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Guidelines for Overnight Parking in Towns
Guidelines for spending the night in towns, compiled by the forum moderators:

Overnight Parking in Towns Guidelines

A few businesses such as Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Flying J Truck Stops, casinos, and Cabelas actively welcome overnight parking in their lots. Unfortunately some cities have ordinances that prohibit sleeping in a vehicle within city limits so these same businesses may have signs prohibiting overnight parking. Other possible overnighting spots include big box stores, 24 hour fitness centers, 24 hour grocery stores, hospitals, and on the street near apartment complexes and in industrial areas. This practice is typically for one-night stays while traveling from one point to another.  But if you must stay for more than one night, rotate among several spots. 

Research a city before parking overnight to judge the level of enforcement of overnight parking laws to avoid ticketing and fines. 

Stay as unobtrusive as possible even when a businesses is welcoming to overnighters. Do not do anything that could call attention to the fact that you are living in a vehicle. Local residents may be uncomfortable with this lifestyle and local business owners may see it as detrimental to their own businesses.

Park on the far edges of parking lots away from main traffic lanes.

Arrive late and leave early.  If you are staying in a town for a long time find more than one spot and rotate through them.

Do not set up anything outside. 

Avoid using slide outs if possible.

Do not dump gray or black water or allow holding tanks to leak.

Do not run a generator if you're parking in a residential neighborhoods.

If you must use leveling jacks put pads or boards under them to avoid damaging parking lot asphalt. 

Do not deposit large amounts of trash in business trash cans.

Pick up after your pets. Be kind to the landscaping crews.

Patronize the local businesses if possible.
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The following 11 users say Thank You to VanDwellerMod for this post:
GeorgiePorgie (12-27-2017), Gardenias (09-29-2017), Tulsatraveler (08-04-2017), dr_nelson (07-05-2017), ChickadeeJP (07-05-2017), Kenwrite (06-16-2017), jimindenver (05-15-2017), Thirsty Boots Nomad (05-15-2017), theinfamousj (05-11-2017), gargoyle (05-09-2017), ArtW (05-09-2017)
This and the boon docking post are great, are they stickys? they should be
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Thanks. Yes, both were made stickies.
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How do you research a city? I had no idea that people were getting tickets for being asleep in a parked vehicle. Isn't being asleep in a parked vihicle better than falling asleep while driving?  - Crofter
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For researching a particular town, I use

From their 'Drivers' section I take a look at the WalMarts...if all of the WalMarts in a city show that there is no overnight parking I can pretty much assume that it's the town restrictions that are in place and being enforced.

Check the reports that people file for those stores and you'll find out what's going on.

I'm parked right now in a W/M that has 3 hour parking signs posted....BUT, it's pretty evident from the reports on Allstays and from the number of overnighters in the parking lot that this store doesn't want or encourage the town to enforce it. The other store is downtown and I wouldn't stay there.

Keep in mind that I try really hard to only stay where I'm welcome - I've never even tried to park on city streets or overnight at the beach in a large city.
Worry is a misuse of imagination!
Build link:
Full-timer again as of November 24, 2015 - 14 glorious years on the road before that!

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The following 2 users say Thank You to Almost There for this post:
Gardenias (09-29-2017), cyndi (05-15-2017)
Like Almost There I use the Walmart reviews on Allstays as my main resource. Here's an example of a city that really cracks down on RV parking -        This level of enforcement is rare but checking first could save you from getting a $100.00 ticket.

  If I'm more concerned I'll google " overnight RV parking on city streets in (name of city)"  even though we rarely park on city streets. This search brings up links that will give you an idea of the number of people  permanently living in RVs in the city and what the city is doing to curb any problems which could be fines, banning parking during certain hours, or banning oversize vehicle parking on any street at any time. The restrictions may apply to anyone sleeping in any vehicle. One of our members got a ticket while sleeping in his SUV on a street even though it seemed safe because other people were sleeping there too.

  Getting ticketed is rare. Most of the time you'll just get a warning and a request to leave.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to tonyandkaren for this post:
cyndi (05-15-2017)
(05-15-2017, 09:54 AM)tonyandkaren Wrote: ............ I'll google " overnight RV parking on city streets in (name of city)" ........
I just googled Va Beach and saw the city code. I knew about having to keep rv's parked behind the line of a structure but the 3hr time limit for street parking surprised me, especially since this is a major tourist destination. Guess they want the visitors in all the hotels here rather than in rv's. 

City Code Section 16-41.2 – Major recreational equipment and non-commercial trailers parked or stored in residential areas are subject to the following limitations:

  • Major recreational vehicles and non-commercial trailers shall be parked or stored within an enclosed building or behind every plane of a structure that is substantially parallel to and facing the public right-of-way. Such equipment may be parked in a driveway or approved parking area for a period not to exceed 24 hours for loading and unloading. 

  • Through lots; such equipment must be parked or stored on the portion of the lot that  is clearly and physically the rear of the lot provided that it is substantially screened from the public right-of-way with a six-foot solid fence or equivalent  vegetation or landscaping.

  • Corner lots; such equipment may also be parked or stored on the portion of the lot that is clearly and physically the rear of the lot and behind the plane of the house parallel and closest to the public right-of-way.

  • No recreational equipment shall be in any public street or public right-of-way for more than three hours.

  • No such equipment shall be used for living, sleeping or housekeeping purposes except in locations lawfully established for such use.
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I'm sure many of the members here are already familiar with this 2015 article on stealth parking from Truck Camper magazine, but it's a goodie worth including here: Stealth Camping With A Truck Camper
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The following 2 users say Thank You to CityWoman for this post:
Vagabound (07-05-2017), mayble (07-05-2017)
Here's one I learned with my car in the town I had lived in for a few years:

They don't have to have no overnight parking signs on every street to still give you a ticket. There were signs for no overnight parking on a few of the main ways into town but some were overshadowed by trees or just became part of the scenery after driving by them so many times. I had a double respiratory infection, a big snowfall that prevented my from getting back in my sloped driveway, a small child, and my dad was out of town so he wasn't able to help with the driveway. After going to urgent care, I triple checked the street closest to my house that had parking and the street had already been plowed, before parking there. Woke up to a ticket the next day. I had no idea that there was no overnight parking allowed on any of the side streets by houses. I was able to find the city website and dug around until I found the information. So, even small towns often have a city website, cut costs of putting up clear signage (I'm used to Chicago and Denver where every block is clearly marked), and it's best to check a million ways before parking your vehicle anywhere.
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I have fought parking tickets like that and won. Of course, the way they get you is that almost always the time and effort to fight the ticket is more costly than just paying it.
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