Jim’s life is one of parking lots. Every day, he moves his 1973 Dodge Sportsman motor home in and out of various lots in and around Burbank, never staying at one spot for too long before moving on again.
At the end of the day, he stays on the periphery of Burbank, where overnight parking of motor homes and RVs is prohibited without a permit, which he says he can’t afford.
Jim, who declined to give his last name for fear of tipping off authorities, has been homeless since 2007, due in part to work-related injuries that makes it difficult to hold down a job. At 56, he must also compete with younger, more tech-savvy job-seekers.
On a recent day, his motor home was among a handful parked at George Izay Park, where Jim uses the senior center facilities.
But soon, it was time to move on.
“The people lucky enough to own homes complain about us,” Jim said. “We try be inconspicuous and park in industrial or business areas to not make people upset.”
Burbank police have seen an increase in the number of motor homes parking at George Izay and in library parking lots — and with it, a growing number of complaints about the vehicles.
Police Officer Kristiana Sanchez, who with two other officers helps address issues associated with the homeless population and those with mental illness, said there’s little they can do as long as the motor homes comply with the overnight parking ban, in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., at the park.
“It isn’t about the people, it’s more about the look of the motor home,” Sanchez said of the public complaints.
Mayor Dave Golonski said he had seen emails about the situation and said it was about balancing everyone’s needs.
“If someone doesn’t have a home and only has a vehicle, they are not necessarily choosing to live in their vehicle,” he said.
Jim, who was born in Glendale and grew up in Burbank, receives a monthly Social Security check. Veterans benefits pay for his medications, but after he pays the insurance for his motor home, phone bill and other expenses, Jim said he’s “broke again.”
Ashlee Jaquette, who lives around the corner from the park, said she wished the motor home drivers would find another spot to park, but was sympathetic to their plight.
“I can’t say anything because I’m a college student, and I’m living here rent-free,” Jaquette, 18, said. “If that’s all that those people can afford right now — the gas and their motor homes —and they can’t afford rent or anything, then so be it.”
For Pat, who also declined to give his last name, living in his motor home was a last resort.
He had to give up his Montrose apartment after a workplace injury with the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2002.
“I still got a lot of years in me to work,” the 53-year-old former executive chef said. “It’s disappointing — I can’t get a job at McDonald’s. I’m overqualified.”
He parks his motor home at a different place every night.
About two months ago he found a note on his motorcycle asking him to not park on the street near the park, Pat said. The note was signed “from the neighborhood.”