SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department posted orange notices on RVs parked at an encampment in Ballard this week warning residents the city planned to tow any vehicles and clear any tents or belongings that remained on the road by Thursday.
The citations and warnings come after weeks of frustrations from business owners and residents as tents, RVs, and trash consume the area along Northwest Ballard Way.
Some of the notices are dated May 22, which was the day before an RV parked at the encampment was destroyed in a large fire.
“The last couple weeks was the worst I’ve ever seen," said Walt, who operates a landscaping company nearby and asked to only use his first name.
People in the area told KOMO News the RVs shift from one block to the next anytime the city comes through to do enforcement.
RELATED | RV explodes in flames as Ballard encampment multiplies by the day
“It is a ticket to move in 72 hours, otherwise they just tow your RV, and it's crazy," said Abigail Lucas, who lives in one of the RVs. “If we are not out of here by the date, then ya, they just tow your vehicle or home.”
The nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) is preparing to open a new “RV safe lot” in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood where 30 RVs will be able to park and residents can connect to services. The site will also host a tiny home village.
Councilmember Dan Strauss, who represents District 6, sent KOMO News the following statement this week when asked what is being done to prevent RV encampments from spreading and growing:
Partnering with Mayor Harrell, my office has helped expand our citywide homelessness response by having neighborhood-based homelessness response teams to draw down encampments by getting people inside rather than pushing people around the community. I have been working with small businesses, residents, and city departments to address the encampments on and around 11th and Leary Ave. I have already spoken to Deputy Mayor Washington about this incident and will continue working with the Mayor to address homelessness in District 6.
City data shows a reduction of RV encampments on the streets between the end of 2022 to the end of March. However, the city acknowledged the data is just a point in time, and many RV sites move or are repopulated quickly. KOMO News recently profiled the tow company responsible for handling all of the junk RVs.
The owner of Lincoln Towing in North Seattle told KOMO News he is currently trying to dispose of more than 200 junk RVs.
“It’s the ugly underbelly of the homeless crisis, that’s what it is,” owner Chuck Labertew said. “[The RVs] are garbage, they are unsafe. Bacteria, blackwater, rodents, who wants to live like that?"
RELATED | 'The ugly underbelly': Seattle tow yard storing hundreds of RVs removed from encampments
According to the city's interactive map which tracks homeless camps, Ballard has one of the highest concentrations of RV encampments in the city. Duwamish/SODO tops the list at 158 encampments as of March, while Ballard has 49.
The chart counts both tents and RVs found in city encampments.
Navid Paydavosi lives in the Crown Hill neighborhood and witnessed the large RV fire at the Ballard encampment earlier this week. He has organized a petition calling on city officials to "permanently address unauthorized RV encampments."
RELATED I Business owners in Ballard frustrated by 'endless spiral' of RV encampments
Paydavosi said the RV encampments in his neighborhood, located near 8th Avenue Northwest and Holman Road Northwest, have caused significant disruptions and hazards for the residents.
“I really feel unsafe," Navid said. "We had the discussion, shall we move from Seattle and go somewhere else? That is how bad it is getting."