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Old 04-05-2016, 01:35 PM   #1
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The Latest Saga with the California DMV

I have been putting this off because I know it will just raise my blood pressure, but here goes. First, let me tell you about our experience trying to license our trailer at the DMV. Then, stay tuned for a short rant and a ray of hope.

On our way back from Canada, we thought we would be smart and avoid our big Bay Area DMV. We stopped on a Thursday in Crescent City to find that it is closed for Cesar Chavez day. Evidently the rest of the world missed the memo, because no other business is closed. Oh well. You can’t fight City Hall. We drive on.

On Friday, we stop in Garberville, CA. Sure enough it is a small office with just two ladies working. Looks hopeful! I take my number and begin to fill out the application for registration. When my number is called, I am not quite finished filling in all the boxes.

I walk up to employee #1 and explain that I need to register an imported trailer. I hand her the paperwork that ETI said I would need.

“Where is the registration,” she says.
“The registration?”
“Yes. I can’t register it without the registration.”

I am baffled. I tell her I was told the papers I had were what was needed. She shuffles them around and looks confused. Employee #2 rescues her. She sees the import paper and says, “It’s okay.”

Great, I think. Here we go!

Employee #1 takes my application, looks it over, and discovers that two of the boxes are empty. (This is partly because I am unsure what is meant by the questions.)

“You’ll have to finish filling out the form and come back.”

I step out of line and try to make sense of the government lingo. I take my best guess and fill in the boxes. I wait for another turn. Thankfully, the window that opens up next is for employee #2. She looks at me, then at the clock. It is 11:15.

“I can fill this out but we don’t do inspections after 11:30. You’re not gonna make it. We go to lunch from 12:00-1:15. You can come back after that.”

I look at her pleadingly but manage to keep it together.

“Okay.”

She pounds on the keyboard a couple of minutes, takes my debit card and extracts $2889 from my checking account. She looks again at the clock.

“Where are you parked?” she asks.
“Right there,” I say. You can see it through the window.”
“We don’t do inspections on the street.”
“Oh.”

Long pause… She offers no solution. In spite of what has been going on in my head, I have managed to remain friendly through the whole process. It pays off. She takes pity.

“You can pull in the driveway to the north. There is a place to turn around behind the building. Meet me out there.”

Wow! We’re gonna get registered!

She meets us on the side of the building, clipboard in hand. All is well until she can’t find the VIN number stamped on the frame.

“I can’t license this without the VIN stamped on the frame.”

I call ETI. Tammy assures me that there is no law requiring that the VIN be stamped on the frame. Dozens of trailers have been registered in California without the VIN stamped on the frame. It does not matter. Employee #2 won’t budge. But she has an idea: I can drive to the local CHP and they will do the inspection. When they approve it, I can return and finish up with her.

Huh? If the law is that the VIN must be stamped on the frame, why is it okay for the CHP to break the law and approve it? Whatever. We drive to the CHP. Their inspector is only in on Tuesdays (this is a Friday.) We are done in Garberville (or Garbleville, as began to call it).

We stop in Ukiah hoping to complete the registration. We can make an appointment there for a CHP inspection in two weeks. We drive on. We check with our Bay Area CHP. They can squeeze us in next month.

Our new strategy is to make an appointment at the DMV in the Bay Area and say nothing about the “stamped-in-the-frame” issue. Hopefully they will approve us. Stay tuned for another episode of “Maury & Julie’s hopeless attempt to comply with California Law.”

Now here’s my rant:

The land of the free is suffocating beneath the weight of its laws. It is wrong to speak of “the rule of law” in our land. There is no “law.” There are only “laws,” so many that no one could possibly know them, let alone obey them. From the federal tax code, to the health care system, to the DMV, it is impossible to remain in compliance. How do you comply with a maze? All that matters is which of the hundreds of thousands of laws the government employee you encounter happens to choose to enforce. The diverse experiences of Escape owners trying to register a trailer in California illustrate this. It is not surprising to me that DMV employees are legendary for poor service. These are not bad people. They have an impossible job. Over time they lose their smiles.

Now here is a ray of hope, lest we all lose our smiles.

My frustration at the DMV is nothing compared with the injustice people around the world and throughout history have encountered. This is still a great country. But there is a better country which is the reason most of us have Escapes.

When we hook up our trailers and head for the woods, we escape to this country. We find a world at peace with itself. The warm sun, the ocean’s waves, the bird’s song, the tree’s strength, all work in effortless harmony. They remind us that

Though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet.
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:11 PM   #2
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Gosh Maury, that certainly sounds like quite the ordeal. Sometimes bureaucracy can be very overwhelming. So sorry you have to go through this crap.

