State Supreme Court rules in favor of homeless Seattle man whose truck was towed

Aug 12, 2021, 11:19 AM | Updated: 11:24 am
homeless truck parking enforcement...
The truck owned by Seattle's Steve Long. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)
(Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

The Supreme Court of Washington State issued a decision Thursday, ruling that a truck owned by a homeless Seattle man that was towed and impounded by the city was protected under state homesteading laws.

Seattle may be overreacting to judge’s ruling that let man live in a truck

The case dates back to 2016, when Steven Long’s 2000 GMC truck was ticketed and towed for violating Seattle’s 72-hour parking limit. At the time, Long was storing his tools and sleeping in the truck.

The Columbia Legal Center and American Civil Liberties Union then stepped in to defend him in court, arguing that Long’s truck should automatically be classified as his residence under 1800s-era homesteading laws, and because of that, he shouldn’t be subject to parking fines other drivers are required to adhere to. His lawyers further argued that the fines imposed by the city were excessive, and that Long was forced by the city to agree to a payment plan despite not having the means to cover those costs.

After a King County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Long in 2018, attorneys for the city warned that Seattle’s hands would be tied for enforcing parking limits for anyone claiming to live in their vehicle.

A subsequent appeal to the state Supreme Court yielded a new ruling Thursday, largely supporting Long’s claims, with a few caveats.

The court first reaffirmed Long’s homesteading rights, based on a law “intended to provide shelter for families.”

A Long story: History of the Seattle man living in his truck

“The act bars the city from towing a vehicle that is occupied as a primary residence and from forcing an individual to agree to a payment plan to prevent that vehicle from being sold at a public auction,” Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez outlined in his concurring opinion. “With these observations, I respectfully concur.”

That also came with some stipulations, with the court at large clarifying that impoundment and parking fines should be enforced on a level consistent with a person’s ability to afford those costs, and that while the payment plan imposed by the city was excessive, a “reasonable fine may still be constitutional and appropriate.”

Additionally, the court pointed out that homestead protections don’t necessarily prevent the city from issuing tickets or impounding vehicles, and instead apply to enforcement after the fact.

“We note that our decision on the homestead act does not call into question the city’s independent authority to impound a vehicle,” the ruling reads.

Local News

Marshawn Lynch...
Heather Bosch

Beast Mode is now in Bake Mode as Marshawn hits British TV

Marshawn Lynch was one of six celebrities to face off with judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith from the beloved series, "Great British Bake Off."
16 hours ago
L.B. Gilbert

Renton PD: ‘Potential hate crime’ after taproom vandalized ahead of drag event

The owners of a Renton bar say they plan to continue their monthly drag-queen story time this weekend, even after a potential hate crime.
16 hours ago
Frank Sumrall

‘Tripledemic’ concerns local health officials, want masks back indoors

It is time to put your masks back on when you are indoors, according to Washington state public health leaders.
16 hours ago
Darren Dedo

Amazon truck heist strikes before holidays in Kitsap County

When the Amazon delivery driver returned to his van, he found an unknown man sitting in the driver's seat in Kitsap County.
16 hours ago
Micki Gamez

Gamez: Safety concerns over the holidays with ‘tripledemic’ surge

The 'tripledemic' - flu, COVID, and RSV - is spreading fast and unusually early this year all across the country.
16 hours ago
avian flu...
Sam Campbell

Avian flu outbreak kills 700 waterfowl around Skagit Bay

The recent outbreak of avian flu comes after around 450 dead birds were removed from Wiser Lake in Whatcom County about a month ago
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
State Supreme Court rules in favor of homeless Seattle man whose truck was towed