Permit-required RV parking shifts back to Lacey City Hall after other plans fall through

There was some clarity and a little confusion during a work session of the Lacey City Council Thursday night.

First, the clarity.

City manager Scott Spence announced an end to a proposal to send those living out of their RVs to an unfinished road in Hawks Prairie called Main Street. That plan had been strongly opposed by area residents, including at a public meeting in October when about 100 residents spoke out about homelessness-related concerns.

“I made a decision to suspend it as a permitted parking area,” Spence told the council. He said the portable toilets and hand-washing stations have been removed from the site and soon the fencing will be gone as well.

Main Street is west of Marvin Road Northeast, between Interstate 5 and Britton Parkway.

And then the confusion.

Now the permit-required RV parking will shift back to an area of the City Hall parking lot near the library -- the same place that used to attract a number of RVs. The growing number of RVs that used to park there is what led city officials to look into other possible destinations, including Main Street.

But that was before Lacey City Council approved a new parking ordinance in September, which limits RV parking to no more than four hours on public property, including parking lots. Once the city began enforcing the ordinance, the RVs left City Hall.

In addition to public opposition to the Main Street RV site, the sudden lack of demand for RV parking was cited as another reason not to move forward with the Hawks Prairie location.

Although the city has decided to allow the permitted parking at City Hall, only one person has sought a permit and they haven’t returned, Lacey Police Chief Ken Semko told the council.

Once the permit is in hand, the RV can be parked for up to 12 hours. But there are a variety of requirements, including that the individual living in that RV is actively engaged with social services.

After the work session, Mayor Andy Ryder said he wants Lacey to be known as a compassionate community, but what do you do when people won’t engage with the city’s social service partners?

“It’s kind of heartbreaking,” he said.

A few people are still living out of their cars in the City Hall parking lot. Spence said the number of cars has been as high as 10, but more recently in the range of 2-5. Those living in their cars are not subject to the RV parking ordinance.

Spence said the city is still “dealing with that issue.”

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.