Storm co-owner's Interbay property to host region's first safe parking lot for RVs

A search lasting nine months for a new site for a company included over 50 properties.

Storm co-owner's Interbay property to host region's first safe parking lot for RVs

Low Income Housing Institute announced on Friday that it is creating a parking lot for recreational vehicle owners in Seattle's Interbay area.

The property is owned by a limited liability company run by Ginny Gillder, co-owner of Seattle Storm.

The issue of people sleeping in their cars or RVs is an important one across the nation, and this includes King County. Five years ago, vehicles were the main shelter for just under half of those who did not use the shelter system.

RHA claims that despite this, there are only 147 parking spaces for RVs. The difficulty in locating safe parking lots is one of the reasons.

The city of Seattle allocated $1.9 million last year to create and operate a parking lot. LIHI Executive director Sharon Lee stated that the non-profit looked at 57 locations before finding this site. The lease covers 35,700 sq. ft. for a period of five years. The rate of the lease was not immediately known.

Salmon Bay Village is a community that will provide services to around 50 RVers who are elderly and vulnerable. It will be staffed 24/7 and have 30 RVs, as well as 10 tiny heated houses. Also, there will be case managers' offices, a communal kitchen, hygiene facilities, and a washing room.

In a release, Lee stated that the goal of Salmon Bay Village was to help RV owners leave their unsafe and deteriorating RVs to successfully move into permanent housing.

It wasn't possible to get an exact opening date.

Case managers can help with the transition from temporary housing to permanent housing by providing assistance in housing applications, employment resources, health care services and other supportive service.

Unauthorized vehicle residence can cause problems for those who live or work in the area, such as a stretch of 14th Avenue Northwest about a mile to the north of Salmon Bay Village.

Ric Heideger, owner of Doctor Don's Automotive in San Diego, says that fuel thefts from parked cars on the lot are common. However he did not know if those who committed the crimes were homeless. Maury Brown, the owner of Gardico Inc. in nearby, says that he and his staff have been harassed.

Lee stated that LIHI started looking for a safe lot property in August. James Tjoa, of Re/Max Commercial, was the nonprofit's broker. Kidder Mathews' Ken Hirata, Jeff Loftus and Ken Hirata marketed the property as a lease.

Lee stated that it would have been prohibitively costly to access water, sewer, and electricity in many of the LIHI sites.

"Some industrial sites are too big, expensive and contain buildings that we wouldn't use. Some industrial sites were not livable or had poor air quality. "We also didn't want to be in a remote area far away from transit, groceries and services," added she.

Salmon Village is ideal because it is close to the bus lines that service Ballard, downtown, and Uptown/Lower Queen Anne.

Lee stated that "we are looking into a number public sites, as we can't just have one RV site for the whole city."

Gilder stated in a press release that "Homelessness will not disappear from Seattle unless communities engage, as we know." In light of the recent battle to keep this vacant land safe from illegal encampments, I am happy to partner with LIHI in order to address homelessness and maintain the safety of Interbay's community.