Second Seattle RV 'safe lot' for homeless will not open

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The Seattle mayor's office confirms it will not open a second RV 'safe lot' for the homeless.  The decision comes after it was decided the cost to operate the program is too high.

The two safe lots were proposed by Mayor Ed Murray back in January following his homeless-emergency order.

The first safe lot known as the Yankee Diner lot at Shilshole Avenue NW and 24th Avenue NW opened in February. The second lot, referred to as the Glass Yard lot, had yet to open.

In place of the second safe lot, the City will keep two RV “safe zones,” which are cheaper to operate than “safe lots,” open for an additional 60 days. Safe zones offer portable toilets, trash removal, and late night security checks.

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The second safe lot would have been on West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way SW in SODO, but according to the Seattle Office of Policy and Innovation, it would be too expensive.

The Yankee Diner safe lot in Ballard costs $35,059 per month, factoring in costs such as rent, site staff, water and electricity, and trash. The site also had a onetime cost of $24,689, which included infrastructure, power set-up, and the cost of towing several RVs from various locations to the safe lot.

With approximately 30 vehicles at the Yankee Diner lot, all this equates to about $1,750 per RV. The safe zones cost only about $270 a month per RV.

During the 60 days that the safe zones will remain open, the 39 residents can receive help getting their vehicles operational so they can comply with the 72-hour parking law–the City's Traffic Code does not allow a vehicle to be parked on the street for longer than 72-hours. The safe zone residents will also be offered help finding “secure housing.” 

At a community meeting earlier this year, the Seattle Police Department estimated 175 to 200 vehicles in the city had someone living inside them. Murray declared a state of emergency on Nov. 2, 2015 because of the rising number of homeless in Seattle.