RV Safe Lots Plan In Ballard Gets Mixed Response | KUOW News and Information

RV Safe Lots Plan In Ballard Gets Mixed Response

Jan 21, 2016

Terry lives with his ex-wife and their dog in a minivan parked on a residential street in North Ballard. 

There's a quiet, neighborhood vibe, but Terry says he does not feel safe. He's had his run-ins. Recently, someone heaved a rock through his windshield.

"A big rock, like that," he says, holding his hands around an invisible rock the size of a small melon. "Couple days before that, someone egged my vehicles at night, while we were sleeping. I had to get up and go outside and clean off these vehicles for an hour."

Under a new plan by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Terry would have access to water, toilets and garbage pickup at a secure parking lot a block from busy Ballard Avenue.

It’s part of the mayor’s plan to combat growing homelessness in the city. Two months ago, Murray announced a new measure by emergency order.

The parking lot outside the former Yankee Diner in Ballard will have space for up to 32 vehicles. The city plans to provide security, water, sanitation and garbage service.
Credit KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

A discarded hypodermic needle next to the train tracks outside the Yankee Diner on Shilshole Avenue. Neighbors have complained about drug use, waste and garbage they attribute to car campers and RVs in the neighborhood.
Credit KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

"We are basically saying what we would say after an earthquake," Murray said. "There's a disaster."

The mayor declared a civil emergency and gave himself extra powers to cut through red tape.

Part of his plan involves setting up two parking lots on city property – one in Ballard, one in West Seattle – each with security and some basic services for people living in vehicles.

The mayor says his plan would also help business owners and neighbors concerned about crime and garbage.

Sara Nelson runs Fremont Brewing. They're about to expand into Ballard.

"The impacts that we see most of all are illegal dumping, human waste issues and needles," she says. "That's the most dangerous issue that we deal with, pretty much every day."

The city hopes to have these "safe lots" up in the next 30 days. Until then, the city is relaxing the 72-hour parking rule at three sites – in Ballard, Interbay and SoDo.

Meanwhile, Ballard is already host to a tent city for the homeless, so the conversation about how much one neighborhood can absorb continues. The Ballard Chamber of Commerce reacted to the mayor's parking plan with cautious optimism, but also a request to loop them in on his next decisions "before announcing them."