After a big push by the police department, most camper vans have been pushed off of Northlake Way. There are still a few near Gasworks and the problem has ebbed and flowed through the years, but for now the situation seems to be semi-resolved.
It’s not clear to me why the police took action now after many months of complaints. Maybe they finally relented to pressure from the Northlake Safety and Security Team. Or, if you’re more cynical, you could say they took action because it’s election season so some politician decided to respond to a citizen complaint for once.
Anyhow, those campers will go somewhere, so you may find them popping up in front of your house. We experienced it a couple months ago, and I figured now would be a good time to relate how things went.
We came home one day to find a massive RV blocking our driveway, sitting squarely in front of our house. We couldn’t see them but they could easily know our comings and goings. The size of the RV also effectively walled our house off from the street, so nobody else could see our house if they decided to mess with it.
We chatted with the people inside the camper and they said they’d be leaving the next day, but then sat in the same spot for several days. Somehow they always managed to obscure their faces (wearing a motorcycle helmet, or talking from behind curtains).
After about a week we called the police. Here are the rules they can enforce, all three were being violated in our case:
- No blocking driveways (SMC 11.72.110)
- If the vehicle is over 6’6″ wide (such as RVs, tractor trailers, and larger trucks) then they can’t park on most city streets (any street except those adjacent to Manufacturing or Industrial zoning) between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. (SMC 11.72.070)
- No parking on city street for longer than 72 hours (SMC 11.72.440)
We filled out this form online to report the issue. The form is confusing as it counts occupied RVs as an “abandoned vehicle” report, but just run with it. You can also call (206) 684-8763 if you prefer that route. Be prepared with the license plate of the offending vehicle.
The cops will treat enforcement as a background task, so in our case it took them 3 days to show up. When they did come, we were surprised that they asked us what we wanted done- warning, ticket, or immediate tow.
We had them ticket first since an immediate tow seemed a bit harsh to us, but the only action that resulted in was the occupants tearing the ticket off their window. After a couple more days, we had the cops come back and tow the RV (it was unoccupied when the cops showed up).
About 2 days after the tow, we saw the same RV parked in front of St Bens.
We had the exact same experience. Blocking a driveway and I completed the form daily, even attaching photos. My husband called the cops several times and he was told you’re supposed to call on RVs not complete the form. Either way they finally ticketed the thing and I continued to complete the form since I figured either way it would bring attention. Finally they towed it in the middle of the night but the owner showed up part way through and they allowed him to drive it two blocks and park again.
Thanks for the info – really appreciate it! Have a feeling this may happen to us.
Hmmm – tough one. I realize that it’s hard for all of us to have a large vehicle parked on our street/in front of our homes. Imagine though how hard it is to live out of an RV, have to move it constantly, be ticketed constantly. While I don’t love seeing these parked down on Northlake Way – isn’t that a better spot than up on the neighborhood streets? I wish the city would allow something for RVs in the same realm as “allowable” tent cities. We are a pretty progressive ‘hood – too bad we can’t figure out a way to have some of these people (yes, there are people in those RVs) use our driveways for a stint. Sometimes the tickets pile up on people living out of cars and they cannot see their way free of that debt. Sure – there are those who take advantage, but most are just trying to get a foothold in a very tight and expensive city.
The truth is wouldn’t we all like to live for free on a cute little neighborhood street. They choose to live in an RV in the city, then they need to folluw the rules! Period. They don’t consider themselves homeless. They will often tell you that they have chosen and enjoy this pRticular lifestyle. (I am in NO WAY referring to the people living in their cars.). So let them move their RVs every 72 hours and perhaps find an appropriate place to park it. I live here and am not allowed to park my own personal RV on the street. They need to move along!
