New law to exempt “residence” cars from law enforcement

Posted on August 10th, 2017 by Sara


By reporter Steven Smalley

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien plans to introduce a new ordinance before the City Council next week that would exempt vehicles used as residences from almost all car safety laws and parking restrictions.
“I think it is important for the public to be fully informed on this legislation,” writes Scott Lindsay, former public safety advisor to Mayor Ed Murray and now candidate for Seattle City Attorney.
“As drafted, this proposed ordinance is a major step in the wrong direction,” Lindsay writes in an open letter.
The following is an edited version of the letter in opposition to O’Brien’s proposed law:
“In short, the bill says if a vehicle is potentially being used as a residence then it is exempt from enforcement of the city’s safety codes particularly prohibitions on junk vehicles that are not street safe; oversized vehicles parked on neighborhood streets; and most of the city’s parking restrictions including 2-hour parking limits, commercial load zone, etc.”
“Shockingly, the bill would also exempt from impound residential vehicles used in the commission of a crime of sexual exploitation – a critical law enforcement tool used to deter pimps and johns from taking advantage of the most vulnerable.”
“The effect of the legislation would make residential vehicles beyond the law. That will not help vehicle residents get into shelter faster, will not keep them safe in their vehicles, and would have a dramatic impact on the landscape of neighborhoods across the city.”
“Councilmember O’Brien has laid out a plan for the bill to be considered in his Transportation Committee on Tuesday, August 15 and then voted out of his Committee to the full Council on September 8. Seattle needs to do more to address the homelessness and addiction gripping our streets. That should mean investing in compassionate programs that work, not those that have already failed. Seattle previously piloted safe lots for those living in their vehicles. According to the Human Services Department, the cost of that program, including Porta Potties, water, and case management, was almost $2,000 per vehicle per month – in other words, it costs as much to responsibly support someone in their vehicle as it does to get them into traditional housing. Unfortunately, few people transitioned to safer shelter during that pilot program.”
“We can do better.”
Lindsay goes on to provide details on the proposed bill:
“The bill exempts vehicles used as a ‘dwelling place’ from almost all parking restrictions and enforcement provisions of the Seattle Municipal Code.
Vehicular Residence Defined:
Passenger vehicle
Commercial vehicle
Junk motor vehicle
Private carrier bus
School bus
Shuttle bus
Sightseeing or charter bus
Motor vehicle with camper
Motor home (RV)”

“Vehicular Residences Exempt from Safety Laws –
No enforcement for vehicle residence that is defined as a ‘junk vehicle’ – unsafe for operation on city streets
No enforcement for vehicle residence used in the commission of a crime of sexual exploitation
No enforcement for missing license plates or tabs expired greater than 45 days
No enforcement for vehicle residence with four or more unpaid tickets
Vehicular Residences Exempt from Parking Restrictions –
No enforcement for parking overtime, e.g., expired meter, 2-hour time limit, or 72-hour restriction.
No enforcement for parking in a restricted zone, e.g., commercial zone or load zone.
No enforcement for having expired tabs/improper plates.”

More information from Scott Lindsay here.


3 responses to “New law to exempt “residence” cars from law enforcement”

  1. Shirley Glas says:

    If this bill passes, I would hope someone would place an ad in the newspapers with the addresses of the mayor and city council members. I would encourage people to live in a junky car, truck or RV in front of their homes for a while. Another idea let’s live on downtown streets. Oh Merced would be great too.

  2. Willianm peasob says:

    This crazy , this not solveing problem

  3. Dena says:

    Well?! Did it pass or not?!

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