District 3 City Council representative Kshama Sawant is calling for the city’s to reinstate its suspension of restrictions that prohibit motor vehicles from being parked on streets for more than 72 hours.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT officials reinstated the rule this month after a year of pandemic moratoriums.
“For people forced to live in their cars – many of them working people – Durkan’s move could be catastrophic, costing them not only their vehicle, but also their only shelter and all their possessions,” Sawant writes. “The pandemic has worsened the severe housing crisis. We need affordable, social housing – not harassment of neighbors struggling to survive.”
The easing of Seattle parking restrictions last March including the city’s “72-hour rule” was positioned as a way to help residents get through stay at home restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis. Many on Capitol Hill celebrated the temporary end of having to shuffle their cars around the neighborhood’s high demand street parking every three days to avoid a ticket.
But with the April 1st decision to reinstate the restriction, there are more serious consequences. Crosscut reported this week on the impact for the hundreds of people living in cars and RVs in the city:
King County saw a significant jump in people living in their vehicles from 2019 to early 2020. The city and county did not conduct their annual count of homeless people this year because of the pandemic. But, said Chloe Gale, co-director of REACH, “Anecdotally, I expect we have more people living in vehicles and RVs than we did before. And people have fewer places to go. There’s less cushion in their lives. There are fewer services open that they can connect with. It’s an incredibly challenging time.”
The city says a grace period with education efforts and warnings will come before tickets and towing resumes.
Sawant’s office has posted a petition on the 72-hour rule and is calling for support to demand Durkan reinstate the ban, and permanently repeal the restriction.
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