Olympia’s new approach to RV parking

Permits will allow vehicles to temporarily stay parked on a public street.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — After living on the streets for years, David Reynolds said he has seen it all.

“I’ve slept with newspapers stuffed in my coat to stay warm,” said Reynolds, who said he has regular work as a bricklayer, but can only afford to live in his trailer.

When Reynolds parked on Olympia’s Ensign Road last month he received something he had never seen before – a notice to apply for a permit to park on the public street.

“Ensign Road will be changed to no parking except by permit,” said Reynolds, reading the paperwork from the City of Olympia informing him that, without a permit, his vehicle would be towed.

Last week, the city required those living in vehicles along the quarter-mile stretch of Ensign Road to agree to a list of conditions. Those conditions include the proper disposal of trash and human waste and only one lawn chair per person outside of the vehicle. Residents cannot engage in violent behavior.

Thirty-three vehicle owners received permits. After just over a week, none have been revoked, according to Olympia Homeless Response Coordinator, Kim Kondrat.

”Every person deserves basic shelter. And the housing is so expensive, and we have no shelter capacity right now in our community,” said Kondrat, who said she has not heard of any other cities offering similar permits.

She said the area has remained relatively clean and she has only issued minor citations, mostly for trash issues.

Kondrat said the permits are not permission for the owners to stay parked on Ensign Road indefinitely.

”We want to eventually move them all from Ensign, but not until we have a different alternative to offer them,” said Kondrat. “Each individual is different and they’ll all need something different.”

Kondrat said the city hopes to have the permit holders in more permanent housing by June of 2023. She said the road will be a no parking zone by then.

Reynolds said he won’t be getting a permit. He said he was planning on moving off Ensign Road soon anyway.

However, he likes the idea of giving people a break, while also having some rules to follow.

”Why not?,” said Reynolds. “It’s better than having everybody just roaming around.”