It also makes me very appreciative that we do not have to go through that ordeal in Alberta. I just registered a trailer a couple weeks ago. Supplied the bill of sale, paid my $35, and am set for as long as I own the trailer. About a 5 minute ordeal.
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:17 PM   #3
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Similar experience in Texas. We were required to get a safety inspection before we could register our 21 last fall. The local safety inspector (a private business, not govt office) said he wouldn't do it because the VIN isn't stamped on the frame. He suggested we try an RV place, which is what we did.

We were told (by someone who seemed knowledgeable at the County Tax Office) that we also had to have the VIN verified by a member of the Auto-theft Task Force. The nice officer who verified our VIN said it's getting less and less common for the VIN to be stamped on a travel trailer's frame, and the way Escape does it (both outside and inside) is exactly right.

The day we took all our papers to the Tax Office to apply for title and registration, it turned out the clerk didn't even "need" the VIN verification paper. I made him take it anyway...

I heard different stories from other folks in Texas when they applied for their paperwork, and I agree with you it's weird, weird, weird for regulations to be so complicated the people enforcing them can't do it efficiently and well. I also think it's weird the importation document stamped when the trailer comes through Customs isn't sufficient proof of the VIN.

But, whatever. We finally got it done, and you will, too. And then it'll just be a blip on a forum discussion, while you're enjoying your lovely new trailer for years and years!!
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:48 PM   #4
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AZ was a breeze. Took longest to wait for the inspection as there was one in front of us, but the paperwork went quickly.
Seems like it is dependent on who you get and what day you get them.....
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:53 PM   #5
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Maury and Julie
Boy that is a saga for sure and if anyone ever diserved to rant, it's you. Your perspective on the long term, step back view of better days ahead and the sweet song of a bird to soothe the savage beast was right on. I hope your resolution is but a faint memory and the enjoyment of your Escape is a treasured experience each and every day you use it.
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:57 PM   #6
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Jeepers Dave, you almost put me to sleep with that soothing post.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury&Julie View Post

Now here’s my rant:

The land of the free is suffocating beneath the weight of its laws. It is wrong to speak of “the rule of law” in our land. There is no “law.” There are only “laws,” so many that no one could possibly know them, let alone obey them. From the federal tax code, to the health care system, to the DMV, it is impossible to remain in compliance. How do you comply with a maze? All that matters is which of the hundreds of thousands of laws the government employee you encounter happens to choose to enforce. The diverse experiences of Escape owners trying to register a trailer in California illustrate this. It is not surprising to me that DMV employees are legendary for poor service. These are not bad people. They have an impossible job. Over time they lose their smiles.

Now here is a ray of hope, lest we all lose our smiles.

My frustration at the DMV is nothing compared with the injustice people around the world and throughout history have encountered. This is still a great country. But there is a better country which is the reason most of us have Escapes.

When we hook up our trailers and head for the woods, we escape to this country. We find a world at peace with itself. The warm sun, the ocean’s waves, the bird’s song, the tree’s strength, all work in effortless harmony. They remind us that

Though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet.

Amen! We too had a frustrating time trying to register our trailer in Texas.

I love hitting the road with our trailer. I get so worked up by the bureaucratic nonsense in this country and from our local government. Setting out on long adventures and camping in free, remote areas is cathartic and so liberating.

I hear that RVing is making a comeback, perhaps on the coat tails of the Tiny House movement. There are certainly those that purchase an RV purely for recreational purposes, but there are also those that have made it an economic and spiritual exercise. I see more and more people with the desire to part with their "stuff" and separate from our society of high consumption. It's not for everyone, but I find it admirable. What worries me is that as more and more people do this, there will more constricting regulations brought forth by the autocrats.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury&Julie View Post
I have been putting this off because I know it will just raise my blood pressure, but here goes. First, let me tell you about our experience trying to license our trailer at the DMV. Then, stay tuned for a short rant and a ray of hope.

On our way back from Canada, we thought we would be smart and avoid our big Bay Area DMV. We stopped on a Thursday in Crescent City to find that it is closed for Cesar Chavez day. Evidently the rest of the world missed the memo, because no other business is closed. Oh well. You can’t fight City Hall. We drive on.

On Friday, we stop in Garberville, CA. Sure enough it is a small office with just two ladies working. Looks hopeful! I take my number and begin to fill out the application for registration. When my number is called, I am not quite finished filling in all the boxes.

I walk up to employee #1 and explain that I need to register an imported trailer. I hand her the paperwork that ETI said I would need.

“Where is the registration,” she says.
“The registration?”
“Yes. I can’t register it without the registration.”

