CalARVC to Offer Free Sites to Returning Vets?

July 14, 2010 by · Comments Off on CalARVC to Offer Free Sites to Returning Vets? 

CalARVC logoThe board of directors of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) may undertake what it is calling “Operation Reconnect” to help U.S. armed forces upon their return from overseas deployment.

In today’s (July 14) issue of Coffee Talk & Updates, CalARVC outlines its proposal to help the vets returning from active duty.

According to the article, California has thousands of military personnel deployed overseas. When these personnel return home after a year or longer, it is often very difficult for them to “reintegrate” with their family. The military branches have even established a “reintegration” program for these men and women that includes counseling and special services. “Operation Reconnect” would utilize camping as the main tool to help these families reconnect. In addition to providing a valuable service for our military, this activity would also provide valuable elements to our association.soldier

What Operation Reconnect hopes to achieve:

For military personnel:

  • An opportunity to reconnect with their family through an outdoor experience on neutral turf.
  • An opportunity to travel with their families and make discoveries together.

For individual campgrounds:

  • A way to give back to their industry and community.
  • A way to develop new loyal customers and future revenues.
  • A way to gather participation and recognition from their community for a worthy cause.
  • An opportunity to reach the serviceperson’s extended family.
  • An opportunity to do something significant that only a team of parks can accomplish.

For CalARVC:

  • To establish a common goal that CalARVC parks can rally behind.
  • Create positive PR that highlights the value of camping. Both the association and individual parks will benefit.
  • Introduce camping to new families and children to the outdoors.

For Camp-California Marketing:

  • Increased traffic to as stories are posted about soldiers reconnecting with their families.
  • Increased awareness of Camp-California Marketing as the media’s “go to” source for California camping information.
  • Develop relationships with new advertisers and corporate sponsors in a mutually beneficial effort.

Operation: Reconnect – The basic program components:

Donations are solicited from campers and corporate sponsors. These funds are used to host military families at participating RV parks and campgrounds in a rental RV or a park model for a period of one week. The family can choose to stay at a participating park for a full week, or stay at a combination of parks along a route that totals 7 nights.

Procedurally, the newly formed 501(c)3 company will receive requests from qualified military personnel and then facilitate their request matching their needs to available campgrounds and resources.

While discounting or comping your sites is not required to participate, doing so will greatly extend the reach of the program and the contributions received to serve more military families.

CalARVC is surveying its membership to gauge their interest in the proposal.

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California Resort: From Disaster to Success

July 7, 2010 by · Comments Off on California Resort: From Disaster to Success 

One of the luxury cabins at Yosemite Pines RV Resort

One of the luxury cabins at Yosemite Pines RV Resort

When John Croce led a group of investors to purchase Yosemite Pines RV Resort near Groveland, Calif., from a bankruptcy court seven years ago, they had their work cut out for them.

“It was a disaster when we first showed up,” Croce said in a news release. “When we first started to look at this park, it was in foreclosure, receivership and bankruptcy all at the same time.”

To make matters worse, the campground’s previous owner had not only failed to maintain the property and stripped it of its physical assets, but he had double- and triple-booked campsites and cabins to people from across the country and overseas, while pocketing the cash from these bogus reservations.

Croce found out about the previous owner’s misdeeds when he took over the property mid-2003. “We had people showing up with confirmed reservations for cabins that didn’t exist,” Croce said, adding that he spent $15,000 to $16,000 booking campsites and hotel rooms in other facilities nearby so that visitors would not have to suffer the consequences of the previous owner’s misdeeds.

“I remember we had one lady who came from England. She had already paid for a cabin, which didn’t exist. We put her up in a bed and breakfast hotel,” Croce said.

But the problems didn’t stop there. The previous owner also left town owing just about every vendor and utility company money. “The trash people almost threw me out of their office when I first showed up,” Croce said. “The same thing happened with the propane company. They had all been burned by this guy. It took a lot of convincing to explain that we were different.”

But in time, Croce succeeded in doing just that.

They joined the chamber of commerce, sponsored the local parade and other community events and informed everyone in the business community that they had no connection with the previous owner. Croce and his team also set about making more than $2 million in improvements to the park, which included upgrading the electrical and sewer services, renovating the clubhouse, general store and bathhouses, and purchasing 28 park model cabins and eight yurts, which the park uses as rental accommodations for people who don’t have a tent or RV.

As a result of their efforts, Yosemite Pines has re-established positive working relationships with the businesses and service providers in Groveland and surrounding communities, and developed a successful business base that now includes more than 40 tour groups.

“We do a lot of business with the Dutch and the Germans. There are tour groups from Europe that love our park and send groups there all the time. We just had another group come in from India. They were all doctors and attorneys and they rented all of our park models for about a week.”

The park is generating so much business, in fact, that it now generates more online reservations than any other campground in California, according to the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

“Newport Dunes RV Resort beats us in terms of actual revenue generation, but we have the highest actual number of reservations,” Croce said, adding, “On a typical summer day, we probably have 1,000 people at Yosemite Pines.”

