City 143rd and Linden Avenue North
posted by June 14 at 16:14 PMon
With Seattle’s insanely expensive real estate market showing no signs of slowing, a new housing market is emerging: urban car camping.
The decrepit, road-worn Winnebagos and camper vans - clothing and food wrappers piled ceiling high - parked along Linden Avenue North, from 130th to 145 in North Seattle’s Bitter Lake neighborhood, are becoming a more common sight in SoDo or Ballard. However, Bitter Lake residents say they’ve been dealing with campers for years and are finally starting to get attention from the city.
While living in a vehicle isn’t technically illegal, campers are leaving garbage and human waste along city streets and the Seattle Police Department says campers are bringing crime into neighborhoods.
Sergeant Diane Newson, head of the Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct Community Police Team, says the mostly residential Bitter Lake neighborhood, just west of Aurora Avenue near the Seattle/Shoreline border, has seen an influx of drugs and prostitution and says the campers are to blame: “They are wasting their lives, spending their money on drugs and alcohol. [They’re] not the [kind] homeless people you feel sorry for. A lot of them are on welfare or unemployment” but have refused social services offered by SPD. “Most of them don’t want help. It’s a lifestyle choice. If your life is your next fix, you don’t really care,” Newsom says.
Several days ago, Newsom placed orange stickers on 10 different motor homes, giving notice the vehicles needed to move off the block within 72 hours, a standard parking rule in Seattle which The Stranger’s very own ECB has been ticketed and towed for. Despite the notices, campers just move down the street or around the block and Newsom says “The problem is, [car camping] is not against the law.”
The mobile homes on Linden have become a high priority for SPD because, according to Newsom, “People don’t feel safe when those motor homes are parked in front of their house.”
Broadview Community Council President Dale Johnson says Linden has attracted so many car campers because of the unfinished streets. Johnson believes that the lack of sidewalks in his North Seattle neighborhood is the main reason Linden has drawn so many campers. “Car camping goes to out of the way derelict areas. In the last 3-5 years, that street has been a derelict street. Clearly it’s an unfortunate situation. We’d like to make that into a livable street. We’re lobbying to have the city keep the promise it made 10 years ago, to improve Linden sidewalks. “It could be a very nice little corner of the city,” Johnson says.
Pics courtesy of the Broadview Community Council