Everett seeks balance between homeless in cars and frustrated residents

May 8, 2018, 6:41 AM


Everett, Wash. (SounderBruce/CreativeCommons)


Everett police are negotiating a fine line between catering to the needs of residents and the adjacent homeless living in their cars. The prosecutor for the City of Everett instructed police to exercise caution for those with people living in them. This follows a King County ruling that a vehicle can be considered a home.

“Where is that line between compassion and enforcing the law?,” KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill wondered.

Aaron Snell of the Everett Police Department deals with that line every day. He explained how officers are adapting to the new rules.

“There’s a balance between what people need and what we can do for them. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot of needs, including mental health and addictions,” Snell told Ron and Don.

RELATED: Everett police told to be cautious when enforcing parking laws

“Are we going to compound that by taking their car away because it’s parked illegally and they have nowhere else to go? But on the flip side: where do we end up with the enforcement part of it?”

As it stands, the city only tows a lived-in vehicle if the person refuses services, if they’re causing negative ripples in the immediate area, and if there’s criminal activity linked to the vehicle. The 2017 Point-in-Time Count found 1,066 people without a home living in Snohomish County. Of the homeless, 34 percent lived in their vehicle.

Searching for a long-term solution instead of towing in Everett

Snell is hoping to look beyond slapping red tags on cars and towing them after 72 hours. He wants to address the long-term problem and hopes that by doing so, both residents and homeless will have their needs met.

“The homeowners are rightly frustrated at times,” Snell said. “But what they don’t see sometimes is that behind the scenes we’re actually working with these families to find an alternative.”

“There’s a lot of people out there in their vehicles for reasons that really aren’t their fault … We want to see if we can help them out and maybe get them off the road.”

Ron and Don


KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

Ron and Don’s last show on KIRO Radio

Last night was Ron and Don’s last show on KIRO Radio.

5 years ago

Kelly Herzberg in her natural habitat. (Photo by Rachel Belle)...

Rachel Belle

In Seattle, a personal shopper and stylist who only shops at thrift stores

If you think you can't afford a personal stylist, head to the thrift store with Sweet Kelly Anne Styling's Kelly Herzberg who will pull hundreds of pieces for you to try on.

5 years ago

Viaduct waterfront...

Ron Upshaw

What do we do with the waterfront after the viaduct is gone?

After the viaduct is taken down, we'll be left with a choice: What do we do with one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the country?

5 years ago


Ron Upshaw

Shower Thoughts: Ichiro can give Mariners fans something to root for

Rumor has it that Ichiro might make a comeback next year, and I for one welcome it.

5 years ago

Border wall...

Ron Upshaw

Trying to figure out why people want Trump’s border wall

A little over 40 percent of Americans now support the idea of a border wall, but what is it about it that seems so attractive?

5 years ago

Dan McCartney, Pierce County Sheriff...

Don O'Neill

Why you could hear kids’ voices on Pierce County Sheriff radios Monday night

Sometimes, "gone but not forgotten" isn't always how slain officers are remembered. But in Pierce County, a special effort is being made to commemorate a fallen deputy.

5 years ago

Everett seeks balance between homeless in cars and frustrated residents