I am baffled. I tell her I was told the papers I had were what was needed. She shuffles them around and looks confused. Employee #2 rescues her. She sees the import paper and says, “It’s okay.”

Great, I think. Here we go!

Employee #1 takes my application, looks it over, and discovers that two of the boxes are empty. (This is partly because I am unsure what is meant by the questions.)

“You’ll have to finish filling out the form and come back.”

I step out of line and try to make sense of the government lingo. I take my best guess and fill in the boxes. I wait for another turn. Thankfully, the window that opens up next is for employee #2. She looks at me, then at the clock. It is 11:15.

“I can fill this out but we don’t do inspections after 11:30. You’re not gonna make it. We go to lunch from 12:00-1:15. You can come back after that.”

I look at her pleadingly but manage to keep it together.

“Okay.”

She pounds on the keyboard a couple of minutes, takes my debit card and extracts $2889 from my checking account. She looks again at the clock.

“Where are you parked?” she asks.
“Right there,” I say. You can see it through the window.”
“We don’t do inspections on the street.”
“Oh.”

Long pause… She offers no solution. In spite of what has been going on in my head, I have managed to remain friendly through the whole process. It pays off. She takes pity.

“You can pull in the driveway to the north. There is a place to turn around behind the building. Meet me out there.”

Wow! We’re gonna get registered!

She meets us on the side of the building, clipboard in hand. All is well until she can’t find the VIN number stamped on the frame.

“I can’t license this without the VIN stamped on the frame.”

I call ETI. Tammy assures me that there is no law requiring that the VIN be stamped on the frame. Dozens of trailers have been registered in California without the VIN stamped on the frame. It does not matter. Employee #2 won’t budge. But she has an idea: I can drive to the local CHP and they will do the inspection. When they approve it, I can return and finish up with her.

Huh? If the law is that the VIN must be stamped on the frame, why is it okay for the CHP to break the law and approve it? Whatever. We drive to the CHP. Their inspector is only in on Tuesdays (this is a Friday.) We are done in Garberville (or Garbleville, as began to call it).

We stop in Ukiah hoping to complete the registration. We can make an appointment there for a CHP inspection in two weeks. We drive on. We check with our Bay Area CHP. They can squeeze us in next month.

Our new strategy is to make an appointment at the DMV in the Bay Area and say nothing about the “stamped-in-the-frame” issue. Hopefully they will approve us. Stay tuned for another episode of “Maury & Julie’s hopeless attempt to comply with California Law.”

Now here’s my rant:

The land of the free is suffocating beneath the weight of its laws. It is wrong to speak of “the rule of law” in our land. There is no “law.” There are only “laws,” so many that no one could possibly know them, let alone obey them. From the federal tax code, to the health care system, to the DMV, it is impossible to remain in compliance. How do you comply with a maze? All that matters is which of the hundreds of thousands of laws the government employee you encounter happens to choose to enforce. The diverse experiences of Escape owners trying to register a trailer in California illustrate this. It is not surprising to me that DMV employees are legendary for poor service. These are not bad people. They have an impossible job. Over time they lose their smiles.

Now here is a ray of hope, lest we all lose our smiles.

My frustration at the DMV is nothing compared with the injustice people around the world and throughout history have encountered. This is still a great country. But there is a better country which is the reason most of us have Escapes.

When we hook up our trailers and head for the woods, we escape to this country. We find a world at peace with itself. The warm sun, the ocean’s waves, the bird’s song, the tree’s strength, all work in effortless harmony. They remind us that

Though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet.
We feel your pain ! Ours was starting to become a distant memory . As time goes by it will for you too . Pat
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:34 PM   #9
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:35 PM   #10
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Makes a person shutter!! We will be doing this in Aug/Sep'16 for a 5.0TA. Has any one tried going to CA Auto Assn to register their imported trailer? They do some DMV services for AAA members. Unless I hear or see something here in a couple of days, I shall stop at a local AAA and see what they have to offer. That being said, our plan is take delivery of our trailer on Aug 12, '16, maybe spend a day or so in the area getting the trailer checked out, loaded with our belongings and provisions, and then tour Canada/the western provinces on the way to Winnipeg to visit Jacki's sister and other Canadian relatives. Following a couple of weeks, we would again cross from Manitoba back into the U.S. into North Dakota in order to visit my sister in Minnesota! We would then proceed through several more U.S. states enroute to California, where supposedly we have to visit DMV within 30 days or so.
I will check out the AAA route to see what they might have to say and will post any results.
Are there any Canadian comments about US citizens importing a Canadian trailer, crossing back into Canada (with no U.S. license plates) and then touring Canada for a couple of weeks before departing the country again? This all sounded like a wonderful (and simple idea) when we first began this adventure back in Sep '15.
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