The park’s profitability has also increased, with revenue growing more than fivefold from $250,000 during its first year to $1.3 million or more, Croce said.

“We told members of the chamber of commerce that we could bring more people to the Groveland area than any other business in town, which we successfully did,” Croce said, adding that guests at his park patronize local businesses, providing a significant economic multiplier effect for the community as well as tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue.

“We’re real pleased with the success John Croce has had in transforming Yosemite Pines into a true vacation destination,” said Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director.

Sipe added that the private campground industry is attracting growing numbers of investors who are purchasing parks and transforming them into attractive weekend retreats or vacation destinations California residents as well as visitors from outside the state. “Entrepreneurs and investors are increasingly realizing that the campground business is a viable and growing niche within the travel and tourism industry,” Sipe said, adding that the campground industry has been the most resilient segment of the tourism business during the recession.

For more information about Yosemite Pines RV Resort, contact John Croce at (714) 756-2483 or visit his website at

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RVIA & Dometic Oppose California Legislation

July 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

More opposition has emerged to AB 1824, a controversial California bill that would ban the use of holding tank products containing six specific chemicals – bronopol, dowicil, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, paraformaldehyde and paradichlorobenzene.

To date, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., a manufacturer of holding tank chemicals for both the marine and RV markets, had been the only vocal opponent to the proposed legislation.

Now, Dometic Corp., Elkhart, Ind., a Thetford competitor, would specifically like the inclusion of bronopol pulled from the bill, and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has stepped up to oppose the bill in its entirety.

RVIA’s position is apparently similar to that of Thetford’s in that both are asking the state of California for better science – more proof – that these chemicals are fouling up septic systems in the state. Thetford contends that use patterns – the fact that many people often dump holding tanks in a short period of time – is a more serious root cause of septic system problems.

“We do not feel that we have been shown any science that shows that the six chemicals that are being banned are going to address the problem,” said Diane Farrell, RVIA vice president of government affairs. “It seems like a remedy and yet we have not seen the right data pointing us to the problem at hand. California is a leader in the green movement, and one of the premises of that is to get chemicals into the hands of the scientists and this seems to be avoiding that process.”

The bill is moving swiftly, having passed out of both the Senate Toxics and Environmental Quality and Appropriations committees in the last two weeks. Next it goes to the full Senate and then, if it passes, to the California governor’s desk for a signature. Estimates are that that could happen by August or September at the latest.

Meanwhile, one of the most ardent proponents of the bill, the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), is unswayed by RVIA’s opposition and Dometic’s request to pull bronopol from the bill.

“Dometic has put a letter in opposition suggesting that bronopol be pulled from the bill and that is when we had to dig deeper into the science,” explained Debbie Sipe, executive director for CalARVC.

According to Sipe, the California Department of Toxics and Substance Control has looked into this question, but is coming up with inconclusive results. So, CalARVC will continue to support the bill as it stands.

“Fundamentally all chemicals, even green chemicals, have a risk associated with them,” explained Ed McKiernan, Dometic director of development for product sanitation at Dometic’s plant in Big Prairie, Ohio. “When you ban chemicals and just say ‘this is banned,’ you don’t know what all the consequences could be. In the case of this law, one of my biggest fears is that it is going to cause more difficulty and more harm to campground septic systems than if the law didn’t happen.”

In fact, McKiernan claims banning these chemicals, which come from a list assembled 10 years ago by Dr. Katherine Farrell-Poe, PhD, of the University of Arizona, will have virtually no positive effect on the environment.

“The level of bronopol that is used in a 40-gallon tank will virtually have no impact on a septic system based on studies that have been done at sewage treatment plants,” McKiernan explained. “At the time the list was put together it was thought that bronopol was another name for formaldehyde, and it’s not. There has been a lot of research done and it is clearly a different product. Bronopol is a good chemical because it is cost-effective, does a good job of odor control at high temperatures and has very minimal environmental impact.”

McKiernan said RV owners can – and often do – use alternative products that contain ammonium compounds, calcium nitrates or enzymes/bacteriological kinds of additives.

“The difficulty with those three alternatives is there are issues with biodegradability and odor control,” he said. “Nitrates are not removed when they go to the septic tank. They go into the leach field. You are going to be adding more nitrates and causing a bigger problem for the environment.”

Some of the greener products generally don’t work at high temperatures, according to McKiernan, and in the state of California where high temperatures are the norm, he maintained, fighting bad odors could become a way of life for the RV enthusiast.

When you take away products containing bronopol, McKiernan maintained, RV owners will likely start using homemade concoctions containing things like Drano or bleach, which kill all the bacteria in a septic system. “This will have a very negative environmental effect,” he said.

“We want to do the right thing environmentally, but we want to do the right thing by giving the RV owner products that work in high temperatures,” McKiernan added.

McKiernan would like to see California do an in-depth study on bronopol to gain a clearer understanding before passing the bill as it stands.

