Sep 26, 2008

Homelessness and "Car Camping"

This Ballard News-Tribune article caught my eye:

The Ballard Homes for All Coalition is preparing to create car camps in neighborhood parking lots this fall for homeless people living out of their vehicles.

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36th District), founder of the coalition, said the purpose of the car camps, which would be four to five vehicles large, is to create a safe and secure place for the homeless to park.
The last comment on the the article noted a successful program in Santa Barbara (recently profiled in this BBC article). My spy in Santa Barbara notes:
suspect the reference is to a small program in which churches offer overnight parking in their parking lots. I believe there is some screening as to who is accepted -- no drunks, etc. -- and could find out more if you are interested. A lot for city employees is also used, I believe, because I remember reading a complaint about the mess left behind by the overnighters but the complainer is someone extremely concerned about her neighborhood, to judge from other comments she has made.
It makes a small dent in a big problem.
Lots of church parking lots in our neighborhood. Is this something we should encourage?


Anonymous said...

There has already been a bit of a kerfuffle over "car campers" around Mt Zion Baptist. Certain vans had been parking on the street/public spaces for weeks at a time, dumping litter (among other things) on the ground, and only moving just enough to avoid being towed when the orange stickers appeared.

One day, two of the vans ended up parking in the grassy lot across 20th from Mt Zion, and after a day or two, the cops were out and telling them to vacate, since it was private property. Turns out the church owns the lot, and decided to "turn the other cheek" and let them stay. After a few months, vans began accumulating in the lot, and the neighbours got very upset, placing posters and anti-van-camper messages in their home windows. Soon thereafter, the something broke, and the cops were escorting the vans out of the lot.

Really, all it seemed to accomplish was anger the neighbourhood.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I feel about this. As far as I know there is nothing to prevent someone from "car camping" on city streets as long as they move every 24 hours. We had a pretty bad experience here on 21st and Thomas with some campers this summer. The first couple calls to the police didn't do any good, they said no laws are being broken. After a week plus with lots litter and a putrid smell coming from the bushes by the car the car finally disappeared. Maybe the cops finally decided that using my neighbors yard as a toilet and the sidewalk as a dump is breaking a law.

After my rant I think I've decided this a good idea at least the designated spots can provide some services (Honey Buckets).

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