Seattle to open 'safe lots' for homeless living in cars, RVs

SEATTLE -- The mayor's office announced a plan Tuesday for three temporary parking areas while two "safe lots," in Ballard and Delridge, are set up for homeless individuals and families to park their RVs or cars.

“These are not long term solutions to end homelessness, but temporary locations that can be managed to provide a safer environment for those living on our streets and have less impact on our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “The City’s active case management services will reach out to those experiencing homelessness and living in their vehicles, with the goal to help move them to permanent housing as quickly as possible. These safe lots will also help reduce the public health issues currently impacting several of our neighborhoods.”

The new lots are part of Murray's Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness which authorized several tent encampments and the expansion of new shelters along with additional outreach.

The mayor is sending an emergency order to be voted on by Seattle City Council.

    According the news release: "The Ballard site, the Yankee Diner parking lot at Shilshole Ave. NW and 24th Ave. NW, is owned by Seattle Public Utilities. The Seattle Department of Transportation has been in negotiations with the Washington State Department of Transportation to acquire the Glass Yard lot at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way SW for the Delridge site. The City and WSDOT are discussing the terms of the sale of the property and will likely require future legislation to finalize the purchase and sale agreement. But to accommodate the Mayor’s emergency order, WSDOT has agreed to allow the City to use the site as a safe lot in the intervening period during these negotiations."

    While the two permanent lots are being set up, three temporary permitted street parking zones will be established under the mayor's emergency order. These zones will be in places for 30 days and provide sanitation services:

      “Homelessness extends far beyond our City’s limits and I look forward to working with human service providers, faith institutions, and King County leaders to create more safe spaces. This is a strong beginning, but not the end of delivering better care for neighbors who need our support,” said councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

      Neighbors have expressed concern about the tent encampments located in Interbay and Ballard.