SEATTLE - Neighbors from Ballard, Fremont, Magnolia and other neighborhoods gathered Wednesday night to voice their frustration to the city of Seattle.
They demanded solutions from the city council, mayor’s office and Seattle police, asking them to crack down on crime and provide help for people living in RVs in their neighborhoods.
Some said they’ve complained numerous times to police and the council, but the city has failed to act.
“What I found was -- I had neighbors in Lake City, in Fremont, in Ballard, in Queen Anne -- all had been contacting the mayor's office, for years, in some cases, begging the police for help, begging parking enforcement for help,” Magnolia resident Harley Lever said.
Lever said at the heart of the problem is a number of RVs he believes criminals are living in and parking on neighborhood streets.
“We're not making this stuff up,” Daniela Eng said. “Why doesn't the city do something about it? There's evidence right here.”
Eng and her family run a telecommunications business, WBL Services, in Magnolia.
She pointed out needles strewn around the company’s building. Eng said they’ve also recorded what appear to be drug deals in the same spot and have dealt with theft first-hand.
“Two men were just standing here with hoses outside of our truck, just stealing our gas,” she said.
Eng said the man walked right back to his RV parked nearby. She said her family called police, but officers did not show after they waited two hours.
Lever started SafeSeattle.org, which neighbors use to report and track problems on a map.
He acknowledges some RVs are simply homes for people down on their luck, but others, he believes, are centers for crime.
Lever pointed to the death of Ann Zachariasen, who lived on the streets on Ballard and whose body was found in a shopping cart in November.
Police filed a warrant to search an RV for evidence of murder.
Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw said the solution begins with better police responses.
“Police must be in the neighborhoods, helping people who are concerned,” she said. “We also need to be doing a much better job responding when we see garbage. If there are needles, we need people with the biohazard team to come get those needles picked up,” said Bagshaw.
Bagshaw also wants to create safe parking zones for RVs in Seattle and King County, similar to what's been done in Eugene, Oregon and Kitsap County.
“They can get running water, they can have garbage cans there, and we've got case managers there that will help them move up and on to a better life,” she said.
The lots would not allow alcohol, drugs, weapons or violence of any kind.