Four Sisters Vineyards and Four Lanterns Winery were among the Harvest Hosts locations that voiced their plea to keep the platform running in San Luis Obispo County on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
“A one-night self-contained RV parking with no charge, no hookups, no fire, no water, no pollution, no campsites, no campfires, no stoves, no flames, no sewage dumping, there are no tents,” explained Serena Friedman, the co-owner of Four Sisters Ranch.
Harvest Hosts connects an RV camper with a location with no direct payment to the host but rather, an annual membership with the platform
“It does bring in money because people want to come, they want to taste the wine, they want to enjoy the area, so that’s a perk,” said Jackie Gleason, the owner of Four Lanterns Winery. “What we found over time is that people come and return to visit the area.”
The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building told KSBY News last week that 15 to 20 businesses and residences in the last quarter have received notice of violation letters for allegedly advertising their properties as a commercial campground.
“Personally, we only have one to two campers because I don’t want to have too many people in our community,” said Gleason.
Several residents brought up concerns about a different online platform that connects campers with host locations called Hipcamp.
“They had campfires and we’re talking about a very dry season in Cambria, and I can guarantee you I went to the fire department, they didn’t know what to do; I called the sheriff, they didn’t know what to do because it was all on private property,” said Karen Pearson, who lives in Cambria.
Visit SLO CAL also brought up the lack of payment of transient occupancy taxes by Hipcamp.
“However, they do receive the benefits of our marketing and destination development and stewardship provided by (Visit) SLO CAL but are not contributing to the county or our efforts,” said Tracy Campbell, Visit SLO CAL’s vice president of Community Engagement and Advocacy.
Regarding Hipcamp, because the county does have a rural camping ordinance, the idea of a simplified process for permitting will be discussed at a later time.
But Harvest Hosts users have something to look forward to in 2023.
“This board would like to get that off our plate because it is so simple; the only matter is how many RVs can be approved,” said SLO County Supervisors’ chair Bruce Gibson. “Let me suggest to my colleagues that we propose that staff start analyzing three with additions or subtractions depending on the size of the approved parking lot.”
The San Luis Obispo County Code Enforcement Supervisor Cynthia Alm said that all of the code violations that were sent to Harvest Hosts locations are still being considered for enforcement action.
“No extensions or permission to disregard County ordinances, State and or Federal Laws have been provided to property owners regarding active violations of County Code,” added Alm via email.
The board of supervisors will listen to and discuss this proposal during their first February meeting.