Spokane City Council exploring solutions to RV shelters on residential streets

Spokane City Council exploring...

Spokane city leaders are trying to figure out how to help people living in recreational vehicles across the city. Councilwoman Kate Burke is leading the discussion after hearing complaints and concerns from many of her constituents.

According to Spokane Municipal Code, it’s unlawful to park a motor home or camper on the street in a residential zone of the city or for longer than four continuous hours for active loading or unloading. The code goes on to note that overnight parking between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. is also illegal.

People are still parking their recreational vehicles on the streets and living in them, despite city code. It’s an eye sore for many neighborhoods and causes crime concerns for residents like Jean Richmond, who found a rundown RV parked outside her home at the corner of Desmet Avenue and Hogan Street early Sunday morning with a transient living inside.

“They have junk piled all around the RV and the smell is horrible – like sewage,” said Richmond.

Tabs on the RV, which no longer runs, expired in 2008. Richmond says a white pickup towed it to her front lawn and dropped it off.

“The one thing this man did say to me is he does not like living in this RV,” Richmond said.

Spokane City Councilmember Kate Burke said she wants to work with other city leaders and residents to connect RV dwellers with resources.

“I think it’s something we need to really start humanizing people’s experiences and make sure that they know that we are listening to what they’re going through and that we don’t want to make their life harder, we want to help them get to housing, get to shelter,” Burke said.

Discussion is still early on this issue, but leaders are already weighing some ideas. Councilwoman Candace Mumm suggested a program where people get passes to park in designated areas with water and sewer hookups. Then, city outreach agencies can go to them to help them get back on their feet.

Burke said she’d like to hear from people across Spokane who have suggestions to solve this issue or personal experience living in an RV on the streets. You can email her at kateburke@spokanecity.org.