Wow! What an insensitive and myopic point of view! For the folks living in their RV’s the spot on Northlake WAS one of the few locations these FAMILIES could live without being constantly ticketed and hassled by Police and those privileged enough to rent or own homes in Wallingford (one of the more affluent communities in Seattle.) Those living in the RV’s are making the best of their situations and the city of Seattle offers more resources for folks facing homelessness than many of the outlying areas- this is why people muight choose to locate their vehicles within the city limits because there is access to other resources like health care, food banks etc. I don’t know what makes you think that you can speak on behalf of those folks living out of their vehicles, saying they have chosen this lifestlye and don’t consider themselves to be experiencing homelessness but i would encourage you to analyze where you got these perspectives, were they perhaps assumed?
The project FacingHomelessness has interviewed and photographed some of these families and inidviduals and perhaps seeing that they are more than just an eyesore to your “cute little neighborhood street” might allow you to address this situation with more COMPASSION and less JUDGEMENT
It doesn’t take a lot of analysis, a few of them showed up here to congratulate themselves over their lifestyle. With photos.
Indeed, it would a mistake to make any assumptions.
More than one showed up on this forum and ranted and raved about the cement block apartment buildings in which we chose to live which were so ugly and continued on about the freedom of their lifestyle not being stuck in cement and not having to pay bills etc.. Go back and read the comments.
I too, would like to see an economical set aside space for people in RVs and campers. But I would NOT like to see it on public parking areas or streets or parks. Please do not consider allowing any of these folks to park in your driveway. When people choose to live in these vehicles, they supposedly also choose the restrictions and fees that come with “camping”. Those that do not abide by the laws – in my experience – are often choosing a lifestyle that provides them the freedom to engage in substance abuse and other related activities, including heavy drinking and prostitution, without having to comply with rules and regulations that govern social service and housing programs.
There are other folks out there who create parking problems in our neighborhood as well. Recently I witnessed a couple of cars cruise our lower Wallingford street. One parked while the other car put its blinkers on. The parked car had a blue handicapped placard hanging from the inside mirror. But out of that car climbed three big, tall vigorous young men who opened the trunk, took out three heavy golf bags, swung them into the trunk of the waiting car, climbed into that car and then sped away. I imagine they all had a great weekend golfing because they parked their car on our street just under the 72 hour limit.
CORRECTION to a main article law citation: NOT “80 inches long”(sic) but instead over 80” (6.6 ft.) WIDE — all such “over-width” vehicles must have 3 yellow high up marker lights on its front & 3 extra red on its rear end.
As to parking in front of your driveway the law also allows for up to 5 ft. from each edge by owner:
11.72.120 – Driveway—Painted curb.
The prohibited area for driveway returns described in Section 11.72.110 may be maintained with traffic yellow paint by the property owner or occupant.
Oops, thanks Mike, article fixed.
Welcome to the battle. I did start the thread about ‘”lakefront” Northlake Way RV camping over a year ago June. Some RV’s and cars continue to ignore the 2-5AM posted signs on Northlake Way. Again, no enforcement by SPD. You will have to complain AGAIN and AGAIN to get ANY action. It is sad that the thread went down to name calling and vulgar attacks to posters but,hey, it worked as it generated buzz and got ACTION. Northlake is somehwhat better now too. It has always been my point in my posts that the Ivar’s, Northlake Way and the BG trail area is far too great a resource (views!) for the city to let get trashed. You HAVE to keep up the pressure on city leaders. If that makes me a NIMBY, so be it.
Don’t kid yourself, a thread in the Wallyhood forum section is not a big attention getter in city hall. The business owners in the immediate area put in a lot of work in on it, that was a large part of it anyway.
In the present case, blocking a driveway seems like an obvious bad move that’s going to get the police called down on you. It’s interesting that they’d even try it. Wonder what happens next if no one complains?
I often launch my kayak at Waterway 18 (beside Emerald Landing), and parking is pretty precious on a weekend. I resent more and more squatters taking up parking they’re not paying for. There are trailer parks…
But, yeah, I’d rather not have them on my street.
