DORI MONSON

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

Mar 6, 2018, 2:00 PM | Updated: 4:06 pm
LISTEN: Homeless man had his truck declared a home, so the city can't touch it

Steven Long likes to live the “Gypsy-style” life. That life was interrupted when the truck he was living in ran afoul of Seattle parking laws.

Interrupted, but only briefly. A recent court ruling states that Long’s truck is a home.

RELATED: Park anywhere, because a truck is legally a home in Seattle

“I have many, many jobs. I’ve always had jobs,” Long told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “There was just this point in time … my mother had passed away, my teeth were giving me problems, and the truck gave me problems. I just had to work my way out of it.”

Long’s 2000 GMC was parked longer than Seattle’s 72-hour limit. It was towed. The Columbia Legal Center and the ACLU stepped in. The result: a ruling is based on an old homesteading law from Washington’s pioneer days. Now, Long’s truck is classified as a home and not subject to parking laws drivers must follow.

Long says that there should be some kind of designation for people living in vehicles. He says if people have a problem with folks living in their cars near their home or work, they should just knock on the car door.

“Well, I’d say they would have to meet them and see if they are the kind of people that they would like to meet, and if they didn’t then ask them if they would find another place, ” he said. “There’s always the option to move away.”

Long has other advice for the area’s homeless crisis. Houses should be built for the homeless. He also says the backyard cottage idea is a good one.

Long’s court ruling has had many locals wondering if homeless living in their vehicles will now line city streets for good. Some have contacted the Dori Monson Show proposing that they ditch their long commute from out of town. Instead, they could live in an RV in Seattle during the week and leave it parked in town indefinitely.

Living in a truck: A Long story

Long moved to Seattle from Wyoming in 1988. Before that he lived in a camper, moving between five different states. When he got to Seattle, he lived in a 1,500-square-foot apartment for $290 a month at 20th and Yesler. He lived there for 15 years. But times change. Rents went up.

He also says he got into some controversy with an ex-Marine he was helping out, but wouldn’t go into details. After that, he went back to living in a vehicle.

“Nah, I gave up the apartment,” he said. “I don’t like the high price and the rent and all that.”

The Dori Monson Show looked into Long’s history before he came to Seattle. There are criminal records, but long says he was a different person many decades ago. He says he’s been sober 33 years.

“That guy, I forgot all about him,” he said. “In 1982, I gave up a drinking career I was heavily involved in. I was a barroom brawler. I was beaten by the police several times. That’s neither here nor there.”

There is also a sex offense on his record, for which he received two years probation. Long said the particular offense happened in 1982 after a Black Sabbath concert. Long didn’t provide specifics. But he said it stemmed from when he was trying to help a young girl whose mother was pimping her out.

“There was a lady who ran a brothel,” Long explained. “And her daughter, I thought she was 18 because she was in the same grade as my sister. She was an intelligent and bright young girl. Her father was an ex-police officer with the Billings police and he was Native American and he got thrown out for shooting too many Mexicans, evidently.”

Long doesn’t know exactly what is next for him. But he knows he’s staying in the truck.

“I’ll probably just travel again; gypsy-style living,” he said. “I kind of enjoy it. It’s a freedom that most people need to experience.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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