Longtime local journalist and fellow witness to terrible community meetings Erica C. Barnett has a new post up on her blog today, reporting that some city council members expect the mayor to soon announce new lots for homeless people living out of RVs and campers.
The news comes about a week after residents from Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Ballard held a tense and vitriolic community meeting to complain about RVs parked in their neighborhoods.
While saying they did not have anything against most homeless people, those who attended that meeting complained that people living in RVs are dealing drugs, committing property crimes, and dumping trash to the extent that "our streets look like garbage dumps." Residents called on the city to crack down on the RVs that are home to illegal activity and offer a parking lot for the rest.
Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien, who represents Ballard, took the brunt of the neighbors' anger at that meeting. As a consistent supporter of homeless encampments, which often face the same kind of neighborhood backlash when they're opened, O'Brien also wondered aloud at that meeting whether the same crowd would show up to support a city-sanctioned lot for RV campers. It looks like we'll find out.
More details on the plans for RV lots from The C Is For Crank:
Mayor Ed Murray will soon propose the creation of several reserved parking lots for at least 50 homeless people living in RVs and campers, several city council members said this week. Murray’s spokesman Jason Kelly said they wouldn’t be able to comment on their plan until next Tuesday, when, presumably, they’ll be rolling it out publicly, although he did say the exact number of parks Murray will propose is still an open question.
Council member Sally Bagshaw, who is spearheading the effort after a recent meeting in Magnolia left her horrified at photos of needles and piles of trash, says she doesn’t know yet where the camps will be, but says it will be a matter of “weeks, not months” before they’re up and running. Council member Mike O’Brien says he hopes to see a lot up and running within a month. “I think it’s going to be way accelerated,” O’Brien says. “It’s a state of emergency.” (Literally: Mayor Ed Murray declared homelessness an emergency in November, allocating $5 million to address the problem, although some advocates are skeptical.) “I am willing to put myself on the line and say look, I support this. Do I wish I wish I had a year to work a process and find a lot that has everybody’s buy-in? Yes. But I don’t have that right now. We’ve got to do this.”