Dear Senator Gardner,
While I am sure you meet with many people and have no reason to recall me specifically, I’ve flown to Washington on two separate occasions and met with you (once in 2018 and once in 2019). My name is Dana Nelsen, and I own the largest trade magazine in the country for the recreational vehicle industry. I met with you in your office last year as part of the RVs Move America effort that our $60 billion industry does each year. As you may recall, our industry represents more than 2 percent of the U.S. GDP. Over 200 business executives from companies from every state storm capitol hill to make our senators and representatives aware of issues impacting our industry.
I elected to meet with you during those efforts because my business is in Louisville, Colorado, under your jurisdiction.
I wanted to write you about two issues related to the coronavirus that are certainly impacting people in Colorado as well as all areas of the United States. Heck, maybe you would even be willing to share my letter with others in Washington (whomever you think is appropriate) to get this addressed.
My hope is to increase your awareness of the issue and see if you would have an interest in helping with this problem. I also want to ask for your personal advice on things business leaders like me and countless others in the RV industry can do to help with the problem I am about to relate to you.
With far more than 9 million RVs on the road today, a good number of RV owners are full-time RVers, meaning they live in their RVs all year long. Many of them spend a good amount of time in Colorado, but proportionately, also spend time in what amounts to every other state in the U.S.
These RVers live in their RVs. The RV is their home. What we are seeing is local city, county and state government bodies have declared that parks & campgrounds are non-essential businesses. Why is that a problem for people living in their RV full-time?
Well, people who live in their RVs are being told they must leave the campgrounds they are in because of government proclamations dictating that the campgrounds are non-essential and must close.
The full-time RVers pull out of the campground wondering where they can now go, where they can park their RVs and live for the duration of mandated business shutdowns due to the coronavirus. Some are driving the nation’s highways and parking at interstate rest areas, moving from one to the next, merely because campgrounds where they may have lived (for a month or quarter of the year) have forced them to leave. They have become transient as a result of the coronavirus and government mandates to close non-essential businesses.
Please know that these full-timer RVers are perfectly capable of staying in their RV/home and self-quarantining and following best practices put out by the CDC for however long is necessary if they have a place to park their RVs in a campground.
Senator Gardner, here is the irony: these proclamations are doing the exact opposite of what they are intended to do. They are forcing an estimated 1 million people to travel and move from place to place daily. They are driving, searching for a place to park and camp. It is actually working against flattening the curve by forcing people to travel who otherwise wouldn’t.
We need city, county, state and federal governments to universally not mandate that RV parks close.
How do we do inform city councils, town mayors, county officials and state governors nationwide of this unintended consequence?
It truly is beyond me on how we go about something of this scale, and so I am asking for your help. Is this something you could help with from the top down? Do you have advice on how to communicate nationwide to governments of all sizes the unintended impact that RV parks not being listed as essential businesses has on potentially expanding the spread of the coronavirus?
I’d like to bring up another related issue that is of equal import. Like residential homes, RVs have complex systems. They have water systems, power (electrical and propane) systems and sewer systems. When you grasp that there are literally millions of RVs in use, you must understand that RVs occasionally break.
Imagine if your home’s sewer system had a problem or if your house suddenly had no power. These could both quickly lead to a very nasty, unlivable environment. I’m sure you would call a company to have someone immediately come fix problems like these in your home.
The same is true for RVers. The issue is that an RV, while similar, is also very different from a stationary home. RV dealerships and RV repair shops employ people with specialized skills to fix an RV’s special systems. They are who an RVer calls to “get their house fixed.”
Again, RV dealerships and repair shops in many areas are not listed as essential businesses. They need to be. The same problem I mentioned above for campgrounds exists with getting all areas of government to be aware that RV dealerships and repair shops need to be listed as essential businesses.
As an example, if an RVer has a sewer problem and can’t find a local place to fix it, they will not sit in their RV breathing in or walking through sewage. They will drive to wherever is open for business to immediately get that kind of problem fixed. Will they drive to another state with less stringent mandates? Absolutely!
Forcing people to needlessly travel at this time works against what our nation is trying to do to combat this virus. RV dealerships and repair shops play a vital role in helping people do their part to stay at home and flatten the curve.
Potentially millions of RV consumers need to be able to get their units fixed by traveling as little as possible to do so. We need your and others’ help to get RV dealerships and repair shops listed as essential businesses. This is just as important as having RV campgrounds also listed.
Can you help with these issues?
RV News Magazine