Awaiting the West Seattle ‘safe lot’: Newest SPD info on local RV camping

Exactly two months ago today, Mayor Murray announced two “safe lots” would be set up for RV/vehicle campers within one month, one in Ballard, and one at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW. As we’ve been reporting, the local one is more or less on hold. And we’ve continued to learn more about the situation, including the latest community-council briefing by Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith. Asked about the West Seattle RV-camper situation at Thursday night’s Alki Community Council meeting, he explained a site we’ve been asked about lately, on the west side of Myers Way a few blocks south of Olson:

(WSB photo, taken Friday)

RVs that are awaiting the “safe lot,” said Lt. Smith, are “staged” at the Myers Way spot. (At another recent meeting, he had said police had found nine RVs eligible for the future “safe lot,” which is more than were at Myers yesterday/today.) He explained that the campers there “turned out to be very cooperative” and have been cleaning up – they’ve used city-supplied garbage bags for that. Some RVs in the area have been towed, though – making the distinction between “cooperative” and towable, Lt. Smith said, “”If it’s a criminal enterprise, they’re not homeless, and that’s our interpretation unless we’re told otherwise.” They’re not towing those who seem to be truly homeless, but they are offering services. “If they’re honestly trying to make an effort, we’re going to provide every service we can. … I hate to paint all of them with the same brush – you meet a broad spectrum of people living in the RVs, as you do when you’re walking down the street.”

But SPD is still wondering when the “safe lot” will be cleared to open – they’re waiting on “downtown” to give the word. The Human Services Department told WSB three weeks ago that it’s waiting until it can benefit from “lessons learned” at the Ballard lot, which did open a month after the mayor’s declaration. But that lot is maxed out, Lt. Smith noted, with 16 RVs at last check determined to be the most it could hold. That’s about how many we counted, taking a quick look while passing through Ballard last weekend:

(WSB photo, March 12th)

That’s less than half what the city had originally said they’d hoped the Ballard lot would hold.

Meantime, some at the ACC meeting thought RV residents might need some help with how and where to store their belongings, and offered ideas – Lt. Smith suggested they talk to both the mayor and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Meantime, the SW Precinct’s Community Police Team remains the primary point of contact for the local RV/encampment issues.

9 Replies to "Awaiting the West Seattle 'safe lot': Newest SPD info on local RV camping"

  • Marianne March 20, 2016 (8:40 am)

    I drive that route everyday to work and noticed the growing number of RVs parked in that pullout.  It is good to know that the city is working with the people living in them.  I am pretty impressed that the huge amount of garbage I see bagged up is all the work of the residents of the RVs.  While driving down 509 last night I noticed cleanup on the other side of the green space where people  have been camping.  Target might want to send some employees and trucks over there.  There were many red shopping carts among the piles of cleaned up garbage.

  • LC March 21, 2016 (3:06 pm)

    Good thing the spring foliage is starting to fill in and cover up these eyesores all over Seattle!

  • Mark March 29, 2016 (11:46 am)

    I drove by the Ballard one yesterday and it is now full.  What an eyesore as well as a stupid idea

  • tmonroe March 30, 2016 (5:20 pm)

    Hey – somebody from the city needs to pick up the garbage the residents collected. The bags have been out for 2 weeks or more, and the bags are beginning to break down and the contents are beginning to spill out all over the place.

    Also, somebody might mention to the residents that they need to keep those places clean – the garbage is already starting to pile up again (so no we have the “old” garbage spilling out from the plastic bags the residents collected, and the “new” garbage strewn all about the encampment). 

  • Crobi March 31, 2016 (9:10 am)

    Is the site on Myers where the permanent “safe camp” will be? This is about a quarter mile from my home. I can’t say I’m happy about this. Every time I drive by there are more rvs and it’s trashed. I saw a couple of women there yesterday who looked strung out and the way they were standing facing the road suggested to me that they were soliciting. If this is the camp’s permanent site, will the city compensate nearby homeowners (like me) for the drop in property value this will no doubt cause? I have a toddler and a newborn and would like to move to a better school district before they are in school. This certainly won’t help with that.

  • Crobi March 31, 2016 (9:28 am)

    Oh. Thank you. I’m glad to hear it isn’t permanent. It’s still extemely frustrating to have no idea if/when this site will be closed. I know that may sound cold of me, but I just don’t think this is fair to area homeowners. I also don’t think this a real solution to helping those in need. 

    • tmonroe March 31, 2016 (2:47 pm)

      Crobi – we must be neighbors.  I live about the same distance from the Myer’s way lot. RVs have been on and off parking there for the last year or so (as you probably know). I wouldn’t expect the city to do anymore about them than they did before.

      OTOH, isn’t that right next to the police training center? Sounds like an opportunity for some On-the-job training for some of the officers in class. (Seriously, yes, it is all about crime, these criminals have been scouring the neighborhoods during the day, and if something isn’t done, it’s only going to get worse)…

      • WSB March 31, 2016 (3:00 pm)

        The Joint Training Facility is operated by Seattle Fire, not Seattle Police, and is mostly that type of training – rescue, firefighting, etc. And yes, police have been dealing with the RVs on Myers, as well as the encampments – we’ve reported updates several times this month, and also have heard the scanner dispatches. However, I have not yet heard what happens now that there’s no longer a plan for a “safe lot” in this area. The Community Police Team is in charge of dealing with RV campers – if you’re experiencing or want to report a problem, google the number for the Southwest Precinct CPT and please call them. Or, if you have a crime in progress, 911.

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