Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Peter H. von Oppel is mistaken, the point of free overnight parking at Wal-Mart is not lost on me (Our Readers Write, Nov. 21.) The very idea that Wal-Mart is providing a service to people on the move is laughable. It costs money to travel. It's not as if a bunch of homeless people set up camp while looking for work. What I see are expensive recreational vehicles and second-homes on wheels parking overnight in a tourist-town free of charge.
If they are too cheap to pay for an overnight camping spot, they are probably too cheap to legally dispose of waste water at an approved commercial facility. Let them pay to stay here just like anyone else; full time residents, seasonal residents and overnight visitors. Go to a hotel, stay at a state park, visit family and friends or drive to an outlying Gorge community if Hood River has no vacancies.
Conservatively, there are 50 recreational vehicles parked in Wal-Mart's parking lot every night during warm months (June through September). Private facilities charge at least $20 per night, times 50 vehicles, times 120 days equals $120,000 in lost revenue. So, you see, I do understand the point of free overnight parking at Wal-Mart. It is a blatant abuse of Hood River city ordinances already on the books.
If Wal-Mart wants to be a camping grounds, I say fine, so long as they follow the same rules as any other private facility.