Proposal to ban RV camping in Anchorage parking lots dropped after outcry

Anchorage Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson said she's dropping a proposed ban on parking lot "camping" that triggered a widespread outcry last month.

Gray-Jackson said she personally received more than 150 emails about her proposal, almost all negative. She said the number of phone calls on the issue were among the most she's received since she was elected.

"Based on the outcry, and the comments from the community as a whole, I am not going forward with this," Gray-Jackson said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's done."

Gray-Jackson's proposal — a draft version of which was presented at a February Assembly committee meeting, but was never formally introduced — would have banned the popular tourist practice of RV camping in the parking lots of Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer. Gray-Jackson said she was hoping to curb multiday stays in commercial lots and was concerned about aesthetics and declining business for RV parks.

The proposal also sought to license camping parks for recreational vehicles and require health and safety inspections.

In Alaska, where the practice of sojourning overnight in an RV in the parking lot of a big-box store is a common rite, the proposal struck a nerve — more than 620 comments appeared on an Alaska Dispatch News story about the proposal.

One RV camper emailed from Oklahoma to say if the ordinance passed, he and his family would be spending "less time and money in Anchorage than in the past."

During an Assembly candidate forum last week, Assembly Chair Dick Traini, who initially supported the measure, called it "ill-advised and ill-timed."

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.