Abandoned RVs Possible Unfunded Mandate

Abandoned recreational vehicles (RV’s) are an increasing problem throughout Washington State.

It is a violation of state law to abandon a junk vehicle on any property.  Past practice is for registered tow truck drivers to collect the abandoned vehicle and either collect a fee from the owner when contacted or dismantle and sell for reimbursement.  The Department of Licensing, the Department of Ecology, code enforcement and law enforcement all are involved in this process.

The number of abandoned RV’s is on the rise and the condition of many of them creates hazardous bio-waste and eco-waste. They present harmful risks to anyone removing them from the property where they were illegally abandoned.

The registered tow truck operators are seeking some legislative help for this problem.  This year, the Senate Transportation committee looked at SB 5735 to address this issue, yet it creates implementation and funding problems for counties.

The Department of Ecology would create a voluntary RV turn-in program funded through increased registration fees.

According to the bill, when an RV is removed, it would be taken to a county solid waste facility. The county could then apply for reimbursement once Ecology determines priorities and creates a “rule for dispersing the funds that consider population, urban development, environmental effects of waste disposal, existing waste handling practices, and justification made by the local government and allocate available funds” (Section 7, Line 22). But, only if the legislature allocates funding.

As you can imagine, this creates problems for counties who do not have the staff, expertise or funds to implement this new and costly program at local solid waste facilities.

The bill did not pass and a workgroup was created at the Department of Licensing to work with stakeholders to address this issue.  WSAC staff will be following and provide updates as they arise.

 

Laura Berg
Laura first became involved in government as a city council member for the city of Newport Washington and later became a County Commissioner in Pend Oreille County. She served for 6 years and represented the region on statewide and national boards. Laura and her family moved to Olympia in November of 2012 and she has worked for WSAC for four years doing policy work on natural resources, land use and environmental issues.