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As Bozeman eyes ordinance to curb urban camping, Belgrade officials say its city rules 'working pretty well'

Belgrade Parking .jpg
Posted at 7:58 PM, Sep 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-19 13:46:22-04

BOZEMAN — As the City of Bozeman is considering creating a parking ordinance of its own this week, we came over to the city of Belgrade, which recently this year passed its own parking ordinance to see how theirs is working.

“The current mood and feeling is that it's working pretty well. Obviously, we pay very close attention to our neighbor,” says Belgrade City Manager Neil Cardwell.

At the beginning of the year, Belgrade city leaders shortened the length of time a vehicle can be parked on city streets.

“We reduced the number of days that vehicles are allowed to remain parked in a singular spot on city streets. We reduced that from five days to three,” says Cardwell.

Belgrade city leaders say the rapid population growth was causing vehicles to remain on city streets.

“A problem that we were having with a lot of construction trailers and camping trailers that were being left on the street for weeks and weeks on end,” says Cardwell. “And it was very difficult for our code enforcement and police officers to be able to address those situations.”

In the nine months since the city passed the ordinance, Belgrade Police have issued more than 800 parking citations; the civil penalty costs residents $20.

“So far, it's worked pretty well for us. We were able to clear out a lot of abandoned vehicles that had collected throughout city streets,” says Cardwell.

While the propopsed Bozeman parking ordinance would curb urban camping on city streets, Belgrade’s ordinance forbids it.

“The large difference between Belgrade and Bozeman is that Belgrade's ordinance has never and currently does not allow for you to. If you are parking a camper on the street, you cannot live at it,” says Cardwell.

Belgrade’s city manager says their ordinance does not allow camping on city streets, but they do allow people to camp in driveways for up to one year with a homeowner's permission.

“There are some rules and regulations with that, like you're not allowed to connect up to the city sewer system when you do that. So, you have to give us some sort of proof or documentation of how you're going to take care of the sanitary issues of living in an RV,” says Cardwell.

The Bozeman City Commission is scheduled to vote on the parking ordinance Tuesday night.