Announced today by the city – enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule will resume in a week. The announcement says the first priority will be to clear “unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.” As for vehicles being used as residences:
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.
So what might that mean to longrunning RV encampments like the one alongside the Nucor Steel plant on SW Andover?
This week, Nucor management sent us a statement from vice president/general manager Matthew Lyons, expressing frustration with the situation. Here’s what he wrote:
The West Seattle neighborhood where Nucor Steel is located, like countless neighborhoods across the city, is experiencing the difficult work of addressing the needs of unhoused people in our city. At Nucor, safety is our most important core value as a company, including the safety of our teammates and our neighbors in the communities where we operate. We are concerned that an RV encampment on city property along the fence line of our manufacturing plant is presenting a public safety threat to residents of the encampment, our teammates, and surrounding neighbors. For example, Nucor teammates and contractors have been threatened with violence and our facility has been broken into numerous times and items have been stolen. Trespassing is occurring with greater frequency and presents a significant safety hazard to those trespassing and to our teammates as we are a 24-hour, seven day a week manufacturing facility.
We know the homelessness crisis is complex and that those living outside face many challenges. We would like to work with the city of Seattle and local nonprofits who assist people who are unhoused to find housing options for residents of the encampment. We believe the location of this encampment poses a potential safety risk to its residents and Nucor teammates and contractors. It would be in the best interest of people living in the encampment, our business and the West Seattle community for our company, local nonprofits and the city to work together to find a solution.
Along with the statement, we received this letter Lyons had sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan four months ago, going into further details about why the company believes the RV encampment meets city parameters for removal as an urgent hazard. A company spokesperson tells us, “Nucor has made several attempts to contact multiple city officials both before and after the letter was sent in June, but with very limited success.”
Now comes the news that the city is reviving the 72-hour parking rule. While today’s announcement said parking enforcement “will not impound a vehicle with someone living in it” in most situations, does that mean no tickets or warning notices? We took that question to SDOT. Their response reiterated that residential vehicles would have to be deemed hazardous, and added:
The first step of enforcement for any type of vehicle is to leave an official warning notice giving the vehicle owner at least 72 hours to move their vehicle. If it appears that people may be living one of these vehicles, we will provide the occupants information about assistance and support services and resources along with a warning notice, or attach this information to the vehicle.
Vehicles which move to another location voluntarily will not be in violation of the 72-hour rule. If a vehicle needs to be repaired to be driven, we will attempt to be flexible and work with the owner and provide a reasonable amount of time if they are demonstrating a good faith effort to get the vehicle repaired.
We first reported on the Andover RV encampment almost six years ago – at which time some of the vehicles already were displaying orange warning notices.