Two years ago, North Richland Hills, Texas, officials got a wakeup call that their city presented an unpleasant appearance, according to the Dec. 25 edition of the Star Telegram.  
 A study painted an unflattering picture of Tarrant County’s third-largest city, one where overhead utility lines and concrete drainage channels conveyed a cluttered – even ugly – image.
Since then, officials have taken steps to spruce up the city of nearly 60,000 by cracking down on graffiti and spray painting on sidewalks and approving plans to install decorative lighting as part of street improvements, among other steps.
The improvements at first sparked little or no opposition. But in recent weeks, as the City Council moved to restrict the parking of recreational vehicles in residential areas, some residents grew angry and even started a website to protest the city’s restrictions.
Officials say the restrictions are an investment in the future of North Richland Hills. “We don’t want to wake up one day and find that we look like some of our neighboring cities whose appearance has really declined,” said Councilman Scott Turnage, who declined to say which cities he had in mind.
Supporters of the changes say they are responding to complaints from neighbors concerned about safety issues as well as the appearance of large travel trailers, fifth-wheels and RVs in driveways and in front of houses.
But RV owners believe they have been unfairly singled out.
City officials say the problem is concentrated south of Loop 820, and the restrictions have renewed fears among people in that part of the city who believe they get short shrift from City Hall. Opponents are so mad they’re thinking of forcing an election to recall the City Council and Mayor Oscar Trevino.
There is no recall petition circulated yet, said Bill Jackson, one of the leaders of the opposition. But that is an option if opponents cannot work out a compromise with the city, he said.
“It’s dividing the community,” said Jackson, who parks his 33-foot travel trailer in his driveway and a 17-foot boat on a concrete slab next to his house. To show their anger, scores of owners have shown up at normally sparsely attended council meetings.
Jackie Coe said paying to store his 32-foot travel trailer off site would be a financial burden. “You people are working a hardship on me,” Coe told the council. City officials, surprised by the backlash, are trying to placate opponents.
Trevino said there may be some room for compromise but that he doubts the council will back down on the core issue of restricting recreational vehicles. “For every one person that was up there complaining, you know there’s four people that live around them that are saying, ‘Gosh, I wish that monstrosity wasn’t sitting here,’ ” he said in an interview.
The council initially banned RV parking in driveways of homes and restricted it on streets in front of houses.
After the backlash, the council voted to allow the vehicles to be parked for extended lengths of time in residential areas if owners obtained city permits.
Permits may be granted for two periods of seven continuous days and two periods of two continuous days a year. The permits will be free, with restrictions taking effect in May.
But that did not satisfy owners, who say they support sprucing up the city, but that targeting their recreational vehicles is going too far.
“If it was some old boy that had a back yard full of beer cans, that might be a different story,” resident Bobby McCown said