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California Bill Revives Old Formaldehyde Debate

May 24, 2010 by · Comments Off on California Bill Revives Old Formaldehyde Debate 

CalARVC logoThe California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) has taken an aggressive stance in support of state legislation banning the sale of RV and marine holding tank products containing six chemicals – most notably formaldehyde — on the premise that these substances threaten ground water quality.

That bill (AB 1824) unanimously (73-0) passed out of the full Assembly in mid-May and went to the Senate Toxics and Environmental Quality Committee for a hearing sometime in June.

“This means it is one more hurdle in the process,” remarked CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe, who has been outspoken in advocating the proposed holding tank chemical ban and feels the bill has a good chance of moving through the Senate Appropriations Committee, then the full Senate and, finally, across the California Governor’s desk by August or September.

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director

“We’ve got some strategies to get more support for the bill, but we are not disclosing all of that right now,” Sipe told RVBusiness.

“Toxic chemicals, like those used in many common RV toilet additives, kill the natural bio-organisms and cause the septic systems to fail, causing sewage to seep into surrounding soil and groundwater,” CalTIA legislative advocate Teresa Cooke wrote in a letter to Felipe Fuentes, chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. “AB 1824 will help keep the state’s groundwater clean, and benefit hundreds of small businesses throughout the state, potentially saving them tens of thousands of dollars that would otherwise be spent on repairing or replacing their parks’ septic systems.”

Nineteen chemicals already are banned in state regulations. “AB 1824 will simply clarify that six additional chemicals cannot be used in RV toilet additives for the same reasons as the 19 currently banned,” Cooke said.

Taking a vocal position against the bill is Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., which markets a complete range of RV and marine sanitation products from toilets to waste evacuation systems to holding tank additives, including some affected by the potential ban and some not targeted by California legislation – including an array of third-party-certified, formaldehyde-free Eco-Smart holding tank deodorants and additives.

Kevin Phillips, Thetford. Corp.

Kevin Phillips, Thetford. Corp.

Thetford’s contention is that California’s proposed law is a bit overzealous with regard to formaldehyde-type products and doesn’t take into account some of the general habits of the camping public and the functionality of many septic systems. And the company has been trying to get that message across.

“We are trying to get a broader discussion going about this,” Kevin Phillips, vice president of sales and marketing, told RVBusiness in a recent interview. “This might move very quickly through the legislative process in California and miss the key issues. CalARVC has been dealing with issues around their sanitation systems for years. This goes back decades that they’ve been having struggles with their legislative entities about their septic systems and their wastewater treatment plants.

“From time to time, we’ve been providing them with data, information, resources, and education, trying to help them navigate that problem,” Phillips added. “We are very sympathetic to the issues California campgrounds are facing. We just don’t think the bill they put in place is going to solve those problems.”

The bill puts the focus on deodorants and holding tank additives, and Phillips maintains that that’s not the main issue. “You’re out for a holiday weekend and everybody leaves Memorial Day Monday and they all dump at once,” he explained. “So you get a very large volume of very highly concentrated waste entering the system. These systems are very sensitive to both the organic load and the volume of waste. They also have to be properly maintained. They have to be properly sized, the waste has to be metered in so that it’s not hitting all at once in a short period of time, and you’ve got to monitor these systems.”

Thetford’s Mary Burrows, manager of chemical development, also doesn’t believe that the ban, as proposed, is the answer. “The products we are talking about and the two that are used most predominantly, formaldehyde and bronopol, are actually biodegradable,” she explained. “They don’t exist in a properly functioning system after a period of time.”

Burrows, for her part, suspects that the real issue concerns misuse.

“Eliminating deodorant is not looking at the real problem,” she said. “What they need to address, at least look at and make sure, is that their systems are sized and operated properly so we can verify what the problem is. Again, we need data. Right now there are just assumptions.”

Phillips, on the other hand, agrees that Thetford doesn’t have enough scientific evidence itself to point to the exact problems California campgrounds are facing. “That’s the part we find to be very short-sighted about pushing this bill through so quickly with this one approach,” he countered. “There’s been no data presented, there have been no studies, no analysis that we know of that say that the deodorant actually causes the problems in the systems in these campgrounds.

“What we have seen is some studies that say the septic systems aren’t working,” he added. “We know that people have been cited for that, even though the citations were later removed. But it’s about the outflow of the system, not what’s going into it. That’s what we are saying. This is kind of a rush to judgment, a rush to a conclusion that is a bit unseemly.”

Phillips, in summary, feels that California needs to do more homework and then work together to solve the problems campgrounds are facing. Just how far Thetford gets with that position, however, remains to be seen because Sipe and her allies in this legislative effort apparently aren’t backing off.

“We know there are additional issues with septic systems and that solids are a concern and we hope to be able to work with Thetford in the future,” said Sipe. “But when all is said and done, formaldehyde is a preservative and you don’t want that in a septic system. You don’t want a product that is eating up the natural bacteria in a septic system.”

