After seeing a dilapidated, old school bus parked in front of his Queen Anne gym for more than a month, KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill finally reached his boiling point.
He knocked on the door, or, the plywood that was being used as a door, to ask when they planned to move. Inside he found a junkyard dog, five or six — seemingly — stolen bikes and junk littered around.
Don says this is the same kind of RV as the three that have been parked about 100 feet in front of his son’s after-school program. This is part of the reason Don is taking a stand against the mayor’s proposed RV safe lots, arguing the city should, instead, be banning camping on the streets of Seattle.
“They are not the homeless. The homeless are at Mary’s Place. These are criminals,” he said. “…There’s not enough cops, the mayor’s asleep at the switch and now the city council wants to provide a camping ground? We have lost our minds!”
During his 2.1 mile drive to work from Queen Anne, Don said he counted 37 RV’s parked on Seattle’s streets. And these aren’t the campers you see parked for a weekend at Lake Chelan.
“I used to buy and sell cars at auction,” Don said. “If you were to take these campers at an auction, nobody would buy them, nobody would buy them for a dollar or $5. A lot of them don’t run, a lot of them don’t have engines in them, have plywood for windows and for doors. They are crack-houses, and it’s very interesting that in most of the neighborhoods now where you see the campers, you’ve seen an incredible rise in crime.”
Don doesn’t want to simply push the RV problem to other neighborhoods and cities, but to get them out of the state.
“There’s gonna be no accountability when you’re on wheels,” he said. “At a tent city at least you have accountability…and I’m telling you right now they will come and go as they please.”
Another of Don’s major areas of concern is that while cars parked on the streets of Eastlake are immediately ticketed and towed, RV’s are allowed to sit unencumbered for days, if not weeks. He has a theory about that.
“They can’t make (the towing company’s) money because, guess what, now they can’t put my car in there or Ron’s car…or your car,” he said. “Now they’ve got this big bus that they don’t know what to do with.”
Some of Ron and Don’s listeners emailed in with their own RV horror stories and ideas:
Jay, from Seattle
I used to be with SPD tasked with contacting RV ‘campers’ in Queen Anne. I was instructed to make contact with an RV outside SPU with a known sex offender living in it immediately outside an SPU dorm. This is normal and nothing is done. It is no joke.
Scott, formerly of Ballard
All vehicles are required to have proof of insurance. If they don’t move in 72 hours, check them for it. If they don’t have it write ‘em up then impound.
Keith, West Seattle
You are not alone with your RV problem. Take a trip under the West Seattle Bridge to north Delridge neighborhood and you will (find) another 25-35 RV “liveaboards.” This problem has grown by 75 percent in the last two years in this (my) neighborhood. If I leave my car parked in front of my house for more than a few days I get ticketed. The RV’s are left alone!
John, Arlington and Everett
I had an interesting experience to add to your story on illegally parked RV’s. It was several years back, but it goes to the priorities in Seattle. My gf had the wheels stolen off her car, called 911 and an officer came out, handed her a blank report to complete herself, and proceeded (to) ticket her car for being illegally parked, apparently you (can’t) park a car on the roadside without wheels. And, if it wasn’t moved within 24 hours it would be towed and impounded. I guess she should have moved into the car and started shooting up…then the car would be OK?
I work for the City of Seattle, SDOT. We handled the encampments until the Mayor’s office set up a new “task force” to handle it. Then they realized they couldn’t handle it, they were overwhelmed, and asked SDOT to back them up. It’s ridiculous! I think all of the RV’s should be parked in front of the mayor’s house or Scott’ Kubly’s house, and all the tent encampments should be moved over there as well. The RV situation is out of control. If the homeless don’t want to live in an area where they have to abide by the rules, kick them out of WA!