'Urban camping' in Spokane treated as parking violation

(11-30-17)

SPOKANE, Wash. – It is something you probably see a lot, mainly during the summer, people living in recreational vehicles.

It is called "urban camping." In Montana, Missoula's city council is considering a ban on urban camping.

Spokane does not currently have any kind of ban in place for urban camping. Instead, there are parking rules that are enforced by neighborhood code enforcement and parking services. 

Recreational vehicles like campers and RVs cannot be parked in the same place for more than four hours.  After four hours, the city could issue a violation. 

But, for the most part code enforcement is not out driving around looking for recreational vehicles in violation of the four-hour rule. Instead, the process is complaint driven. If you call in a complaint about an RV parked in your neighborhood, they would come out and investigate then decide what to do next. The city could issue a 24 impound notice to move the vehicle. If the vehicle is moved off the block they would no longer be in violation of parking rules.     

Technically, if someone moved to a new block every four hours, they would not be violating any parking rules. If there is evidence that someone is living in an RV, code enforcement would issue a warning and leave a flyer with a list of homeless services available in the community. Then the community housing and human services department would send out a homeless outreach team to see if the people living in the vehicle need help and connect them with services.

When KREM 2 asked if Spokane had a big problem with urban camping, city leaders said they couldn't give an exact number because they do not track the number of people living in recreational vehicles. Instead, it is tracked as a parking violation.     

Currently, they said they are not considering putting any kind of ban in place.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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