Seattle Council draft ordinance could loosen RV encampment regulations

The Seattle City Council may soon consider legislation which would open up wide swaths of the city to RV encampments. It's part of a draft ordinance which has been circulated at City Hall.

A Seattle City Councilmember is floating legislation to give RVs used as primary residences wide flexibility for where they can park.

It's part a 20-page document circulating throughout City Hall in response to the "Vehicular Living Workgroup" convened by councilmember Mike O'Brien.

It contains language which would exempt "vehicular residences" from many common city codes regarding parking, and tickets.

For instance, one graph would allow a vehicle on public right of way or on other publicly owned or controlled property with four or more parking infractions to avoid impound if it "has been identified as a vehicular residence and its use or users are participants of the Vehicular Residences Program."

Another graph from the draft ordinance also exempts vehicular residences from impoundment "pursuant to Section 12A.10.115." That's the municipal code for impoundment of a vehicle used in sexual exploitation.

"This law would exempt vehicles that are involved in the sexual exploitation of other individuals – if those vehicles are occupied for vehicle residency – if is a mobile brothel in effect it is exempted from the other impound laws other vehicles in the city face – that's just wrong," said Scott Lindsay, who once ran Mayor Ed Murray's homeless response and has since left to run for city attorney.

O'Brien could not be reached for comment. His legislative aide Jasmine Marwaha said that clause was part of an earlier draft, but the legislation now is "significantly different" and could change more before it's formally introduced later this week.  

O'Brien referenced the legislation and the work group earlier in the day at a Council briefing.

"One of the things that comes up time and time again, including this work group, is we need places where people can park," he said.

However, Bill Kaczmarek, who owns Seattle Textile and neighbors the only sanctioned RV encampment in the city, was surprised the city would try to allow more RV encampments.  

"It would be unbelievable to me that they would expand this," he said. "Not one person has been helped by this situation. To do something for to get a job, or a house to live in – this is just a dumping ground."

The SODO Business Improvement Area also said it had "serious concerns" about the draft.

"Vehicular living is a significant health and public safety issue in SODO, and a change to the current approach is desperately needed," said Executive Director Erin Goodman in a statement. "However, the recommendations from the working group places emphasis on items that would further negatively impact the district and moves away from the City's stated goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and one time."

The first hearing on the proposed RV legislation will take place Wednesday afternoon. 

© 2017 KING-TV


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