The City of Wenatchee discreetly prohibited RV parking on city streets without any discussion during their last council meeting on Thursday.

The council unanimously approved two new laws pertaining RV parking, or any occupant living in their vehicle/trailer.

These two ordinances include the following changes: the first now prohibits RVs from parking on city streets unless actively loading or unloading temporarily, the second gives the city the ability to tow any seemingly abandoned vehicles.

The language in these new laws label recreational vehicles as “vehicles which are utilized as a shelter for humans,” extending this to cars and trucks that people are occupying due to rising rental costs.

This ban extends to those living at a permanent residence as well as unhoused people or those living in their vehicle.

Previously, city code enforced a 24 hour-rule for RV parking, however the city found it difficult to enforce this law if the occupant temporarily moved the vehicle or parked a small distance away from their previous spot.

Vehicles that do get towed or impounded won’t carry criminal offenses for the owners nor fines for when they recover their vehicle.

The ordinance also states that “the use of RVs for accommodation on City streets has caused and is causing a public health hazard” with 80-90 percent of the raw sewage draining into the Columbia River.

This comes shortly after the city approved $1.5 million in grants for Wenatchee Rescue Mission’s Safe Park initiative, which provides a safe parking area for 45 low-barrier shelter spots and parking for RVs or vehicles.

During the same meeting, Wenatchee City councilmember Linda Herald recounted the Columbia River Local homeless task force meeting she attended on Monday.

Herald described the plight of an unhoused man, who has been homeless for the past six months.

“He's there because he can't find a place to live but he is working, he's fully employed,” Herald said. “His landlord raised the rent and he had no place to go because he couldn't afford to pay that. So this is a common thread we're hearing.”

According to Pew Research, the average rent for the western region of the United States has risen 21 percent in the last five years.

The average rent in Wenatchee was measured between $1,450 and $2,350 in 2022. 

“Some of these people that are in there are working, the vast majority of them are working, they've just been shoved out of affordable housing,” Herald explained.

In 2021, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics measured the median income of a Wenatchee resident to be nearly $26 per hour. To make three times the amount of rent for a one-bedroom apartment, a person has to make $21.75 an hour

Herald shared that Scott Johnson from the Wenatchee Rescue Mission explained to them some of the biggest problems they were facing were coming from the public.

“The only problems they've had has been from the public, driving by [with] obscenities, throwing rocks, throwing whatever at them.”

These new laws will take effect starting Oct. 20.

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