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With more than 40% of city’s homeless population living in vehicles, Seattle will restore enforcement of 72-hour parking rule — UPDATE

City officials estimate vehicle residents account for more than 40% of the unsheltered homeless population in Seattle (Image: Seattle.gov)

In what it says will be an initial focus to clear abandoned or dangerously parked vehicles off the streets, Seattle City Hall says its traffic enforcement squad will begin issuing warnings this week for violations of the 72-hour parking rule:

With an increase of abandoned vehicles across Seattle, the City of Seattle will resume enforcing the 72-hour parking rule beginning on October 15, 2021. While warnings and citations may be issued on any vehicle parked in one place for 72 hours, the initial focus will be on clearing unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.

“City Traffic Code does not allow a vehicle to be parked on the same block of a city street for longer than 72 consecutive hours,” the announcement from the Seattle Department of Transportation reads. “In general, public streets are not an appropriate place for long-term vehicle storage. The 72-hour parking rule can also help prevent people from abandoning broken or unused vehicles on city streets.”

The city’s transportation department now manages parking warnings and tickets in Seattle following changes to move 911 and parking enforcement out of Seattle Police in an effort to rein in the department’s spending.

The city suspended enforcement of the rule in the first weeks of the pandemic as part of a response to COVID-19 restrictions. Homelessness service organizations and advocates including City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have called for the permanent end to the rule to protect those living in cars in the city.

In 2018, researchers found that people living in cars, trucks, and RVs represented the fastest growing segment of the region’s homeless population.

UPDATE: A city spokesperson has asked CHS to clarify the 40% statistic:

We currently do not have an accurate breakdown of the number of people experiencing homelessness who are living in vehicles in Seattle and cannot confirm the 40% number in the headline and ask that number not be used.

Not knowing the source information, and based on what we know from the most recent Point In Time Count in 2020 for King County, the 40% would most likely represent and estimate for “unsheltered homeless” and not just “homeless” which includes thousands living in shelters or temporary housing.

According to the spokesperson, a more accurate headline should read “an estimated 49% of King County’s unsheltered homelessness population” or “an estimated 23% of King County’s homelessness population.”

CHS’s source for the datapoint was the most recent findings from the “Point in Time” homelessness survey efforts. We’ve updated this post’s headline to reflect the 2020 49% total.

Original report: In the announcement, the city said the 72-hour rule will again, soon, apply to everyone.

“While the initial focus is on abandoned vehicles, all vehicle owners should get back in the habit of regularly moving vehicles to avoid a possible warning and citation,” the city’s announcement reads. “People should also check their block regularly for temporary parking restriction signs, which can be placed with a minimum of 24-hours’ notice for things like emergency utility work, cleaning, or special events.”

The city is also planning to make it easier to report cars that need to be moved. Coming soon, the Find It Fix It app will be updated to include reporting of three-day parking violations.

But be patient. “Because enforcement was paused for so long, the City expects that it will take longer than usual to respond to requests to clear abandoned vehicles currently on the streets,” the city says.

 

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Cappy
Cappy
6 days ago

I know I am going to wake up all of the haters…but I say “Good.” As a tax paying citizen I move my car every 72 hours. It’s the law and I follow it…and I have to pay a citation if I don’t. There are reasons for rules and systems work better if everyone follows them.

Frank B
Frank B
6 days ago
Reply to  Cappy

The rules also said one was expected to spend just 30% of their income on housing not 70% ! Whats your take on that citizen tax paying fanatic ! Homeless people pay taxes too through
sales tax when the buy stuff ! You are not the only one paying taxes !

SeattleCitizen
SeattleCitizen
5 days ago
Reply to  Frank B

Please!! A tweaker shows up to Seattle unable to pay local rents. They either arrive in or buy a scrap level motor home and park it. Enabled and blessed by the likes of you. A thought experiment: We knock on the doors of a bunch of these vehicles or tent squats and offer housing to anyone who can provide 30% of the rent for a low-income apartment in town. They need to be able to fill out a lease and otherwise comply with requirements. Let’s say this adjusted rent is 1500.00 a month so they need to come up with 450 consistently. How many would be able to and would choose to go along?

As to taxes, give me a break. How much do you think that these folks actually buy vs. get given to them, or steal? And food is not taxed, nor are drugs. You really need to provide a place in front of your home or yard for these stellar neighbors. Most of us are sick of having our city ruined by them.

Restoring the 72 hour rule is the beginning of a return to sanity in Seattle. Add to that a new mayor, city attorney, recalled councilperson and perhaps a Nelson and Wilson in the council and we are off to a potential return to accountability and an end to empty rhetoric and self-conning of the sort that you demonstrate, that are contributing to a troubled city.

Privilege
Privilege
4 days ago
Reply to  SeattleCitizen

Let’s totally do your thought experiment for real!

Oh, it’s just empty rhetoric because you already believe that everyone would say no because they just dig living on the streets and using our great free services.

