The Bay Area Reveals Seattle's Future of RV Living



Charles, weren't you predicting a surge in speculative real estate investment in Seattle following Vancouver's tax on foreign buyers? Why haven't we seen that yet?


"In the metro area, single-family homes grew in April by an astonishing 13.1 percent." Steroids?


Perhaps we just need to make people smaller.

Or, dormitories (and childcare!!?!!) @ The Workplace.


Charles describes RVs used as temporary homes-away-from-home by a stably employed workforce. That would be a vast improvement over the derelict RVs which now dump garbage and untreated human waste all over Seattle. Bring it on, Charles! Bring it on!!

(Or is Charles’ rosy prediction going the way of a previous prediction he made, as @1 suggests?)



You haven't seen it continue (it was happening until fairly recently) because the Chinese government has been putting their boot down on the neck of banks and individuals attempting to outflow currency from the country, both in the form of legitimate foreign investments, as well as the labyrinthine "underground banking system" that's long been a siphon for wealthy Chinese wanting to sneak money out to safer foreign tax havens, and which was to some degree fueling the "100% cash transaction" buying frenzy that has contributed to the accelerated housing market here for the past several years.


@5, So what it's currently stopped, but it's been going on for years right?



Not that long - when Ottawa tightened the rules targeting foreign investment in in the housing market up north a couple of years ago, the cash-speculators simply moved down here and started buying, until the Chinese government squeezed the money-valve completely closed earlier this year, at about the same time this glut of very expensive housing stock went on the market.


I do not like the idea of normalizing a form of shelter without connections to the city's basic utilities-- sewage, running water, and electricity.

Consider what it would mean to "normalize" that, to "destigmatize" it. What does the city look and feel like when its upper classes start to consider zero-amenity shelter perfectly acceptable?

The dirt-floored shack with a corrugated tin roof would necessarily become a perfectly acceptable home... and an entirely adequate rental unit.

With that said, it does seem pretty reasonable to let employers pay for parking spaces for their employees' RVs. I'm sure it would clear out Seattle's industrial-zoned curbsides, if only we would make a law permitting companies to simply pay for parking spaces for their workers!



Chinese investors are a tiny fraction of speculators in US real estate. The vast majority are American.

Even at its highest point, foreign investment in US properties accounted for only 10% of the dollar volume of existing home sales, or around $150b. Chinese investors accounted for $31b of that. CANADIANS accounted for a comparable fraction, at $19b.

Yes, the vicissitudes of the speculative sector do have an amplifying effect on price movements, and yes, regulation or fear of it can reverse a local market, but for the love of God can we please try to leave the hyperventilating yellow-baiting out of it? Chinese investment, at its peak, was only 2% of the picture.


@9: “I do not like the idea of normalizing a form of shelter without connections to the city's basic utilities-- sewage, running water, and electricity.”

I agree. Seattle should not be paying for “tiny houses”.

“The dirt-floored shack with a corrugated tin roof would necessarily become a perfectly acceptable home... and an entirely adequate rental unit.”

SHARE supplies “tiny house” shoot-up shacks at truly market-level rates, and charges it all to Seattle’s taxpayers. That’s right — our tax money is paying to lower our standards. (And also to validate the right-wing saying, about how the government will tax you to do things it would be illegal for you to do with that same money.)

@10: “Chinese investors are a tiny fraction of speculators in US real estate. The vast majority are American.”

Folks who’re getting priced out need a scapegoat, an Other to blame. Attacking foreign investors is just another version of attacking Amazon.



I dunno man. From your comment history, I suspect you'd be loudly in favor of corrugated plastic shacks if it meant you could set up a nice little free-market business where you slap 80 of them down on a 5000 sq ft lot in an industrial zone, charge seven bucks a day, and hire a squad of armed goons to roust anyone who isn't paid up for the next night.

The only thing you seem to care about is preventing tax-based financing of any form of shelter whatsoever. And maybe also hoping for the day when you get to watch the cops kick the shit out of some homeless people on the evening news.


Why not normalize it. We have normalized housing people in tool sheds, may as well put those tool sheds on wheels. Maybe the tool shed resident can hitch it up to one of those lime bikes and peddle it around town.


Am I the only one picturing someone on a lime bike with a tool shed on wheels hitched to the back riding up cherry street from 5th ave during rush hour? Maybe an electric bike would best suit the hilly terrain.


I've lived in tool-sheds and in an RV. I prefer tool-shed. I now live in a 300'ish sq. ft. studio with a washer/dryer and private bathroom--now that, Sir, is LIVIN'!!! (though I do miss the cicadas and smell of lilac from the tool shed days)


RV living is an intrinsic negative. We do NOT want favelas in America. The existence of these rolling shanty towns, as well as encampments, are illustrative of our failing society. If we can't ensure something as basic as a place to live America is a failure.


If Seattle would benefit from workers who can have a family out of the area, and migrate in for a few days a week to work, then leave, it should be looked at. It although it may seem that there is no room for this, if you went out and looked, there are many places that could be used to park worker RVs. Zoning prevents this, but maybe it should be considered.