I was down there the day the city was cleaning up the shrubbery and the piles of trash they had along the road were appalling! It’s one thing to “camp” in the city and live out of your car or rv but there was a recliner in one of those piles. It’s not necessary to shit in your own backyard like that. There ought to be a tent city like solution,
Yes … maybe. Imagine what it would get to be like. How would you like to be in charge of keeping order there? No misbehaving allowed, no littering. Bearing in mind also that there are children in some of these units. I don’t know much about tent cities, though I’ve been to one down near the Duwamish, but a camp will house a few dozen people out of the thousands of homeless, and they can and do evict people who won’t follow the rules. Round up a group of people who have chosen and invested in an extremely independent lifestyle in flagrant disregard of rules, and try to turn them all into Boy Scouts? Like the lieutenant who I guess was in charge of the move a few weeks ago said, the advantage of providing a site is that when we chase them off, we can answer that question — “tell me where I’m supposed to go” — but realistically, it’s more part of the game than a real solution.
Thanks to Donn for pointing out all the heavy lifting done buy the local businesses in the area. It continues to be a joint effort by same and the Wallingford community to address the lack of parking enforcement by SPD on Northlake Way.
Several of the most graphic photos I’ve taken in the past of the problem were forwarded to Ivar’s and others. MYnorthwest blog would not publish them in their recent articles on the problem. Too graphic perhaps? More effective coming from a business?
We had a motorhome park in front of house for quite awhile. We live right by the lake so it’s not uncommon. After a few days, the owner knocked on our door and wanted me to know that he was friends with “some guys” on my street and he was fixing up his motorhome. He asked me not to complain about him. I wasn’t really planning on it,
until he started letting his three dogs aggressive dogs run loose. Our postal carrier told me that she could no longer deliver my mail as the dogs were dangerous. So, I called the police, who came out right away. The officers told the motor home man to move on right away. After the police left, the motorhome man stood outside my door, screaming obscenities. SPD came right back and had him towed.
Another reason why I’m so glad my street is RPZ-ed.
Well,they’re back. At least on RV,for now. Just west of the Sunnyside boat ramp. As bad or worse than any in the recent past. Loads of junk around on both sides. Looks broken down. jacked up oil pan etc. Have a look if you pass by,you’ve lots of time because it’s free endless parking on Northlake Way so they will be there for several weeks..at least . as in the past.
@Eric I suppose the impetus for recent action on Northlake Way may have been, as you suggest, elected officials finally responding to citizen complaints about the RVs and campers on Northlake Way.
However, I think the opposite is just as plausible: that SDOT, SPD, the Mayor, and City Council have been reluctant to take action for fear of it being unpopular, perceived as “anti-homeless,” and so on.
No way to know for sure, so for my part, I’m writing to the Mayor and Council to let them know that I fully support ongoing, regular, enforcement of the parking requirements on Northlake Way, and attention to the problems of trash and waste.
I realize this doesn’t fix everything. Maybe the answer is allocation of land for parking vehicles of this kind. (But…what land?) In the meantime, if someone living in a camper or RV parks on Northlake is required to do so lawfully (meaning: does not stay in one block longer than 72 hours), there’s still less likelihood of the area turning into an illegal permanent “camp.” That’s a step in the right direction.
The SPD lieutenant’s story was that they decided against a planned hard line confrontational response that had been in the works, when they considered that there would probably be press on hand, kids in some of the vehicles, etc. I imagine some of the campers are pretty good at making a scene. The point being, fallout for the mayor et al. depends a lot on details – it’s one thing to have a few advocates screaming about this or that, it’s another to have police in riot gear and shotguns taking on campers full of kids, on TV.
From this perspective, it’s a simpler if they can keep them spread out. Dispersed campers can be dealt with as appropriate for the situation, without making a news spectacle out of it.
Woodland Park is slowly but surely filling up with RVs and all the litter they bring with them. Love the guy who runs his loud gas generator 24 hours a day. Lovely to hear when you’re in the park.
Woodland Park?!? Where are the RVs parking there?
