FOLLOWUP: Now, no set date for Highland Park RV ‘safe lot’

(WSB photo)

When Mayor Murray first announced on January 19th that the city would open two “safe lots” for people living in RVs and other vehicles – one in Highland Park and one in Ballard – he said the city expected to have them open within 30 days.

While the one in Ballard made that timeline – opening February 19th – there’s been no sign of activity on the West Seattle site, a paved lot at W. Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way, aside from a canvas-covered chain-link fence around it. We’ve been asking city reps frequently for an update on the plan, and today there’s a new answer. From Katherine Jolly of the Human Services Department:

We are currently focused on getting the Ballard safe lot fully operational before we open the second lot. As you know, this is the first time the City has done this and we want to make sure we address many of the lessons learned in the first lot before we stand up a second one. I will keep you posted as we decide on a more specific timeline for the second Safe Lot.

The two lots together were originally announced as expected to hold a total of 50 vehicles; the most recent estimate for the Highland Park lot was 12. We have a followup question out to Jolly to ask about the current count at the Ballard lot, which had four when we went by two days after it opened.

15 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Now, no set date for Highland Park RV 'safe lot'"

  • Geronimo February 29, 2016 (2:02 pm)

    I rode by there today and was surprised to see that there were at least a dozen RVs in the Ballard lot.

  • Ellen February 29, 2016 (4:14 pm)

    I was starting to wonder, with the mayor beginning to publicly acknowledge that camps/RV lots are not effective, if the Highland Park Safe Lot would ever be opened.  I just upgraded my home security system but would be happy to never have to use it.

  • West Seattle Hipster February 29, 2016 (4:22 pm)

    Hopefully city “leaders” are realizing that Murraysville is not the best option.

  • Dale February 29, 2016 (4:47 pm)

    Wonder how long they’ll leave the recently erected temporary fence at that location.  I assume it’s costing taxpayers several hundred dollars a month until the politicians figure out what to do…

    • WSB February 29, 2016 (4:51 pm)

      The site had been mostly fenced since the encampment eviction a couple years back. All they did was add some to the front and then the canvas.

  • Krista C. February 29, 2016 (6:50 pm)

    I lived in Highland Park throughout the previous Nickelsville and I never noticed a decrease in crime when it was closed so I really don’t think crime will go up at all. I was totally fine with Nickelsville and I’m totally fine with having an RV lot in the neighborhood.

  • Ta March 1, 2016 (10:59 am)


    Thanks for sharing something based upon experience. I see a lot of fear based posts (which are a waste of readers time IMO) in many articles related to the homeless. I appreciate qualified input because it increases the value of the blog post. We have had many RV’s use 26th and Brandon as a stopover with no increase in crime either. The representative made a clear case as to why the safe lots could be successful using the new guidelines and resources. I will remain optimistic that people will soon get resources they need. 

  • Pile-o-Rox March 1, 2016 (12:59 pm)

     Ta – the resources are and have been there; as has the community outreach.


    We have shelter beds in centers that have not been at capacity for a period of years and outreach workers getting zero interest from the homeless community members they approach with offers of shelter (as detailed in a recent Seattle Times article, one worker recounted how on his most recent trip to the jungle he made an offer to 80 individuals for shelter for 6 months on the condition that they enroll in addiction counseling. There were no takers.

  • WenG March 1, 2016 (4:47 pm)

    “…we want to make sure we address many of the lessons learned in the first lot before we stand up a second one.”  This sounds rather disingenuous. What’s there to know? You’re a city with a legal dept. at the ready to coach you on do’s and don’ts. No matter how you feel about an RV camp in your neighborhood, these people don’t have  permanent shelter, and their numbers are growing in one of the wealthiest cities in the country. They’re not carefree snow birds living the dream.  

  • Eric March 2, 2016 (10:30 am)

    I have seen other posts from people living in the Highland Park neighborhood who did see an increase in petty crimes during Nickelsville. 

    From my own experience living a few blocks from Westwood Village during this time (and yes, I constantly saw people making the trek up the hill from Nickelsville into the Highland Park- Westwood area):

    This is when panhandling in Westwood became more common which it still is today.

    I and some of my neighbors saw an increase in petty crimes.

    I had an  increase or I should say  I started to see alcohol containers littering my yard on a regular basis. Before this, I didn’t have this issue.

    Quite a few obnoxious loud people who acted intoxicated arguing and fighting on what was before a rather quiet neighborhood. 

    This has since calmed down since Nickelsville closed. Though thanks to the transit hub trouble still brews at Westwood Village. 

    • Living in HP March 2, 2016 (11:06 am)

      I live directly up the hill from the former encampment and the soon to be RV shelter and we and several of my neighbors did see an increase in crime which did decrease when Nicklesville left.  Not sure where those who say they live near there actually live but we had much of the same issues as what Eric and his neighbors in Westwood describe.

  • Alan March 2, 2016 (11:54 am)

    I’m always a little puzzled when I see comments by people that “lived in HP” and didn’t see any issues related to Nicklesville. It isn’t that I don’t believe them, but I don’t think it tells us anything. I’m 60+ and have been in many banks and stores throughout my life, but have never seen one robbed. I wouldn’t suggest that those worrying about being a teller or cashier, especially if they have experienced a robbery, should just chill out about it. I know it happens, even though I haven’t seen it. If people want to call their neighbors liars, then they should come out and say it.

    I am really not worried too much about the RV parking itself. There have been RVs near that area for some time and it sounds like those let in will be committed to change. My concern is the greenbelt nearby. The contractor involved is already being pushed to allow guests and ease the curfew, according to an article in the Seattle Times. If guests are coming and going, I have to wonder where they are returning to. If people want to be near their friends, it seems likely they will park somewhere nearby or camp in the greenbelt. The suburbanites are my bigger concern.

  • Kara March 2, 2016 (2:59 pm)

    I’ve lived in White Center, Highland Park, the Junction, Ballard, and now Hilltop in Tacoma (work near Westwood) and guess what the problem with homelessness is everywhere and its bad: New York Times article

    Solutions, that’s all I want. I’m not gonna complain about anything cause I’m am so incredibly lucky to have the life I have…but so overwhelming sad that this is our city now. 

    • WSB March 2, 2016 (3:20 pm)

      Thank you, Kara. Local leaders have in turn asked the state and feds to help because it’s not just Seattle, and it’s not just Washington. Many cities, many states. The claim that people without homes are flocking here because of “freebies” is a myth. The majority of homeless people who are here list their last permanent pre-homelessness address as in King County. Meantime, Google almost any big city’s name and add the term homelessness and you’ll see – both coasts, inbetween, even half an ocean away in Honolulu (that story from a few months ago says HI has the highest rate per capita, followed by New York and Nevada). – TR

  • Eric March 3, 2016 (9:40 am)

    And the question is, why is that? There can be many reasons, but I don’t think homelessness is merely just a systemic issue

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