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Seattle's 'Safe Lots' Will Offer Temporary Legal Parking For The Homeless

Monica Spain
Artist Robert Williamson in his studio at Salty Dog Studios in Ballard.

Seattle is gearing up to open two “safe lots” – places where homeless people who live out of their cars can park overnight. There’s hope that the city-sanctioned lots will ease some of the problems for both the homeless and neighborhoods.

From the Salty Dog Studio in the Ballard neighborhood, Artist Robert Williamson has watched as increasing numbers of RVs appear on the street, often moving a matter of blocks to avoid parking tickets.

“This summer was something. I think it was just up to a new level,” said Williamson.

Williamson says it was like a festival with people building homes out of pallets, but some he says were selling drugs from their RV windows.

Now, the same blocks where there are signs saying, “no parking from 2-5 a.m.” will serve as temporary legal parking for homeless, giving the city a month to set up two permanent parking lots – one in Ballard and one in West Seattle.

“You know, having a sanctioned area isn’t — it will definitely be an improvement because there’ll be sanitation, there’ll be garbage disposal, which is a huge problem,” Williamson said.

Mayor Ed Murray says the safe lots aren’t a long-term solution, but one more step to permanent housing. Whether or not there’s enough housing is still a question for some at City Hall.