Seattle mayor creating 'safe lots' for homeless in cars, RVs

SEATTLE -- Mayor Ed Murray issued an emergency order in the wake of growing complaints about homeless people camping out in RVs and cars. He’s creating safe lots for the homeless to park their vehicles.

For weeks, homeowners in Ballard and Magnolia have complained to police and city officials, raising concerns about crime and safety with so many homeless people in their vehicles.

“There are piles of trash, piles of needles, and piles of human waste,” Harley Lever pointed out in Magnolia.

On Tuesday, Murray announced a temporary solution. Homeless people who live in their vehicles can legally park in an official safe lot and get access to emergency services. The Ballard site will be at the Yankee Diner parking lot at Shilshole Avenue NW and 24th Avenue NW. The Delridge site will be the Glass Yard lot at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way SW.

“It’s about time,” says Daniel Mageau, who lives in Ballard. “I think everybody needs a place.”

Some say designating a spot for the homeless would keep them from parking in neighborhoods.

“It seems like it would be out of their (residents') way a little more,” says Megan De’Angelo.

But not everyone is convinced. The lot in Ballard is just a block away from shops and restaurants on Market Street. City officials were asked if there was any consideration on how businesses could be affected.

“I recognize that there are neighborhood pressures,” answered Human Services Director Catherine Lester. “But what I would encourage people to remember is that people are in crisis.”

Since the mayor declared the homeless issue an emergency two months ago, the city has added beds in shelters and created official tent encampments. Homeowners hope all the efforts will help.

“I think we just need more resources for folks in our city,” says Iwona Owen.

The city is adding sanitation and garbage services now. They hope to open the safe lots in 30 days.