Sipe says she’s well aware that, along with formaldehyde-based products, Thetford markets “green” holding tank deodorants and additives that are third-party certified as environmentally safe. “Thetford’s two green alternatives are awesome alternatives that folks are using,” she noted. “Camping World recently had a sale on both of these green Thetford products and Thetford’s traditional (formaldehyde) Aqua-Kem. “The Aqua-Kem shelf was mostly full while the green alternative shelf was half empty. There is already a natural movement toward the greener products by the consumer.”

Time will tell what occurs with the current legislation. But Sipe is already planning on life after the ban is passed. “When this bill passes,” she said, “our goal will be to put out huge amounts of education throughout the entire country that these products are not allowed in California.”

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CrossRoads to Donate SlingShot to CalARVC

April 28, 2010 by · Comments Off on CrossRoads to Donate SlingShot to CalARVC 

CrossRoads RV SlingShot

CrossRoads RV SlingShot

CrossRoads RV, Topeka, Ind., will provide the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) with a 2011 Slingshot RV travel trailer to be awarded as a grand prize during the California State Fair in a sweepstakes competition designed to promote camping and RVing.

CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe and CrossRoads RV President Mark Lucas announced the promotion recently during the association’s annual convention and tradeshow in Reno, Nev.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to have a partnership with CrossRoads RV,” Sipe said. “They understand the importance of promoting RV and camping options in California. Our members and the camping public will benefit from this partnership for years to come.”

Lucas said he, too, is excited about the promotion. “The California State Fair is a great opportunity to showcase the family friendly activities available throughout the state and we’re thrilled to have our Slingshot as the grand prize,” he said “Just as camping is accessible to all types of families, this trailer, the lightest in the industry, can be towed by all types of vehicles. There is no need for a special heavy-duty truck because fuel-efficient minivans, small SUVs and crossovers are the perfect tow vehicle for this unit.”

The Slingshot travel trailer to be awarded at the California State Fair will be provided by Happy Daze RV’s in Sacramento. “We think this is a great opportunity. RVing is about spending time with family. It’s also a great way to see California,” said Ronnie Radigan, general sales manager for Happy Daze RV’s.

The CrossRoads Slingshot and other RVs will be on display along with other camping equipment July 24-27  at the California State Fair at Cal Expo in Sacramento.

Campgrounds, RV parks and resorts and travel destinations will also be featured at the fair, which will include a 2,500-square-foot display that shows people how they can camp in different parts of the state. “We’ll have hands on activities, such as geocaching, demonstrations on how to set up a tent and use a Coleman stove as well as classic outdoor games, such as sack races and water balloon tosses,” Sipe said.

Monthly drawings are already being held to determine the semifinalists who will compete for the Slingshot travel travel in the drawing . Other prizes, including free camping opportunities and camping equipment, will also be awarded to contest participants.

For a list of campgrounds and RV parks that are participating in the RVing Rewards! Scratcher Program as well as other rules and restrictions governing this promotion, please visit

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ReV Up in Reno Campground Meeting Begins

April 20, 2010 by · Comments Off on ReV Up in Reno Campground Meeting Begins 

Carolyn Beteta

Carolyn Beteta

Opening day Monday (April 19) saw 110 California campground delegates get off to a good start at the “ReV Up in Reno” RV Park and Campground Western Convention and Trade Show at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nev.

The conference kicked off at noon with Carolyn Beteta, executive director of the California Travel and Tourism Commission and former chairwoman of the U.S. Travel Association, who spoke during the opening lunch.ReV up in Reno 2010 logo

“She did a phenomenal job,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director and CEO for the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC). “There was a lot of great information and two sets of seminars yesterday, followed by our annual meeting.”

The energy is up among those in attendance and everyone is looking forward to today’s events, according to Sipe.

“Today we start with an opening keynote address with Linda Profaizer, ARVC president and CEO, more seminars and then the trade show,” she said. “We’re just getting into the convention itself.”

Tonight there will be a presentation to award the California Stan Martin Award — the recipient of the award will remain unnamed until after the ceremony. The award is given to someone who has contributed greatly to the camping industry in the state of California, and for their overall commitment and passion for the industry.

“So far people are very excited and they are very pleased with the diversity of seminar offerings and the quality of speakers,” Sipe said. “We look forward to hearing from each of them.”

The conference concludes Wednesday.

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SlingShot to be Given Away at California Fair

April 14, 2010 by · Comments Off on SlingShot to be Given Away at California Fair 

The SlingShot built by CrossRoads RV.

The SlingShot built by CrossRoads RV.

Continuing on its drive to get more campers camping, Camp-California Marketing will showcase camping and RVing to over 160,000 attendees at this year’s California State Fair July 14-Aug. 1 at the Cal Expo fairgrounds in Sacramento. Joining it in this endeavor is new partner CrossRoads RV, a subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc.

