A recreational vehicle parked on the streets of Seattle with a makeshift plywood cabin built on top of it enrages neighbors as the city grapples with a homelessness epidemic.
Residents of the Ballard neighborhood first noticed construction on the rustic second floor last week and feared it could topple over on a passing car or pedestrian, according to KOMO TV.
“It’s called a cabin,” a woman from the classic Winnebago F-17 explained to the outlet, refusing to answer further questions.
Residents of the affluent neighborhood, which is full of chic bars and boutiques, say their streets are now lined with RVs and tent camps, blaming city leaders for not addressing the problem.
A recreational vehicle parked on the streets of Seattle with a makeshift plywood shack built on top has enraged neighbors who fear the structure could collapse on a pedestrian or car
“We feel that they have more rights than we do. I mean to go up (to add a story) we should have different permits,” neighbor Lane Imbler-Bremner.
Imbler-Bremner said he reported the makeshift double-decker bus to City Hall, but so far has not received a response.
Complicating matters, city officials appear baffled as to who has the supervisory authority and what ordinances the haphazard construction may be violating.
“As far as I know, I’ve never seen anything like it,” admitted a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.
An estimated 2,700 people live in cars and RVs in Seattle, and last month the Washington State Supreme Court banned the towing of vehicles used as homes.
The Seattle Times editors recently called the city’s handling of people sleeping in vehicles “a singular failure.”
Pedestrians walk past tents used by those without housing in Denny Park near the Space Needle in Seattle in March
Local residents (not homeless) are pictured in Miller Playfield park, despite the park’s homeless tent camp in a residential area of Seattle in March
Some business owners have resorted to blocking street parking with large boulders, with threats of fines and citations from city officials.
In Ballard, residents say RVs now line both sides of the street, now parked with impunity knowing they can’t be towed.
The makeshift double-decker bus is located behind Reuben’s Brew and Fremont Brewing Company, a heavily trafficked area surrounded by several residential streets.
“I want the city to go to them and tell them to demolish it,” entrepreneur Elise Vincentini told KOMO.
She said she feared the lax enforcement could encourage other RV owners in the area to build similar structures.
“Honestly, do we need that thing to fall over, then we’re going to do something?” she asked.
Seattle has more than 11,700 homeless people, the third largest homeless population in the country and second only to New York City and Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the city struggles with an increase in violent crime and a dire shortage of police officers after massive police layoffs.
Washington state saw a six percent increase in the number of homeless people in 2020. Pictured, homeless camps in downtown Seattle
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan can be seen above. City grapples with a surge in violent crime and a dire shortage of police officers after massive police layoffs
Last year, Seattle’s homicide rate rose 68 percent, with 52 homicides in 2020 compared to 31 in 2019.
There have been 31 homicides in the city this year, putting Seattle on pace to surpass 2019 levels once again.
The Seattle Police Department is still reeling from a 17 percent cut after attempting to relieve the police force last year, and nearly 300 officers have retired since early 2020.
Addressing the crisis at a press conference on July 28, Democrat Mayor Jenny Durkan said, “As a city, we cannot continue on this current trajectory of losing police officers.
“In the past 17 months, the Seattle Police Department has lost 250 police officers, equivalent to more than 300,000 hours of service. We are on our way to losing 300 police officers.’
Last week, Durkan announced that all police officers in Seattle would be required to receive vaccines for COVID-19, a mandate that sparked fears of more layoffs.
About 20 percent of the department’s 1,080 deployable officers have not yet been vaccinated, according to department data.