State should crack down on RV dumping

We sympathize with Dalton Straus, and anyone else who falls victim to people who dump worn-out RVs on other people's property. Police say the problem is growing across the state, but there isn't much that can be done unless the dumpers are caught in the act or identified by others.

Straus, a local rancher, discovered a large travel trailer parked in his driveway on Upton Road near Central Point one morning earlier this week. Someone had pulled the trailer onto his property with a pickup in the middle of the night and left it behind. Now Straus is responsible for having the RV hauled away, which is not as easy as it sounds.

At least this one is a trailer and not a motor home. If it had an engine, that and the transmission would have to be removed and disposed of, for a fee. Appliances and trash also have to be removed. But scrap metal prices aren't what they used to be, so disposing of RVs becomes a costly proposition.

Towing companies agree to be on the rotating list for abandoned vehicles to stay on the rotation for impounding vehicles and responding to crash scenes, because those jobs pay better. But they're not required to remove abandoned vehicles from private land.

The Portland area has experienced an epidemic of lived-in and abandoned RVs on city streets, likely a symptom of the housing crisis plaguing the West Coast. Towing companies say the problem is growing in this area as well.

Old RVs might be a temporary shelter solution, but they eventually become uninhabitable, and are nearly impossible to get rid of, so people resort to dumping them in the dead of night, as someone did on Straus' property. What's worse, that RV was filled with garbage. Police say some people don't want to pay fees at a landfill so they fill an old RV with trash and then dump that.

It's unfortunate that some people choose to dump their problems on unsuspecting property owners. If you are a rural property owner, investing in security lighting and cameras might be a prudent step.

If you see someone leaving an RV where it doesn't belong, report it, and try to get a license number of any vehicle leaving the scene. The only way to attack this problem is to identify those responsible so they can be made to pay for the cleanup. Abandoning a vehicle is a traffic violation, and offenders can be made to pay for towing and disposal.

State lawmakers, who go into session next month, should consider increasing the seriousness of this offense beyond the level of a traffic ticket. If RV dumpers know they could face jail time, they might think twice before unloading their problem on others.

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