Mayor proposes changing city’s RV-resale/rental laws

(WSB photo, Avalon/Yancy, last March)

What happens to RVs after they’re towed? The city told us that one, which we happened to spot last March, was a private tow ordered by its owner for repairs. But sometimes even the ones in the worst shape wind up auctioned or resold and back on the streets. According to a news release from the mayor’s office this afternoon, she’s hoping to change the rules:

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced new steps today to stem the supply of hazardous vehicles by preventing the re-sale of towed cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) and preventing the rental of hazardous vehicles to vulnerable individuals. The City will continue its work through the RV Remediation Program to clean up the public right of way to mitigate the public health hazards of debris, garbage and waste adjacent to RVs.

“We have an obligation to protect public health and ensure that our neighbors are not living in inhumane conditions. And we will hold accountable those who prey on vulnerable people for profit,” said Mayor Durkan. “We will continue to work for holistic solutions and do more to connect people with services and housing – and we will continue to invest in the strategies we know have an impact, like our Navigation Team.”

To stem the supply of dilapidated and hazardous vehicles in Seattle, Mayor Durkan has directed all City departments to begin applying additional criteria on whether a car or RV that has been towed by a City contractor meets the definition of a public health hazard. In the event an RV is designated as a public health hazard, it will be destroyed instead of re-sold back into the market at auction. Her directive will focus on preventing the re-sale of vehicles that meet the Junk Vehicle criteria set by the state and vehicles that are posing significant public health, fire, or safety hazards.

Next week, Mayor Durkan will transmit legislation that updates the Seattle Municipal Code to fine predatory landlords who rent cars and vehicles including RVs in poor and inoperable conditions to vulnerable populations. The legislation will require remediation of up to $2,000, which will go into a restitution fund for vehicle occupants.

The new steps build on the RV Remediation Program established by Mayor Durkan in May 2018 to mitigate the negative impacts to public health and safety, from RVs in the public right of way. In the pilot, City teams engage individuals living in RVs and vehicles to voluntarily move their vehicles to allow for cleaning and the removal of garbage, debris, and inoperable or unsafe vehicles left behind. Last year, the program resulted in 161 tons of garbage and debris removed.

The program has resulted in 173 vehicles being towed because they were inoperable, unsafe or posed a threat to public health, but in 2018, 60 of the 173 – 53 percent – had been removed from a clean-up site with significant safety and health risks returned to the marketplace. As a part of this effort, the City can now more easily deem a vehicle unfit to return to the market and process it for disposal.

KOMO TV reported last fall on what they dubbed “the RV auction shuffle.” Meantime, Real Change News reported half a year before that, that the city had spent $225,000 in 2017 on towing and disposing of RVs.

25 Replies to "Mayor proposes changing city's RV-resale/rental laws"

  • Jim P. June 12, 2019 (3:26 pm)

    Sounds like the state needs to get involved and set minimum safety, operability and health standards before any RV can be registered to a new owner and given plates to use or parked on public roads.Require regular inspections before new tags are issued ass well.  Should be a basic requirement of any motor vehicle to be inspected on a regular basis before it is allowed on the road.

    • 1994 June 12, 2019 (9:24 pm)

      Jim P has a wonderful idea. The state should implement it and save us from these dangerous rolling dumps!  Next up, the city should enforce the parking rules and tell the motor home dwellers to relocate to a long term RV park.

    • Alex S. June 13, 2019 (3:56 pm)

      Years ago – back in the ’90’s – I do recall that the WSP would do a visual inspection of cars. I forget if it was when you first licensed it in-state, or after it was involved in a fender bender.  Either way, I remember you had to have both side view mirrors in tact, and all bumpers before they allowed the vehicle on the road.   Seems like pretty basic safety, but these days I see all kinds of junk cars and RVs rolling down the road with protruding plastic metal and plastic pieces that could do serious damage in even a slow speed collision. 

