COVID-19 Update: Private Campgrounds, RV Parks, and Lodging

Private Campgrounds and RV Park Reopening; Board of Supervisors Meeting to Discuss Lodging Postponed

MONO COUNTY, Calif. (May 28, 2020) – The Mono County Board of Supervisors’ Special Meeting to discuss lodging originally scheduled for Friday, May 29th at 9:00 a.m. has been canceled.  This cancelation does not affect the release of guidance by the Mono County Health Officer regarding the reopening of private campgrounds and RV parks in Mono County, effective Friday, May 29th.

During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Acting County Administrator Bob Lawton agreed with an interpretation made by Inyo County that the reopening of private campgrounds and RV parks is not prohibited by current State orders, and that with the recent rescission of Mono County’s local orders, private campgrounds and RV parks may now reopen, subject to public health guidance.  The Board agreed that reopening, with modifications, should occur effective Friday, May 29th.  The proposed timeline allowed for the State to respond with any specific guidance or concerns, and provided private campgrounds and RV parks with a few days to prepare for reopening. 

The State of California is expected to modify the Governor’s Shelter-in-Place Executive Order in the near future to allow some commercial camping in order to mitigate the adverse effects of increasing unregulated camping on public lands in areas like the Eastern Sierra.  Those campground operators who choose to reopen prior to the approval of the California Department of Public Health and without accompanying guidance are reminded that all businesses must follow COVID-19 related county and state regulations, including the creation of a pandemic reopening plan and self-certification (accessed here).

In addition, Mono County Health Officer Dr. Tom Boo provided additional interim guidance in an order issued today (accessed here), restricting campground operators from advertising, and limiting campground capacity to 75 percent of normal, pending the expected guidance from the state, which may be released next week.

In addition to the discussion about private campgrounds and RV parks, Board of Supervisors Chair Stacy Corless (District 5) proposed the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee (Committee) consisting of Supervisor John Peters (District 4) and Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz (District 1) charged with the development of a strategic plan for reopening lodging within Mono County.  Following Board consent to establish the Committee and return to the Board on Friday, May 29th to present a plan, County Counsel Stacey Simon advised Supervisor Peters to seek advice from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regarding a potential conflict of interest related to his personal employment in the local lodging industry.  Supervisor Peters has reached out to the FPPC, which has advised that, unless a specific exception applies, Supervisor Peters would be prohibited from working or voting on a lodging plan.  Supervisor Peters, with assistance from County Counsel, is currently assessing the applicability of the exception.  A final decision is expected within the week. 

At the regular meeting on Tuesday, June 2 at 1pm, the Board of Supervisors will continue discussion and possible action related to the COVID-19 crisis response. The Board understands the importance and urgency of providing county business owners and community members with a plan to reopen lodging and to continue economic recovery during the COVID-19 crisis. The meeting agenda and details will be available here.

California’s stay-at-home order is still in effect, and non-essential travel should be avoided in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  A complete list of private and public campgrounds can be accessed here.  Campers are advised to check with individual campgrounds regarding reopening plans prior to making arrangements or reservations.