The City of Seattle is being blamed for doing nothing to prevent what is called the “RV auction shuffle.” The SoDo Business Improvement Area, that was tracking 75 RVs camping two years ago in the South Seattle industrial district and today is tracking 400, discovered that many have reappeared back in the neighborhood after being ticketed, towed and sold at auction, reports KOMO News.
“When all you got is that RV, whether it runs or not, that’s your home, it’s all you have,” says Mike Lazemby, who’s been living in an RV for three years.
When the rigs can’t move on their own, they are sometimes ticketed and impounded. Natalie says that’s what happened to hers. “I couldn’t afford the impound fees to get it back,” says Natalie, 31, who’s been living on the street since she was 18. Her RV went to auction, which the city allows when the “owner” can’t pay the impound and towing fees after 21 days. To her surprise, she’s seen it back on the street.
It’s a routine police have said privately that they are very aware of. Sometimes the RV’s are sold at auction for $10 or $15, running or not, and towed to the SoDo area to be rented out again.
Several RVs have been impounded by Seattle PD, towed to a storage lot at taxpayers’ expense and set for auction two to three times over the last year. A source associated with the shuffle says there are a lot more. But what many don’t know and police are aware of is the practice of renting out RVs that have been sold at auction.
“People want off the street so bad that they are willing to rent the RV,” says Lazemby. “But they are not realizing that the RV they are renting cost about as much per month as it did to buy the damn thing.”
City law says a vehicle cannot park in the same spot, anywhere in the city for more than 72 hours or it can be ticketed or towed. But RV street campers know police have been reluctant to enforce that law because of a court ruling that says a vehicle can be declared as someone’s homestead, which you cannot take away.
That case is now on appeal, but RV owners know the city has shown a reluctance to force an RV that appears to be someone’s residence to move – unless it’s become a health and safety risk.
There is a pilot project in the works that would establish a free RV camping lot in Seattle for the homeless sometime in the first quarter of 2019. When it opens and where it will be has not been determined.