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.