Kelly D Billingsley
Kelly D Billingsley
23 hours ago
Reply to  SeattleCitizen

I make about$1100/mo in disability. I’ve been trying to get housing since before July. It’s not there.

melica
melica
5 days ago
Reply to  Cappy

As a tax paying citizen, I don’t move my vehicle every 72 hours. I don’t follow the rules and I’ve gotten one citation in 15 years. We are supposed to be taking rapid transit and reducing traffic, exhaust and the use of fossil fuels. My parking fee is $150 a month. If the fee was reasonable I would pay to park it off the street.

Glenn
Glenn
5 days ago
Reply to  melica

So you’re saying developers should be offering free parking, or at least parking for less than $150 per year? Isn’t that in conflict with everything else you said about rapid transit, traffic reduction, etc? And most people would consider $150 off street monthly parking a reasonable fee for a world class city such as this one.

Cappy
Cappy
6 days ago

…one more thing. Being houseless doesn’t give one a free pass. Sometimes holding a person accountable for their actions is a great service. As a parent, my children recognize they will be held responsible for their choices. Positive choices result in praise and sometimes rewards. Negative choices result in consequences. We offer lots of support services to our neighbors in need…accountability should be considered one as well.

CHOP Supporter
CHOP Supporter
6 days ago
Reply to  Cappy

If you cannot afford a house and shelters are full. What are you supposed to do? This is more poor-hating nonsense.

District13tribute
District13tribute
5 days ago
Reply to  CHOP Supporter

You should probably move somewhere you can afford to live. There is no reality where anyone who wants to live in Seattle will be able to live here. It’s great to help people out temporarily who are struggling or have had a setback but the notion we should support people indefinitely who have no possibility of becoming self sufficient is foolhardy.

Cappy
Cappy
5 days ago
Reply to  CHOP Supporter

The shelters are not full and people are turning down services offered, including housing, in order to continue. For whatever reason, if options are turned down then accountability should follow.

Park neighbor
Park neighbor
4 days ago
Reply to  Cappy

The City Council and their base of service providers also resist building congregate shelters so they can say there is nothing they can do about the encampments. A lot of people are maintaining their power and making money off the status quo which keeps the stream of drug addicts flowing into the city. I am beginning to think “housing first” is a massive grift.

CHOP Supporter
CHOP Supporter
6 days ago

Horrible news. Why does this city hate poor people so much?

Ballardite
Ballardite
6 days ago
Reply to  CHOP Supporter

It doesn’t hate poor people. RV’s need to be regularly moved to pump out sewage and refill fresh water tanks. Also to have electricity for battery recharges so that things in the RV can operate. Streets are not made for RV camping because they don’t provide drinking water hookups or electrical hookups. Furthermore, cities should not provide this unless a designated RV campsite is provided someplace. RV’s provide a safe place to live but only if they are appropriately used and maintained.

Poor Boy
Poor Boy
5 days ago
Reply to  CHOP Supporter

There’s a real problem with abandoned vehicles and scarce parking in some places. I’m pretty sure this is what they’re targeting, not the homeless. Still, it would be prudent to expand the safe parking sites in Ballard and Delridge for the upheaval this will likely bring.

Park neighbor
Park neighbor
6 days ago

It is about time. Our society needs a better social safety net, but Seattle (and other west coast cities) can’t serve this role for the entire country. We also need to acknowledge that this is a drug problem not just a housing problem. We have attracted thousands of troubled souls with our permissive policies and it is unsustainable. The mayor’s office estimated 60% of our houseless neighbors showed up homeless. If you want to see real change, vote out Mosqueda and Gonzales and vote for pragmatists that will provide shelter, services and enforcement.

Apotheosis
Apotheosis
6 days ago
Reply to  Park neighbor

Wholeheartedly agree. Seattle’s leadership and policies suffer from pathological altruism. We need pragmatic solutions that work – not blaming “society” for what in many cases are poor individual decisions.

Squire of Squire Park
Squire of Squire Park
6 days ago

Long overdue and very welcome. The announcement says clearly that SDOT will be focusing on unoccupied and abandoned vehicles. There are already legal protections for people living in their vehicles, who will require a different policy intervention than enforcing the 72-hour rule.

CHS Qwayne
CHS Qwayne
6 days ago

Parking enforcement at SDOT will not impound a vehicle with someone living in it unless it poses a specific risk to public health such as inadequate sanitation causing a direct risk of illness or injury, inadequate protection leaving the occupants exposed to the weather, or other environmental, fire, health and safety hazards.”

chris b
chris b
4 days ago

always been a bad idea to allow public space to become free storage for private vehicles. Free on street parking is the most regressive policy as only some people even have cars. This is even without acknowledging that one vehicle uses the same amount of space as several bicycles or dining tables.

Nandor
Nandor
4 days ago
Reply to  chris b

Yes, because we really need bicycle parking (overnight bikes would certainly be stolen, en masse. Even the best locks only slow thieves and the only safe place is inside) and dining tables on residential streets.

My parking is not free…. I pay for a parking sticker and I have the responsibility to maintain both the sidewalk and parking strip that is in front of my home – which was, by the way, built pre-motor vehicle, and is not on a large enough lot to retrofit with a driveway… even if I could the space to provide access to a driveway would remove two street parking spots…