Seattle has tried 'safe lots' for RVs. Notably one in Ballard on the old Yankee Diner lot.
The cost to the city ended up being $1,750 per month per RV. It turns out that if you have a half million dollar RV, you can rent space for much less at private lots. But, no heaps allowed.

It turns out that a significant part of the $1,750 per month per RV was to go to 'site staff'. Or almost $19,000 per month for the 20 RV lot. What kind of 'site staff' are needed that a high end, for profit RV park seem to be able to provide for much less? Really all that they need is a cop to cruise through a few times a night. And a part time handyman during the day.

It seems to me that the homeless problem is being milked by every city service organization, particularly social services. And that's why the problem may be insoluble. There are just too many do-gooders looking to make a profit off of this situation. And it just wouldn't pay to fix things once and for all and have a bunch of social workers needing to find honest employment in the private sector.


@12: “From your comment history...”

Not one word of which have you quoted here.

“...slap 80 of them down on a 5000 sq ft lot in an industrial zone, charge seven bucks a day...”

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a director of SHARE.

“The only thing you seem to care about is preventing tax-based financing of any form of shelter whatsoever.”

The main thing I care about on this issue is getting our homeless population permanently housed. Not in tent cities, not in shoot-up shacks, but in permanent structures with the basic civilized requirements you mentioned @9. Homeless persons who need healthcare and other resources to reach independence should get it, at taxpayer expense. Subsidized housing (e.g. Yesler Terrace, New Holly) for persons working their way up from the bottom. Squatters, happy drug-users, and thieves can leave — or have free rent, three solid meals a day, and basic plumbing, all in a very, very, very secure facility at taxpayer expense. (As the latter is the most expensive option, it should be the last resort.)

Now that you actually know what I really think, feel free to engage me.



I can't help but notice you've left out the "how to pay for all that" part.

I favor a progressive state income tax for that, myself (once the state constitution is appropriately amended, of course). Do you have a realistic revenue plan, or do you want someone to give you all of those expensive things for free?


Seattle is already ahead of its time where RVs are concerned.


@21: I can’t help but notice you’ve assumed we need more money.

“The recommendations operationalize the vision that homelessness is rare, brief and one-time through shifting City of Seattle investments and promoting successful service models.”

“Available, existing funding is sufficient to rapidly re-house all long-term shelter stayers using a combination of permanent supportive housing (PSH) and rapid rehousing (RRH) plus critical time intervention (CTI) over a period of four years. Reallocating funds from existing, low performing projects can produce additional funding needed for rapid re-housing for one-time shelter stayers.”

Ridding ourselves of criminal encampments will simply require handing citations for illegal camping to all persons who refuse offers of help when their encampment is swept. The persons so cited will leave town rather than pay, and word will get around rather quickly that Big Rock Candy Mountain has closed.

(If you think a time-limited tax increase dedicated to sweeping illegal encampments would suffer the same fate as the head tax, I have a bridge to sell you in my native Brooklyn...)



That's what a thought, you just want lots of expensive things for free.

You seem to have no interest in a realistic assessment of how much public housing we'll need to build for those who want it, or how many prisons and state mental instututions we'll have to build and staff for those who don't.

Instead, you just want it all without paying for it.

Such a sad little moocher you are!


@24: Calling me names doesn’t actually contradict anything in the report I cited. Your claiming over and over again, without proof, that shifting our spending priorities will cost money also does not actually invalidate anything in the report I cited. (I just thought you should know.)

Once you see the truth inherent to those statements of fact, you’ll have taken the first small steps to understanding how you received the humiliating and self-inflicted defeat we now call the head tax.

(Oh, by the way — does your paycheck come from SHARE, LIHI, or some other expensive wastrel of a publicly-funded, underperforming private bureaucracy of “homeless advocates”? Just curious.)



Mewling about how mistreated you are in a comments thread isn't a realistic estimate of the costs of a comprehensive homeless-eradication program.

And hey, nice conspiratorial thinking, mate. Anyone who gently reminds you that prisons and mental institutions and drug treatment centers and staff and support for at least 2000 inmates/patients are going to cost a hell of a lot of money must be paid by the Homeless Industrial Complex, eh?

Good grief, get a grip on yourself, mooch.


Making up numbers is no more effective than calling names. You seem to have a real problem comprehending this. (Also, a “conspiracy,” by definition, consists of more than one person. I asked about one person — you — and you abused the question rather than answer. I suspect the Magic 8-Ball would indicate “yes” as the answer you refused to give.)

I cited the report the city commissioned to deal with the homeless crisis. You’ve called me names, fabricated numbers, repeatedly and falsely claimed I hadn’t acknowledged a tax increase may be required, and apparently told yourself these are all brilliantly effective argumentative techniques.

Have any idea yet as to why you lost?


In the last century there were quite a few mobile home parks where those who could not afford a house were able to find their own slice of the American dream. Now the trailer parks are gone (turned into fancy housing for the most part, it seems) and people are living in RVs parked on the street. Progress? A shabby 5th wheel trailer showed up in my little corner of the Wedgwood neighborhood a few days ago, slightly aslant due to the grade of the street. I wonder how long the residents in the suddenly "million-dollar-homes" will tolerate it.