I was on the Burke-Gilman yesterday and went by the spot where the graffitied RV and the one with the woman and young daughter were. There’s now a gigantic black converted bus parked there – horizontally, since it’s so long, taking up probably about eight spots. I”m glad the city is finally cracking down on this. It wouldn’t be allowed in many other cities.
To most sensible people, if you blend in and not throw trash-loud music-block driveways etc you would be somewhat left alone. But then again you need at least 2 brain cells to come up with that, and I know all their money ends up on stoneway pot houses! But look on the bright side-this weekend all the homeless will leave us alone at QFC, off ramps etc-Its HEMPFEST WEEKEND!
I for one am glad that the cops have booted those people out of my beautiful Wallingford. When I bought my incredible home in this cute little neighborhood, do you think I wanted to spend all that money paying Juan and Carlos to work on the landscaping just so that these lazy white trash-leaving scofflaws could park their old RVs six blocks away on a light industrial street? They’re ruining my property values, which increased only 33% in the last ten years! I like to practice yoga before kayaking the canal, and it is hard to concentrate on sending the earth and this wonderful city positive energy when my view is marred by their misery. I’m no expert, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve imagined the amount of drugs and prostitution that they might be engaging in. And there are children in those death traps, in the same ratchet RV where their parents might be having sex! I heard from a dear friend at my son’s school that some of those people might even want to send their kids to our public schools. Can you imagine them at B.F. Day? I’m so glad I send my precious son to the Wallingford Waldorf Free Range School for Exceptional Children; I don’t want him to pick up any bad manners from their spawn on his way to a lacrosse scholarship at Duke. Honestly, I don’t understand why they can’t just get a job as a lawyer or programmer, and work hard and afford to buy a house here just like the rest of us.
And you can call me a NIMBY, but sometimes I wish we could put up guarded gates so we could keep out these people, along with the Muslims and people who didn’t attend Vassar.
Seriously, I just listened to the This American Life episode “The Problem We All Live With”. The histrionics here sound uncannily similar to the parents in Saint Louis. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/562/the-problem-we-all-live-with
See also, for good measure:
I assume the “seriously” section is parody too – well done.
well the police did come through and clear out all the riff raff and I do appreciate that although they decided to harass me and my family quite a bit during the whole escapade but once the dust settle the businesses here all said to leave us alone because the white bus is good neighbors that keep our neighborhood clean they also Chase off criminals such as graffiti artist late night when there’s nobody else down here and for those of you weren’t on the last thread with us my family do not do drugs I work full time my wife up until a couple weeks ago I worked full time she’s actively seeking a new job now and we do have a three year old daughter is very intelligent and will be going to school with your kids if we are still here then still planning to move to Colorado in a couple of months but my invitation is still open to all of the neighbors to come down and say hi to us my standing days off are Tuesdays and Wednesdays we’ve had several people come by and visit us since I put this offer out the last time and they’ve been quite surprised that we are just normal working class people not drug addict not prostitutes although those problems do exist in the rving community but again this is something the police need to concentrate on those Rv they need to figure out which ones are the problem and move them along we need to stay more spread out that would be great if you look at the original maps at 1979 with industrial zone parking available for Camper there are over 200 Block if you look at the same map today with the no parking 2-5 area down to 30 blocks the reason why the Rv are clumping is because they are running out of Leagle places to park thank you wallyhood for allowing all views to be expressed…
umm you made fun of us over and over. How stupid do you think we are? I would not come to your bus, ever. I hope you find a way to live in harmony with a neighborhood.
Hi – a friend sent me this after a discussion about the problems around various neighborhoods: Here is a link to the Times story about a City program to provide assistance to churches allowing homeless living in their cars to park in church parking lots – http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/program-to-help-homeless-living-in-cars-off-to-slow-steady-start/. The story was originally published on December 25, 2012 in The Seattle Times. It is older than I remembered so the Safe Parking pilot project may no longer exist.