The Grand Prize Giveaway for Camp-California RVing Rewards Scratcher program will be a CrossRoads RV 2011 Sling Shot RV. The drawing for the grand prize will culminate four days of a 2,500-square-foot camping display highlighting all the activities and destinations California offers campers, according to the current issue of Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates, an e-newsletter of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

This partnership is an offshoot of the partnership between Thor and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) providing ruggedized units to RV parks and campgrounds.

Camp-California Marketing’s CEO, Deb“I can’t tell you how excited we are to have a partnership with CrossRoads RV,” said Debbie Sipe, Camp-California Marketing CEO. “Not only does CrossRoads bring additional income options for our members, they understand the importance of promoting RV and camping options throughout California. Our members and the camping public will benefit from this partnership for years to come.”

Over the course of four days, 160,000 visitors will have the opportunity to explore what camping and RVing are all about. The CrossRoads RV Slingshot trailer, along with other RV models, will be on display along with traditional camping scenes. Sponsors and member RV parks will have the opportunity to showcase their destinations and business. Hands on activities such as geocaching, how to setup a tent,Coleman stove usage, classic outdoor games such as sack races and water balloon tosses will draw visitors into the display.

The grand prize concept is the culmination of our 2009 RVing REWARDS! Scratcher Program, validating the usage of Camp California’s guide, website, and e-newsletter. The prizes drive campers to participating parks to get their chance to win.

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Law Would Ban RV Holding Tank Chemicals

April 7, 2010 by · Comments Off on Law Would Ban RV Holding Tank Chemicals 

CalARVC logoEditor’s Note: The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds(CalARVC) is strongly in favor of recently introduced legislation to ban RV holding tank products that contain several chemicals because they can disrupt septic systems and harm groundwater supplies. The alternative is for consumers to use environmentally friendly holding tank products. This legislation, if approved, could set the stage for similar legislative efforts across the country.

California Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Santa Cruz, has introduced legislation that would force the state to ban the use of six chemicals that have proven to be capable of damaging various types of septic systems while posing significant threats to groundwater supplies.

The legislation, AB 1824, would ban the use of holding tank products containing bronopol, dowicil, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, paraformaldehyde and para-dichlorobenzene, according to a news release.

“We fully support this legislation and think it will encourage businesses to step up their marketing and distribution of environmentally friendly holding tank products in California,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), which has spent the past five years trying to find ways to protect its members’ septic systems and nearby groundwater supplies without forcing private park operators to become “potty police.”

California, in fact, has a blemished record of enforcing holding tank regulations.

In 2005, the State Water Resources Control Board sent cease and desist letters to 25 RV parks and campgrounds in Southern California notifying them that they must not allow RVs to empty waste into their septic systems. In addition, the state closed down at least two state park dump stations. At the same time, the state board was writing new septic system regulations that would make it illegal for RV parks and campgrounds to allow “deleterious or biocide” products to be dumped into septic systems.

“In order to prevent RV parks and businesses from having to play ‘potty police’ with their guests, we asked the California Department of Substance Control to review its 1979 law banning toxic, non-biodegradable chemicals from RV & boat holding tanks,” Sipe said.

After pressing the issue for three years, the Department of Toxic Substances Control sent Sipe a letter in April 2008 confirming that the formaldehyde used in RV holding tank products was prohibited under state law. It took the state agency another nine months to complete a fact sheet explaining the prohibition under the 1979 law, which it posted on its website. Sipe sent copies of the posting to manufacturers and distributors of chemically based holding tank products.

But after a single company disputed the state’s findings, Sipe said the Department of Toxic Substances Control buckled and removed the fact sheet from its website, signaling that it wasn’t serious about enforcing the 1979 law.

Sipe then sent letters to the CEOs of major retailers and distributors of chemically based holding tank products, including Wal-Mart and Camping World, asking them to refrain from selling chemical-based RV holding tank products in California.

Sipe suggested these companies could make a positive statement on this issue by announcing their decision to ban chemically based holding tank products and instead carry environmentally friendly holding tank products before April 22nd 2009, when the nation was to celebrate Earth Day.

No one took her up on the offer.

That may change, however, if Assemblyman Monning’s proposed legislation banning the use of six non-biodegradable chemicals in holding tank products becomes law.

“Perhaps after this legislation is approved,” Sipe said, “companies that market chemically-based holding tank products will see that they have more to gain, economically and otherwise, by marketing and distributing environmentally friendly holding tank products.”

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CalARVC: Enforce State Septic Regulations

March 25, 2010 by · Comments Off on CalARVC: Enforce State Septic Regulations 

CalARVC logoEditor’s Note: This article was written by Don Gilbert, Mike Robson, and Trent Smith on March 1 and appears in the current issue of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) newsletter. It describes the bureaucratic inaction that has befuddled California’s RV park and campground owners for years.

