The city will begin to start proactively reducing the number of RVs that keep reappearing on Seattle streets after being towed for violations.
A practice known as “car-ranching” has become prevalent in places like Ballard and SODO. So-called “ranchers” have been buying towed RVs and cars at city auctions and putting them back on the streets to rent them to homeless people.
With new city legislation, towed vehicles and RVs deemed hazardous (according to Junk Vehicle state criteria) will now be destroyed, rather than going to auction. And, the city will start to investigate and fine the landlords who rent RVs and cars in poor conditions to vulnerable populations. Remediations of up to $2,000 will go into a restitution fund for vehicle occupants.
“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,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “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.”
While he supports cracking down on predatory landlords, City Councilmember Mike O’Brien voiced some concerns over the new legislation — he’s concerned that those living in RVs or vehicles may be forced to move into a less-safe tent.
O’Brien told the Seattle Times he’d prefer to see RV- and vehicle-dwellers in a safe, city-sanctioned parking lot. The city has approved funding the parking lot program, but hasn’t yet found a suitable location.
File photo of RVs on Thorndyke in Interbay