Planter blocking the street so RVs can't park

RV Resistance: How One Community Is Planting Its Stand

People living in Ballard, Seattle, are fed up.

They’re attempting to reclaim their streets, not just metaphorically, but in a very real way – through the use of large planters. These bulky items are intended to block RVs and campers from parking on their roads, which according to local residents, is a nuisance they’re willing to confront, even though they’re clearly breaking the rules.

RV Resistance: How One Community Is Planting Its Stand
Planters placed by local residents to block RVs from parking

Despite Ballard’s small-town appeal, it has experienced substantial urban growth, creating a lively and bustling neighborhood. The eclectic mix of its residents, including families, young professionals, and older residents rooted in the area for decades, adds to its unique charm.

Interestingly, amidst this backdrop, the sudden emergence of numerous round planters on 8th Avenue NW took the community by surprise.

Although the neighborhood was initially puzzled over who introduced these planters, there was a shared understanding among the locals about their purpose.

A little further down the same road, additional planters have sprung up. A local, choosing to remain anonymous, confessed to placing three stainless steel planters on the street, filled to capacity with gravel. The reason? To deter RVs from establishing a camp right in front of his home.

This resident didn’t make this decision impulsively. Prior to resorting to his planter strategy, he sought help from multiple city departments. His issue stemmed from a troublesome four-month stint where a large RV and camper remained parked right outside his window. The constant drone of a generator, coupled with the continuous coming and going of people at all hours, litter, and signs of drug use, had become overwhelming.

The resident is also concerned about the fire hazards these encampments pose. “It’s a dangerous situation,” he expressed, “if these campers come back, it’s simply not safe.”

He shared that the problem RV was finally towed after being abandoned for three days. That was in May, the time when he made his decision to position the planters.

An adjacent neighbor agreed, “I even assisted in filling those planters with gravel.” He expressed his concerns about the RV creating a blind spot for drivers and his relief when it was finally removed.

Both individuals expressed their frustration with the lack of response from city officials. “Until the city devises a comprehensive, systemic solution, we’ll do what we must,” the first resident stated.

Interestingly, placing planters on the street isn’t legal without a permit, which the city doesn’t provide for this use. The city is aware of this, and other efforts like eco-blocks and chained ‘no parking’ signs to restrict parking.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) informed a local Seattle news outlet that while chaining a ‘no parking’ sign is unconventional, it’s not illegal. However, they noticed discrepancies in the dates on one of the no-parking signs, making it unenforceable. SDOT plans to investigate.

“Residents are at their wits’ end. They’re willing to do whatever it takes,” said a local.

Although residents can face fines for these violations, so far, SDOT has issued warnings and focused on educating businesses and property owners to remove the illegal items. Finding out who placed these can be a challenge, as the city mostly relies on complaints to identify potential violations.

Fed Up With RVs, Residents Use Heavy Planters to Keep Them Out (Video)


From my perspective, there are several potential advantages to the Ballard residents’ actions.

Firstly, using planters to deter RV encampments can be seen as a proactive and hands-on approach to managing an issue that’s impacting folks’ quality of life. By taking this step, it’s obvious the local community wants to regain peace and security in its immediate surroundings, mitigating noise and safety concerns linked to long-term RV parking.

Moreover, this action is putting a spotlight on a broader community issue, triggering a wider conversation about the local government’s responsibility to address this problem. The planters’ visibility could put pressure on the city to act more swiftly and effectively in managing RV encampments and related issues.


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However, I also recognize this approach has potential drawbacks.

Firstly, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem, which is homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. While the planters may deter RVs from parking in certain areas, they offer no help to those who depend on these vehicles as their sole form of shelter. In essence, this action may just shift the problem to another area rather than solving it.

Secondly, putting planters on the street breaches city regulations. This could result in penalties and potentially strain relationships with city officials. This act sets a precedent that might encourage other forms of vigilantism, undermining local law and order.

Also, there are safety considerations to keep in mind. Planters might obstruct the roadway or create blind spots, posing a hazard to motorists and pedestrians.

Lastly, this approach could cause a rift within the community. Not all residents might agree with this action, leading to disagreements and tension among neighbors.


Residents in Ballard, Seattle, fed up with the continual presence of RVs and campers causing issues outside their homes, have taken to placing heavy planters on the street.

Designed to stop vehicles from parking, despite being a clear violation of city regulations, these residents are prepared to risk fines for the purpose of protecting their properties and safety.

This frustration has been heightened by the city’s perceived inability to come up with concrete solutions to ongoing parking and camper problems.

What are your thoughts?

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