It would be an understatement to say that CalARVC members have been patient with state bureaucrats over their failure to enforce state laws and regulations banning the use of “nonbiodegradable toxic chemicals” in RV toilet additives. We have been working with CalARVC on this issue since the fall of 2005.We are pleased to announce that the Legislature will finally take up the debate, as Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Santa Cruz, has introduced AB 1824  on behalf of CalARVC. The bill defines six chemicals commonly found in RV toilet additives as nonbiodegradable toxic chemicals.


These six chemicals are proven to be detrimental to certain types of septic systems. In 2005 when we first met with representatives from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, neither state department was aware that there was an ongoing  problem with septic systems failing in RV parks because of the chemicals used in RV toilet additives.

We suggested  that the SWRCB address this issue in pending regulations. However, a month or so later we were notified that current  law (passed in 1978) prohibits the use or sale of RV toilet additives if they contain “non-biodegradable toxic chemicals.”

We believed our problem had been solved. However, for almost the next two years we tried to get DTSC or SWRCB to enforce the law, but we were told there was not a problem or that the “other” department had enforcement responsibility.

Next, in April of 2007, a local SWRCB inspector in the Palm Springs area cited over two dozen RV parks and issued notices to park owners to prohibit RV owners from hooking up to the RV park septic systems. The notice stated that RV toilet additives were causing park septic systems to fail and pollute surrounding soil and groundwater.

We were able to get the CalEPA to rescind the notices because they admitted that they had not enforced the prohibited chemical additive law despite the fact that we had requested they do so almost two years earlier!

We considered introducing a bill in 2008 to clarify current law regarding prohibited chemicals. However, we were encouraged by legislators to meet with DTSC once again to see if they would enforce current law. We met with DTSC in February of 2008.

In that meeting they agreed that there was a problem with chemicals used in some products and that they would look into the issue.

In April of 2008, DTSC sent CalARVC a letter agreeing that some chemicals used in RV toilet additives are prohibited under current law. We were pleased with this determination, but we requested that DTSC notify manufacturers and retailers of their conclusion. CalARVC provided DTSC with lists of products, manufacturers and retailers.

Unfortunately, it was not until January of 2009 that DTSC completed a background sheet listing the chemicals prohibited under current law.

These background sheets were sent to manufacturers and retailers.The background sheets were also posted on the DTSC website. In the Spring of 2009, the DTSC notified CalARVC that a product manufacturer disputed DTSC’s analyses and that DTSC was, therefore, pulling their background sheets from their website and would not enforce their findings. We worked further to try to get DTSC to reverse its decision, but they believed the law was unclear with regard to the testing methods and definitions of nonbiodegradable toxic chemicals.

Legislation Needed

We subsequently worked with staff from the Senate Environmental Quality Committee to pressure DTSC to  everse their decision to pull their background sheets. However, after staff talked with the DTSC in late July 2009, it was determined a legislative solution would be necessary.

We have worked for several weeks to draft legislation that would not violate the Green Chemistry Program, a program created under law last year that sets up a panel of scientists to review specific chemicals to determine if they pose a threat to public safety or the environment. The goal of the Green Chemistry program is to head off bills that outlaw specific chemicals without reliable independent scientific evidence supporting the ban.

In previous years the Legislature reviewed dozens of bills focused on banning certain chemicals. It was difficult for legislators, a vast majority of whom do not have science backgrounds, to sort though the competing scientific evidence presented by both the proponents and opponents of the various chemical ban bills. Thus, the Green Chemistry program was created. We believe AB 1824 is narrowly drafted and achieves our goal of eliminating harmful RV toilet additive products from the market without violating the spirit of the Green Chemistry program.

AB 1824 will be heard in its first policy committee in late March.

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California RV Park Occupancy Down 0.6% in ’09

March 17, 2010 by · Comments Off on California RV Park Occupancy Down 0.6% in ’09 

CalARVC logoThe occupancy at private RV parks and campgrounds in California in 2009 was 57.8% or down 0.6% from 2008, according to a study by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

The 2009 occupancy rate was down 2.7% from 2007 and down 4.9% from 2006, making 2009 the lowest occupancy for the past 10 years, CalARVC noted in its current Wednesday Morning Coffee Talk & Updates e-newsletter.

Occupancy was highest in 2005 at 63.8%, followed by 2001 at 63.5%. Statewide occupancy at 57.8% is 0.6% less than the average for the past 20 years. This slip in occupancy is widely attributed to continued high fuel prices and a slumped economy that resulted in many job losses and home foreclosures.

Occupancy decreased in eight regions, with San Francisco showing a 15.4% decline. Monthly regional averages vary in accuracy depending upon which CalARVC members respond in any month resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus two to five percentage points. The error of margin for the statewide averages is one to two percentage points.

Average statewide occupancy increased over last year in six months, and decreased six months resulting in an overall decrease of approximately a half percentage point.

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CalARVC Touts Votes for Travel Promotion Act

February 24, 2010 by · Comments Off on CalARVC Touts Votes for Travel Promotion Act 

CalARVC logoEditor’s Note: The following letter appeared in a current e-mail from the California Associaition of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) to its constituency, urging support for passage of the U.S. Travel Promotion Act.

