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City poised to open safe parking lots for homeless in RVs, cars

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SEATTLE, Wash. -- They’re the homeless who live out of their recreational vehicles or cars around the city of Seattle.

For the last few weeks, many of them have been living in safe parking sites as the city prepared a more permanent location for them.

The new safe parking lots will open on Friday afternoon and the process will then begin to move people over to the new locations.

Harold Hezel has owned Market Street Spirit in Ballard for nearly 30 years.

“I’ve been here a long time and I’ve seen a lot of stuff go by,” said Hezel.

One of the things he has seen more of are transients who live in the area.

“I’m concerned when I walk up here every morning I look around before I go for my front door and I never used to do that but there’s a lot more folks walking around the streets earlier in the morning,” added Hezel.

Now, down the block from Hezel’s business will be a new city-sponsored safe-parking lot.

The old Yankee Diner parking lot that will be used for homeless people who live out of their RVs or cars, but many people we spoke to weren’t excited about the lot moving into this area.

“These guys have me a little more concerned because they’re just rounding them all off the streets of Ballard, sticking them in there,” added Hezel.

The city has created two safe-parking sites; one in Ballard near Northwest Market and 24th and the other in Delridge at West Marginal Way at Highland Park Way.

The city said the two locations will have enough space for as many as 50 vehicles.

“We can’t have generators, we can’t have any power, we can’t cook in our own homes, we can’t smoke cigarettes, we can’t abide in cannabis, even though it’s legal. You’re locked inside of a gate. You can’t leave from 10 at night till 6 in the morning,” said Danny Fletcher, who lives out of his vehicle in one of the safe zones.

The city has set strict rules for those who live in the ‘safe parking sites.’ The rules of conduct are designed to make the lots safe for everyone, especially the neighborhoods around them.

The city has reworked the rules to be more flexible and allow people to cook in their vehicles and have visitors during certain hours.

The city said this program is funded by a $350,000 budget from a state of emergency plan.