The Durkan Digest: Stemming the Supply of Unsafe Vehicles in Seattle & Protecting Our Vulnerable Neighbors from Predatory Renting

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This blog post is an excerpt from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s weekly newsletter. If would like more content like this, and a weekly recap of the exciting things happening in the City of Seattle, you can subscribe here.In recent weeks, we’ve announced a series of steps to address our homelessness crisis. As we work to help our neighbors living unsheltered move into safer spaces and permanent housing, we have an obligation to protect public health and ensure that people are not living in inhumane conditions.

For many individuals, a car or vehicle can be their last possession. However, we’ve also seen that some vehicles in the City of Seattle are hazardous and pose significant public health, fire, and safety hazards. Many are inoperable, and many are simply an inhumane place for someone to live.

In May 2018, we launched a new RV Remediation Program to address the impacts to public health and safety in the right of way. In this pilot, City teams have been engaging individuals living in RVs and vehicles to encourage them to voluntarily move their vehicles to allow for cleaning and the removal of garbage and debris. Inoperable or unsafe vehicles are left behind.

Last year, the program removed 161 tons of garbage and debris and resulted in 173 vehicles being towed because they were inoperable, unsafe or posed a threat to public health. But in 2018, more than half of the vehicles towed from a clean-up site with significant safety and health risks were auctioned off and then returned to Seattle’s streets.

We must do more to prevent the re-sale of these hazardous vehicles and stem the supply. That’s why this week I directed the City to begin examining vehicles and RVs that have been towed by a City contractor to see if they meet the definition of a public health hazard. In the event a vehicle is designated as a public health hazard, it will be destroyed, not re-sold back into the market at auction.

As part of these new actions, we will also do more to hold accountable those who prey on vulnerable people for profit. Next week, I will transmit legislation to the City Council that makes it illegal to rent cars and vehicles including RVs in poor and inoperable condition to our most vulnerable neighbors. For individuals engaged in predatory rentals, we will ensure the restitution of up to $2,000 goes directly to support the vehicle’s occupants. Click here to learn more about our new plan.

We will continue to work for holistic solutions and do more to connect people with services and housing – and we will continue to invest in the strategies we know have an impact, like our Navigation Team. Because of our recent action to expand the Navigation Team with four new members, we can work seven days a week to connect more people with services and help them move into safer places.

As always, please continue to write me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.

Sincerely,

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan's Signature

This blog post is an excerpt from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s weekly newsletter. If would like more content like this, and a weekly recap of the exciting things happening in the City of Seattle, you can subscribe here.