Tucked partially out of view of Hwy. 101 just over a mile north of Hwy. 129 sits the community of Betabel RV Park. Graced with the daily coastal breeze that rolls over the hills on the west side of the park, visitors and residents alike enjoy a safe, affordable location and a good jumping-off point for exploring San Benito County and the surrounding area.
Though the land where the park sits was originally an apple and pear orchard owned by the Botelho family, nowadays it hosts about 130 people at any given time.
Park management estimates that 65 percent of individuals at Betabel are long-term residents and considered monthly guests, with 35 percent being visitors who stay from one night to a week.
Within the Betabel population there are families with children as well as the elderly. The oldest person in the park is 99; the youngest is four.
While some of the park’s residents are retired, many are still working. In fact, Betabel has become a destination for temporary or contract employees such as traveling nurses and X-ray techs.
Betabel office manager Rachel LaBas said that with an average of 13 weeks contracted to work with a company or hospital, many of these employees need a place live that will be close to work and still allow them to explore the surrounding area.
“The question is ‘Where can I stay while I work?’” LaBas said. “I actually even had a nursing company who was toying with the idea of permanently looking to rent a space in the company name for whichever contracted person.”
Contract employees are not the only people who are drawn to Betabel’s location. Wanting the freedom to travel while still having a sense of home, others are buying RVs and stopping in San Benito County en route to their next destination.
“Some people like having the mobility,” said Frank Paura, Betabel’s general manager. “If you’re monthly you can stay on a 30-day basis. You’re not stuck here like a house.”
Suzanne and Denton Scott moved to Betabel from Alabama to fulfill their desire to travel and explore two years ago. Soon they will return to Denton’s home state of Mississippi.
“We moved here so I could live in California again and I always wanted an airstream,” Suzanne Scott said. “Location is huge. We are close to Carmel and close to San Francisco.”
Scott said she was also drawn to Betabel’s diversity of residents, cleanliness, dog-friendly policies and affordability compared to the rest of the Bay Area.
For those priced out of buying a home in the Bay Area or for younger individuals trying to get a start, Betabel is a desirable location.
“A lot of people can’t afford homes,” LaBas said. “People lease and rent and at the end of the day you don’t own anything. This way you own your home.”
Scott said she knew younger individuals staying in the park to be able to have an affordable place to live while going to a nearby university.
“Living here allows young people to save up for a down payment for a house,” Scott said.
Grounds manager Dave Owens also explained how living close together and having security at the park creates a sense of safety and appeals to those who choose Betabel.
“It’s a more tight-knit community,” Owens said. “We are closer together so people get to know one another more.”
Activities offered by the park to create community include barbecues twice a year and games hosted by residents such as bunco. The park also includes common areas such as a pool, children’s playground, dog park, bocce ball court, putting green, and large grass areas that can be used for picnics and lawn games.
“Not all parks are this nice,” Scott said. “The biggest thing I have walked away with is I have met people I never would have encountered otherwise. You rub shoulders with people who have different stories than yours. Typically people only live within their tribes.”
Betabel has been a popular stop for visitors from around the country and beyond.
“I think we’ve had people from every state,” LaBas said. “A lot of Texas, Oregon, Washington. We have also had snowbirds from Western Canada stopping on their way to Arizona. From June to September we have a large amount of retired people from the south like Arizona. Everyone loves our microclimate here.”
Owens says the climate is known as “the Betabel Breeze. It will drop 13 degrees from Gilroy to here.”
For the long-term resident or traveler passing through, LaBas believes in addition to the weather the location is a big draw.
“We are in the middle of nothing and close to everything,” she said.
For more information about Betabel RV Park visit the website or call (831) 623-2202.
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