Attorney: Seattle must acknowledge a car can be a home

Apr 24, 2018, 10:05 AM | Updated: 12:14 pm
homeless truck parking enforcement...
The truck owned by Seattle's Steve Long. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)
(Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

The attorney who successfully argued that it was unconstitutional to impound the truck a man was living in says she wants the city to acknowledge there is a difference between a vehicle and a home.

RELATED: ‘Shame on Seattle’ parents say after daughter’s death

Ann LoGerfo with Columbia Legal Services told KIRO Radio’s Carolyn Ossorio that treating Steven Long’s truck the same as any other car parked on the street is inappropriate.

LoGerfo says the judge’s ruling doesn’t mean the city can’t enforce its parking laws. It means that someone with little or no financial security living out of their vehicle can’t be charged the same as a person who simply refuses to comply with the law. Regardless of signage, a vehicle can’t be parked on a street for more than 72 hours, and must be moved off the block.

“When someone loses a vehicle to impoundment it is absolutely devastating,” LoGerfo said.

She argues that towing someone’s home doesn’t serve any policy goal of managing public property. When people are left with even less than they had before, she says it’s likely they will remain homeless longer.

According to the latest data, there are more than 2,000 people living in vehicles and RVs in King County.

When a judge ruled the City of Seattle couldn’t treat all vehicles the same, there was concern that parking enforcement would be impossible. Even the city’s assistant attorney said their hands would be tied. Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna warned against that rhetoric.

The judge didn’t rule people’s vehicles can’t be towed, LoGerfo says. Instead, the judge ruled they can’t be held in lean for an excessive amount. For someone living in their vehicle, paying to get that vehicle out of an impound lot can be devastating.

“That system, when applied to desperate people, is just unconstitutional,” LoGerfo said.

Listen to the entire conversation here.

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Attorney: Seattle must acknowledge a car can be a home