  • TM7302 June 12, 2019 (4:06 pm)

    161 tons of garbage and debris removed, let that sink in for a moment…

    • KM June 12, 2019 (6:11 pm)

      The residents of Seattle send more than 800,000 tons a year out of homes and businesses. Let that sink in for a moment.

      • Mike June 12, 2019 (6:35 pm)

        Ya, but we get fined if we have toxic waste draining into the storm drains or left out and about.  Nothing like some hazmat suit quality toxic waste from stolen goods leaking into our water ways.  Mmmmm… instant death.

      • Think June 12, 2019 (6:47 pm)

        There’s a big difference between 161 tons of litter and waste dumped from illegal camping and 800 tons of garbageproperly discarded and paid for by homeowners, renters, and businesses. Let that sink in.

      • Kram June 12, 2019 (7:18 pm)

        I don’t think the point is the amount but that they do not pay for it. The tax paying residents pay for both.

      • uncle loco June 12, 2019 (7:18 pm)

        The residents of Seattle also pay a lot of money to have their trash disposed of properly.

      • Thoma Wood June 12, 2019 (7:22 pm)

        True but that’s for a population of 727,724 not a couple of thousand .Think about that? And we pay to dispose of it ,not just dump it on the streets

  • flimflam June 12, 2019 (4:33 pm)

    any and all vehicles in the city need to be in working order, have tabs and be insured…that is pretty basic and not much to ask, really. equal parking enforcement would be nice as well.

  • chemist June 12, 2019 (5:33 pm)

    “in 2018, 60 of the 173 – 53 percent – had been removed from a clean-up
    site with significant safety and health risks returned to the
      Must be a typo from the mayor’s office because 60 of 173 is ~35%.

    • Sixbuck June 12, 2019 (6:28 pm)

      Probably “new math”. The City is never wrong. 

  • anonyme June 12, 2019 (5:39 pm)

    TM7302, that figure staggered me as well.  Wonder how much that cost us taxpayers?  The idea that “teams” try to gently encourage these illegal campers to move temporarily so that taxpayers can clean up the illegal mess they have made – but play NO part in cleaning up – is absolutely disgusting. 

  • MJ June 12, 2019 (5:50 pm)

    Jim P I would requirement of mandating that all operators be properly insured !

    • Mike June 12, 2019 (6:38 pm)

      Already is mandatory, it’s a state law.  Sadly if you get hit by one of these you are dealing with your own insurance and since they have nothing, you can’t really sue to have them pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs after your $200k insurance is tapped out.

    • Jim P. June 12, 2019 (6:51 pm)

       I don’t drive so just assumed one had to have insurance.  Wow, that’s beyond dumb.Personal responsibility is out of fashion to the death of society in time I think.  “Can’t afford it”?  Not an excuse.  Do without.  I manage just fine without driving.

  • Tim June 12, 2019 (6:54 pm)

    So I buy a funky RV and the city will pay me 2k for the removal? Business opportunity? I’m going to buy a few.

  • ttt June 12, 2019 (7:19 pm)

    This is a step in the right direction. 

  • jack June 12, 2019 (7:31 pm)

    Current license tabs?   Good luck.

  • West Seattle Hipster June 12, 2019 (8:04 pm)

    City leaders doing the right thing for a change?  An election must be coming soon.

    • WSB June 12, 2019 (8:14 pm)

      FWIW the next election for mayor isn’t until 2021.

    • Alkimark June 12, 2019 (10:38 pm)

      Just what I thought the mayor is feeling the heat from the council elections.  Wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of her Governor asperations…

      • Eric1 June 13, 2019 (12:18 am)

        Mark, I never thought of that angle for the mayor.  Thus I see the urgency…  She might be governor sooner than you think if Inslee becomes President…  ROFLMAO

  • Rick June 13, 2019 (1:19 am)

    Just park the damn things in front of J’s or any SCC member abodes and you know it will be dealt with pronto. And while we’re speaking of inslee, I like how he asked fellow d’s to cool it on the gov race just in case his spectacular race for pres doesn’t pan out so he can be guv again.

Sorry, comment time is over.