‘Captain RV’ Wages Battle Against Parking Ban
The mercury was climbing on a recent afternoon in downtown Antioch, Calif., but Captain RV was barely breaking a sweat. Sporting a captain’s hat and cape, and chatting up people as they stopped to read his graffiti-embellished truck, the Antioch resident said there were other places he’d rather be – but fighting for freedom and fair play are keeping him on the job.
According to the Antioch Press, Captain RV – aka Chris Valenta – spends the greater portion of each day driving around Antioch in protest of the city’s proposed crackdown on recreational vehicles in residential driveways. That controversial issue will be decided by Antioch residents at the ballot – just when has yet to be decided. But the Captain has already begun campaigning in support of allowing boats, motorhomes and trailers to be visible from the street.
Carrying a neon-orange sign with slogans such as “Keeping people together is more important than RV/boat pretty” and “Stop discrimination,” Valenta has become the caped crusader of the pro-RV people, albeit an occasionally reluctant one.
“I’m pissed I have to do this,” said Valenta. “I have children and an aging grandmother to care for, but our freedom is important, too. They cannot take our freedoms and rights away from us.”
The retired semiconductor engineer has vowed to picket the streets of Antioch until the city council changes its stance on the RV controversy, or the issue is decided at the ballot. Valenta contends the whole issue could simply go away if city officials would see reason.
“What I want is for the council to stop the vote, and I want them to go along with the findings of the subcommittee,” said Valenta, a member of that now-defunct subcommittee. “We had it all hashed out, and the only thing we couldn’t agree upon was the number of vehicles allowed, but we believed two was appropriate.
“But they were just testing us; they had no intention of agreeing to our findings. They knew, and we knew, it was going to fail. It’s all political.”
Valenta acknowledges that the Captain RV persona might be a little over the top, but drastic times call for drastic measures. And so far, he said, the reception from residents has been overwhelmingly supportive.
“The only way to fight crazy is with crazy,” he said. “And sure, this is a little extreme, but people are more important than ‘pretty,’ or the blight the city says is created by the RVs. I’m a boat owner and a good neighbor. People can take care of these issues themselves.”
But not all RV owners agree with the Captain’s tactics. Michele Kuslits, president of the Recreational Vehicles and Property Rights Alliance and a former cohort of Valenta on the pro-RV side of the issue, has rejected the Captain’s approach to the problem.
“I respect and admire what Chris is doing,” said Kuslits. “But he’s doing it a little differently than the way we want to go. His way is not our way, but we all want the same things. Our property rights are not up for a vote, and people are understandably angry. I do have to admit, though, he’s got guts.”