Towing and disposing of abandoned and broken down RVs costs the city of Seattle hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, which expenditures to many indicate a City Hall that doesn’t have its priorities straight.
It’s also emblematic of what’s been called the RV shuffle, where street campers stay way beyond the 72-hour limit to park, move around and in some cases see their RV impounded, sold at auction (sometimes for $1), then appear back on the street again, reports KOMO News.
Seattle Police tag vehicles with 72-hour warning notices or they face a costly impound and a citation. When they don’t move or they are abandoned, the RVs are towed to a storage lot in north Seattle operated by Lincoln Towing, the city towing contractor.
There’s an attempt to contact the titled owner to have them come to the lot to pick up their RV. To release it, the owner must pay impound and storage fees that can be hundreds of dollars.
If they don’t show up or the owner can’t be found after 21 days, the tow company gets the city to issue an abandoned vehicle report and the RV is set for auction or a police officer declares an impounded RV as “junk” as defined by state law.
At that point, Lincoln is obligated to dispose of them at taxpayers’ expense and the cost is eye-popping. The recycler chosen to dispose of the RVs is Scrapit in Ferndale, 90 miles north of Seattle.
Scrapit charges 8 cents a pound to remove and recycle the engine oil, pump the sewer tanks and remove and recycle as much metal and tires as it can. The remainder goes to a landfill.
City records show since the contract was amended in February 2017 until August 2018, Lincoln was reimbursed $398,764.92 for towing 265 RVs to Ferndale and scrapping them. Because of weight, some cost more than others, but the average is $1,505 per RV.
The city budgeted $512,500 for disposal for the same time period.
KOMO asked representatives of several city departments for interviews to rationalize the spending of $1,500 to dispose of an RV nobody would pay even $1 for at auction. KOMO was referred to the mayor’s office but they have yet to speak to someone with authority on the matter.