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'I don’t want to be stereotyped': Man living in his RV adjusting to Bozeman's urban camping ordinance

“I think we’re all going to have to leave town and find a better place to live,” said Armando Arrieta. “Somewhere affordable, somewhere we’re all welcome.”
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Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 30, 2024

BOZEMAN — It’s been more than four months since an ordinance went into effect that prohibits urban campers from staying in one place for more than 30 days in the City of Bozeman. This time last year, campers were lined up bumper-to-bumper on Equestrian Lane—today, it looks a lot different.

“I think we’re all going to have to leave town and find a better place to live,” said Armando Arrieta. “Somewhere affordable, somewhere we’re all welcome.”

Arrieta moved to Bozeman from Tucson, Arizona in 2019 with high hopes and a job lined up for him.

“I mean, it’s beautiful out here. I’ve never seen anything like it in the world,” said Arrieta.

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For over a year, Arietta has lived out of an RV. He says his life is by no means perfect, but he still considers himself fortunate.

“Very fortunate,” said Arietta. “It’s not much, what I have, but it’s mine and I’ve earned it.”

On Nov. 24, 2023, Ordinance 2147 went into effect. This left Arrieta and other folks adjusting to a new set of rules.


See More Urban Camping Coverage from MTN's Jolee Sallee


The ordinance requires people sleeping in trailers or RVs to move every 30 days and prohibits them from parking RVs near homes, parks, schools, daycares, or within 100 feet of the entrance to a business.

People must keep all their belongings inside their trailer or RV when not actively using them and allow city officials to issue fines of up to $25 after three warnings.

A big adjustment, Armando says, and inconvenient.

“I think a big issue is our neighbors,” said Arrieta. “Our neighbors seem to not feel safe for some reason and I don’t want to be stereotyped.”

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Arrieta admits while being a part of the urban camping community he’s seen folks struggle with drug use and mental illness.

“I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Arietta. “It’ll be tough for the people living in trailers.”

But even so, he remains hopeful for change—one day.

“Without hope we have nothing,” said Arietta. “I wish the best for all of us, from us who live in RVs to people who live in houses.”