The U.S. Travel Association has reported that the travel community is on the cusp of final passage of the Travel Promotion Act, the landmark legislation which will for the first time create a public-private partnership to promote travel to the United States. After months of focus on other issues, including health care reform and jobs stimulus legislation, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that final consideration of this important bill is imminent. President Obama also touted the value of the legislation during his comments in Las Vegas this past Friday.

We urge you to please start reaching out to your senators today to ensure that when the bill is brought to the floor they are ready to support it. Speak to them about the immediate need to pass this bill in order to help our economy by attracting new spending, creating new jobs and reducing our national deficit, all at no cost to American taxpayers.

In order to help you make the case, we worked in conjunction with Oxford Economics to develop a new analysis of overseas travel to the United States titled “The Lost Decade,” which shows the failure of the United States to simply keep pace with the growth in international long-haul travel worldwide and how much it has cost our economy:

  • 68.3 million lost visitors, each of whom on average spend well over $4,000.
  • $509 billion in lost spending, including $214 billion in direct spending and $295 billion in downstream spending at restaurants, retailers, and scores of other small businesses.
  • 441,000 lost jobs, direct, indirect and induced,in all regions of the country.
  • $32 billion in lost tax revenue at the federal, state and local levels.
  • $270 billion in lost trade surplus, export funding needed to rebuild our economy.

As you know, the senate passed the Travel Promotion Act in September (S.1023) with a strong bipartisan vote of 79-19. The Travel Promotion Act was then unanimously approved by the House of Representatives in November as part of H.R.1299. Because the legislation creates “revenue” for the federal government, the Constitution requires that the Travel Promotion Act originate in the House. Therefore, the Senate must now take a final vote on H.R.1299.

It’s important that every senator who supported the legislation in September hear again from members of the travel community thanking them for their original vote of support and urging their continued support in the coming weeks for final passage of the legislation.

Your relentless grassroots advocacy for more than two years has moved the United States one giant step closer to its first multi-million dollar, nationally coordinated travel promotion program. Let’s get the job done in the Senate with final passage.

Call or e-mail your senator today and let him/her know that you value their support for the Travel Promotion Act.

Click here to see a list of the 79 senators who supported the act.

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Thor’s Shane Ott to Keynote Campground Event

January 28, 2010 by · Comments Off on Thor’s Shane Ott to Keynote Campground Event 

Shane Ott

Shane Ott

Shane Ott, director of campground relations for Thor Industries Inc., has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for the ReV Up in Reno Western Region Convention and Trade Show April 19-21 in Reno, Nev. The event will be held in John Ascuaga’s Nugget Resort and Casino.

The second annual event is sponsored by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) and other western state campground associations.

ReV up in Reno 2010 logoPrior to joining Thor this past year, Ott was the president and COO of Kampgrounds of America Inc.

Ott’s wide breath of experience in both the campground and RV industries affords him a unique perspective on the past, present and future of RV Parks and campgrounds in the West.

He will address current trends in the RV industry and how these will drive business to – or away from – RV parks and campgrounds.

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Park Trailer Seminar Set for Newport Beach Resort

January 6, 2010 by · Comments Off on Park Trailer Seminar Set for Newport Beach Resort 

CalARVC logoThe California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) reminds manufacturers, suppliers and campground owners located in the West to sign up for its recreational park trailer seminar scheduled for Jan. 13 at Newport Dunes RV and Waterfront Resort in Newport Beach, Calif.

A panel of park owners, operators and vendors will cover these issues:

  • Pros and cons of renting park trailers for vacation use, including marketing, usage policies, housekeeping issues and maintenance.
  • Pros and cons of long-term leases for seasonal/annual use, including marketing, policies on out-buildings, landscaping, age limits and upkeep.
  • How and whether to purchase or lease and financing considerations.

Speakers include:

  • John Pentacost, an attorney with Hart, King & Coldren, who will speak on the state’s eviction law for park trailers.
  • Brad Harward of California Housing and Community Development, who will speak on the state’s laws regulating park trailers, from park trailer design to installation.
  • William Garpow of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), who will provide an update on industry trends, new products and innovations.

The fee is $75 for the first attendee and $65 for each additional attendee.

Lunch will include brief introdutions from the program sponors. A tour of the resort’s park trailers also will be available.

For more information, contact CalARVC at (530) 885-1624.

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Timid U.S. Lenders Stifle RV Park Development

December 14, 2009 by · 1 Comment 


Springs at Borrego resort

Springs at Borrego resort

As winter approaches, campsites quickly fill up at The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in eastern San Diego County, Calif.

The 90-site low desert resort, located minutes from the scenic grandeur of Anza Borrego State Park, is a popular winter nesting ground for Snow Birds from all over the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

“We would love to build another 110 sites and think we could do so for about $1.2 million,” said Dan Wright, the park’s general manager.

Trouble is, Wright can’t get a loan. “Everyone we have talked to tells us that financing for RV park construction and development is non-existent at this time,” said Wright, who also serves as president of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).

