Article: Seattle’s safe lot

from this article:

The last vestige of former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to create parking lots for homeless people who sleep in their vehicles is an inhospitable scrap of land in the industrial tangle of the Sodo District. ... It’s a noisy place: One side of the parking lot is next to busy railroad tracks, another side is next to the Spokane Street viaduct, and it’s under the flight path.

I have zero problems with that.  If the area is undesirable for commercial or residential uses because of the noise, that makes the city’s opportunity costs very low – they make it available to homeless campers without goring any oxen.

Seattle city government has not been united about what its primary focus should be: to get people out of their vehicles and into housing? Or simply get their vehicles off the streets?

I’m not sure the city should be focused on either, depending on what the meaning of “off the streets” is:

  • remove overnight campers who are not otherwise breaking laws? - leave them alone

  • placate NIMBYs? – leave them alone

  • assist campers who violate parking limit rules because their vehicles are inoperable? – yes, provide a place off the streets.

Bill Kirlin-Hackett, director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness and a longtime advocate for vehicle campers, is tired of waiting. “If we had any pride in what we were trying to do, for the dignity of people, we would have provided something more hospitable” than the current lot, he said.

Right, but saying so in public will only provide red meat to the hardcore “screw the homeless” crowd, the NIMBYs , and the busybodies.

IMO the most production action for advocates:  make best use of whatever is offered.  Seek to defray any costs to the city by having portable toilet vendors provide one of theirs, dumpster vendors donate one of theirs, and organize rides to food banks, showers, and other services.   Minimize the amount of work the city has to do to keep it open.  Teach the clients to  steward the resource wisely.  Want to keep your slot here?  Clean up the area. Act civilized.