A quick search shows that there may still be a program through Compass Housing Alliance called the “Road to Housing” or R2H, that partners with churches to provide homeless adults living in their cars a way to park within a church parking lot. Here is the link to their web page – http://www.compasshousingalliance.org/what-we-do-top/emergency-shelter/road-to-housing/.
Hope this provides a more useful and satisfying way for folks in your neighborhood to address the parking issues.
If they blocked my driveway, I wouldn’t hesitate to tow them immediately. They obviously don’t respect your property rights and are thumbing their nose at you, so why give them a second chance? Their rights to any sympathy just because they’re “homeless” end when they trample on the rights of others.
So this is what we learned, when we were parked on northlake way we were in front of your houses we were on northlake way in an industrial zone…. Thank you for playing with people’s lives.
Duke you have no room or right talking about the rights of others
soveriegnCitizen, are you talking to me when you say “Duke you have no room or right talking about the rights of others?” If so, I never said i lived on Northlake Way. I was talking about it hypothetically, if they parked in front of my home.
And yes, I meant what I said. I’d tow their a55es immediately. My earlier post reflected my amazement at Eric’s statement in this article that “We came home one day to find a massive RV blocking our driveway, sitting squarely in front of our house.” Furthermore, the campers “said they’d be leaving the next day, but then sat in the same spot for several days.” But STILL, that wasn’t enough for him: “We had them ticket first since an immediate tow seemed a bit harsh to us, but the only action that resulted in was the occupants tearing the ticket off their window.”
Are you kidding me? Some dirtbag in a bummobile deliberately blocks your driveway, LIES to you and says he’ll be moving along, but then camps there day after day? And yet Eric thinks towing him is is too harsh? Not only would I tow him, I’d go out of my way to find the most expensive towing company.
And soveriegnCitizen, when you challenge me saying I “have no room or right talking about the rights of others,” let me tell you something: I have every godammed right to tow someone who blocks my driveway. If I’m minding my own business, and someone comes onto my property or blocks my driveway and refuses to leave, I don’t give a flying crap about their sob stories and being “down on their luck.” If they want to live that lifestyle, they can park it somewhere else. If you think I or anyone else should tolerate some vagrant setting up camp in front of their home in their disgusting camper and let them piss and crap all over your lawn, litter it with empties and needles and god knows what else, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s a pretty simple concept, if you think about it. Don’t make your problems someone else’s problem. The bums who infest our neighborhood have made it very clear they don’t care about our concerns, so I say, eff them. When they start treating our neighborhood and our parks and playgrounds like they think they’re lucky to be here, instead of crapping all over them, maybe then I’ll care about their needs. Sorry, but compassion and respect is a two way street.
It seems Hayduke, that you may be going the wrong way down a one way street of compassion.
Paul, I have plenty of compassion… for those who deserve it. But I’m sure you’re waaaay more compassionate than I am. So tell us, when will you be opening up your home to some of Wallingford’s finest? Maybe offer up free showers to the needy? let them use that couch? or at least sleep on your floor? And surely there’s room in front of your driveway for soveriegnCitizen to pull up his ride and stay awhile, hmmm? Don’t hold back, Paul. Show us how compassionate you really are.
Oh for F-sake. Enough with the compassion card!! I’m with you, Hayduke!
Live the way you want. Go where you belong! These are choices, not desperate homeless people. These are people that have no respect and show their disdain at our annoyance of their presence. With a smirk of enjoyment at our unhappiness.
You aren’t wanted, in yes, this cute little neighborhood. That I hand-picked for my family and decided to spend my hard earned money so I could live in a neighborhood community of wonderful and diversely opinionated people. So guess what, A. Rogers-I’m as compassionate as I feel or want to be.
You wanna’ live the free-wheelie’ gypsy RV/camping life, go for it!
Not here in Wallingford. You’re not welcome and you don’t belong here!
They’re not welcome by you. Who made you Supreme Overlord of Wallingford?
I say you don’t belong here and are not welcome. Now shoo!!
I would have them towed also. Blocking the driveway???!!!!!
Lucky Mom, you rock!
Right on Lucky Mom!