehicle has not been moved, the community service officer in charge of vehicle abatement is notified.
The officer mails a notice to the registered owner and there is a 10-day waiting period, giving the owner a chance to respond.
In this case, the notice was mailed Nov. 30 and there was no response, according to Dimick.
“We were authorized to remove the vehicle Dec. 11,” he said.
Pick-n-Pull, a chain with a location in Moss Landing that has a towing contract with the Sheriff’s Office, towed the RV Dec. 12.
The RV will sit in storage for 30 days, giving the owner a chance to claim it.
If the owner does not reclaim it, the vehicle can be dismantled, Dimick said.
SOLUTIONS?
Commenters on Aptosia said they hoped the county would allow tiny houses and composting toilets and adjust zoning for rentals.
A new state law, AB 2299, requires all counties to permit an accessory dwelling unit on any parcel with a single-family home in a single-family or multi-family zone. Changes to comply with the law will be going to Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors next year.
“If you are tired of seeing people live in cars, lower rent,” suggested a former Cabrillo College student who posts on Aptosia. ”Cause guaranteed your barista at Aptos coffee or your cashier at the Safeway gas station leaves work to sleep in their car, because there is no way they can afford to live here.”
HOW TO REPORT
What: Citizens Connect, a free county app for mobile devices, is a place where residents can report problems such as abandoned vehicles, dead birds, environmental health issue, stagnant water, dead deer, encampments, graffiti, illegal dumping, illegal grows, potholes, sewer spills, street signs down and tree trimming.
Issues reported: 1,594 as of Sept. 30, 2016.
Top six reported issues: Fireworks, 755, abandoned vehicles, 217, illegal dumping, 129, graffiti, 122, pothole, 110, encampment, 92.
Source: County of Santa Cruz
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