Permit application for car camping safe lot to be withdrawn

SEATTLE — Mayor Jenny Durkan has tapped the brakes on a plan to test a safe lot in South Seattle for people living in their cars.

A permit for a lot at Genesee Park was filed by the Low Income Housing Institute and was in the process of receiving city approval to allow 30 vehicles to park overnight on a secured site with access to bathrooms and a case manager.

Unlike RV lots, the new safe lot would be strictly for cars parking overnight.

It's modeled after a program in San Diego and would be a first for Seattle.

"I think that's a pretty good idea," said Bobby, who lives in the Jungle, a notorious homeless encampment on Beacon Hill.

The city approved $250,000 for the pilot project, but has not yet done any outreach about potential locations.

Hours after KIRO 7 found permit documents for the Genesee Park location, which included site drawings, the head of the Low Income Housing Institute said the permit would be withdrawn after feedback from the mayor's office.

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​A spokeswoman for Durkan wrote the mayor had not approved any location, and after getting her first briefing on the pilot program last week, directed that the city consider multiple sites and conduct community outreach.

Durkan's office said meetings would be scheduled in March.

Neighbors, after first hearing of reports of the Genesee Park plan without any direct information from the city, were not pleased.

"None of us knew anything about this," city council candidate Ari Hoffman said last week.

City officials were expected to visit the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting Wednesday night.