Local businesses install blocks to stop RV parking

SEATTLE — You’ve probably seen them in industrial areas throughout Seattle in neighborhoods such as SoDo and Georgetown —cement-like blocks obstructing vehicles from parking.

Some people say the so-called ecology blocks are illegal and exist specifically to keep out RVs where some people are living full time.

If you’re driving through Ballard, you can’t miss them. The blocks line businesses such as Fremont Brewing, preventing cars and RVs from parking.

KIRO 7 News reporter Lauren Donovan spoke to people who live and work in the neighborhood, and found they seem conflicted.

Ballard resident Dan Long said the the way he sees it, the ecology blocks are inhuman.

“I don’t like them, I think they’re dehumanizing to people who are struggling. It doesn’t in my mind encourage discussion to try to solve the bigger problem of houselessness,” said Long.

Bobby Williams works on Northwest 47th Street. He said he’s the one who put the blocks on the street.

“We were dropping them literally as the tow trucks were taking the campers out of here. We battle everyday with these guys. I mean, they leave garbage and needles and everything else out here all day,” said Williams.

Reverend Bill Kirlin-Hackett said he’s become very familiar with the barricades as director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness.

“No one’s winning with these ecology blocks. It is almost 100% certain it’s to deter people living in vehicles,” said Kirlin-Hackett.

Kirlin-Hackett argues that many of the blocks are placed illegally, preventing public parking and obstructing the right of way.

“And there’s no direction coming from the city from higher offices to remove them, to penalize people,” he said.

A couple months ago, Kirlin-Hackett sent a complaint letter to the city.

In response, he received a letter citing Seattle Municipal Code 15.4, which states it is unlawful to place objects or structures in a public place without first securing a permit.

The letter also said, “one of the problems we have is we don’t always know who was responsible for placing the concrete blocks.”

“The city complains about ‘we don’t know who put them there,’ when it’s often obvious when it’s around a business,” said Kirlin-Hackett.

KIRO 7 has reached out to Sara Nelson, co-owner of Fremont Brewing and incoming Seattle City Council member for comment, but has not yet heard back.