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Another day, another battle with homeless RVs for a Seattle business

An RV parked in front of Harbor Island Machine Works. (Mark DeFaccio)

Harbor Island Machine Works is in a unique corner of West Seattle, right under a portion of the West Seattle Bridge. It’s a spot where quite a few homeless RV encampments have popped up in recent years.

“Obviously, along with it came the crime, as well as other activities that are not joyful for those of us around here,” owner Mark DeFaccio told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

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DeFaccio said that problems began about five years ago when RVs started encampments along the wide street in front of his business — a business that was started by his grandfather in 1950. He has filed many complaints with the city, but none have done any good. He says that almost 30 RVs have camped out at one point.

KOMO News reported this week that tensions between the machine shop and RV campers have both sides blaming the city for the issue. KOMO describes one party, Gizmo, as an RV street camper and a hoarder. When parking enforcement chalks his tires, he packs up and moves across the street. But the problems posed by the RV encampments remain, according to DeFaccio. Those problems include human waste, crime, and drunk and high people roaming the street in front of his business.

DeFaccio has taken action on his own accord. He recently placed giant concrete blocks — ecology blocks — where Gizmo usually parks in front of his business. He says he’s “storing” them there.

Gizmo told KOMO that the city’s sweeps of encampments like his, and the concrete barriers, amount to hate crimes against him. He considers homeless campers a minority class.

“It’s obviously not,” DeFaccio said. “When we moved the ecology blocks to that particular area, it was to block any RV from parking there.”

DeFaccio placed the blocks in the parking space after one incident added up to the final straw. The block prevent homeless RVs from setting up camp.

“Gizmo goes back and forth, he happened to be at the location where I put the ecology blocks …” DeFaccio said. “And he had a visitor come by, a gal who was quite high, jumping and running around his place and eventually managed to get into the shop, wandered around the shop and got all the way to the back of the shop, barefoot, before we were able to escort her back to ‘camp Gizmo.’”

“We’re a machine shop, we have all kind of turnings, sharp metal chips, on the floor,” he said. “Not only was she in danger, but also my personnel. After we returned her, apparently Gizmo got tired of her, pepper sprayed her, and she ended up in our front parking lot in distress. We called 911 earlier; we called 911 again and stated she definitely needed help, some medical help. That’s when (police) did arrive.”

But DeFaccio opted to not press charges or take any further action after the woman was transported to Harborview Medical Center for help.

“We are doing many of these addicts no good by not helping them get help, by allowing them to roam free,” he said. “When the gal trespassed recently, the police came in … and asked if we wanted to press charges. I just asked the question: would it do her any good? Will she be forced to get treatment, or aggressively provided that option? The police said, ‘No. She will go before a judge and the judge will release her on her own cognizance.’ Obviously, she was not able to make good decisions then and I doubt she will make good decisions in the future.”

“The government can establish those boundaries, and they are the only one with a police force, so if they don’t do it, we need people in office who will encourage that,” DeFaccio said.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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