The problem isn’t limited to RV parks and resorts. Despite the billions of dollars in bailout funds that the Bush and Obama administrations have provided to the banking industry during the past year to make credit more available, bank financing remains difficult for any small business to obtain, according to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged the problem last month in a widely quoted speech to the Economic Club of New York, in which he stated that banks’ continuing reluctance to lend is “limiting the ability of some businesses to expand and hire,” effectively delaying the nation’s economic recovery.

From Wright’s perspective, the banks’ unwillingness to lend to profitable businesses is costing millions in lost revenue, not only for his business, but for the community of Borrego Springs, whose restaurants, stores and fuel stations depend to varying degrees on the snowbirds who spend the winter at his RV resort.

“We track every reservation request that we cannot fill,” Wright said. “Since the beginning of 2008, we have turned away over 8,000 nights’ worth of business due to a shortage of campsites. But even with numbers like these, lenders still can’t bring themselves to provide us with a loan. It makes no sense.”

Ken Jeffries, one of the owners of Angels Camp RV & Camping Resort in Angels Camp, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is facing a similar scenario. The park, with 63 RV sites, 14 tent sites, five cabins and a camp office and store, is in desperate need of expansion to accommodate growing numbers of camping enthusiasts. In fact, between Jan. 1 and July 29 of this year, the park had to decline 513 nightly reservations for lack of space, Jeffries said. But despite the obviously strong demand for campsites at the park, the owners have not been able to obtain even a relatively small loan.

“We need $50,000 to put in 19 more campsites, but the banks are real tight for some reason,” Jeffries said. “The interest rates are down, but they won’t loan any money. Of course, it doesn’t do any good to have low interest rates if they won’t loan the money. I feel the small business man is being squeezed terribly.”

Frustrated with the lack of credit, Jeffries and his partners are paying for his park’s expansion on their own. “We’re taking the money out of our own pocket and are doing the expansion ourselves,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do this, but we have no choice. We’re losing business by not expanding our park.”

Harriette Groth, co-owner of SunBasin RV Park in Ephrata, Wash., said she also is losing business because she has not been able to obtain the $350,000 to $450,000 in loans she needs to make needed improvements to her park. She’d like to put in more campsites, create more pull-through sites, and build a new bathhouse and showerhouse, but can’t find lenders willing to refinance her existing loan and provide her with capital for improvements, let alone provide her with a second loan for improvements. As a result, her improvements are limited to relatively minor cosmetic improvements, such as new signage and landscaping.

John Grant, owner of Park Brokerage Inc., a San Diego company that specializes in RV park sales, said the scarcity of loans is hard for RV park and campground operators to swallow, particularly given the resiliency of the camping business during the recession. “All businesses need access to capital to expand, to improve their facilities. But there’s just no commercial real estate capital available for RV parks and campgrounds,” he said.

Ed Mayer, who has developed four successful RV resorts in Florida in the past six years using the Elite Resorts of America brand name, said he is now seeking financing from private investment groups after failing to obtain loans from conventional lenders. “Everybody is scrambling to find money,” he said. “I’ve dealt with small banks, medium banks and large banks and I’m getting the same answer across the spectrum.”

Mayer said many lenders simply have no experience working with the RV industry and don’t want to take any chances investing in a market segment with which they have little or no experience, despite the financial successes RV parks and resorts have enjoyed throughout the recession. He conceded, however, that while there are many successful, high quality RV parks and resorts across the country that are worthy of loans, there also continue to be sizeable numbers of neglected parks. “Some RV parks are in the hands of people trying to get out of the industry and they’ve allowed their parks to deteriorate,” he said.

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CalARVC Seminar Looks at Park Trailer Industry

December 4, 2009 by · Comments Off on CalARVC Seminar Looks at Park Trailer Industry 

CalARVC logoThe California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) will sponsor a day-long seminar titled “Everything & Anything You Need to Know About Park Trailers” Jan. 13 at Newport Dunes RV & Waterfront Resort in Newport Beach, Calif.

A panel of park owners, operators and vendors will cover these issues:

  • Pros and cons of renting park trailers for vacation use, including marketing, usage policies, housekeeping issues and maintenance.
  • Pros and cons of long-term leases for seasonal/annual use, including marketing, policies on out-buildings, landscaping, age limits and upkeep.
  • How and whether to purchase, lease and financing considerations.

Speakers include:

  • John Pentacost, an attorney with Hart, King & Coldren, who will speak on the state’s eviction law for park trailers.
  • Brad Harward of California Housing and Community Development, who will speak on the state’s laws regulating park trailers, from park trailer design to installation.
  • William Garpow of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), will provide an update on industry trends, new products and innovations.

The fee is $75 for the first attendee and $65 for each additional attendee.

Lunch will include brief introdutions from the program sponors. A tour of the resort’s park trailers also will be available.

For more information, contact CalARVC at (530) 885-1624.

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