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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Landowner asks for intervention in dealing with RVs used as homes

By Charles H. Featherstone Columbia Basin Herald, Moses Lake, Wash.

MOSES LAKE – The owner of the properties along North Central Drive where a number of homeless have parked their RVs has given permission to a group of volunteers to post “no trespassing” signs and has asked the Moses Lake Police Department to do something about the situation, according to an email provided to the Columbia Basin Herald.

In an email dated Monday, April 17, and sent to MLPD Chief Kevin Fuhr, Ted Yao – who owns three parcels totaling about 44 acres on the north side of N. Central Drive between the Goodwill and Home Depot – wrote he has recently received some phone calls regarding the RVs parked on the street “stub-outs” that are on his property, adding he would like to put up “no trespassing” signs on the property in order to help deal with the situation.

“Recently, I have received a few phone calls, and also my friend Rich has mentioned that you have discussed the homeless residency at the property,” Yao wrote to Fuhr. “Now we will try to put the ‘No Trespassing’ sign as soon as possible.”

“Would you please give the best solution, also I (would) like (the) city to take full responsibility for these people while they stay there,” Yao wrote in a follow-up email to both Moses Lake City Manager Allison Williams and the Columbia Basin Herald on Thursday. “Otherwise, please allow the police to move them away.”

In records available online with the Grant County Assessor’s office, Yao lists a mailing address in Malmo, Sweden. In the email sent to Fuhr, he mentions living in Australia.

The emails were provided by Grant County Republican Party Chairman David Hunt, who tracked Yao down early in the week and offered to put signs up himself. However, Hunt said he is going to wait to put the signs up until the city of Moses Lake has figured out where the homeless and their vehicles will go.

“It does me no good to put the signs up if there is no place to go,” Hunt said. “That was my first instinct, but that would be creating a bigger headache for the city.”

Fuhr said he has communicated with Yao, and that the city is still trying to figure out where to move the RVs.

Under a 2021 ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court, cities and counties are limited in their ability to enforce ordinances against parking vehicles on public streets and in public parking lots if the city has no permanent place for homeless parking. The ruling found that vehicles must be considered primary residences under the state’s homestead act, which is intended to keep people in their primary homes when they file for bankruptcy and prevent homelessness.

In the case, decided in August 2021, the court also found that impounding vehicles and associated charges constituted an excessive fine under the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. At previous meetings of the city council, city officials have said they understand from the ruling that they cannot move, tow or impound any vehicle used as a primary residence unless they have a permanent place to let them park.

Fuhr said the ruling only applies to homeless vehicles parked on city streets or in city parking lots and not to vehicles on private property, though he added that does the city little good if there’s no place set aside for parking. The “stub-outs” allowing for future street development are actually on Yao’s property and not city land.

Hunt said right now, it is best the vehicles stay where they are, rather than end up on a city street or in the parking lot of Lauzier Park, and that he has spoken with Council Members Dave Skaug and Judy Madewell about finding a permanent place for the vehicles to park.

Hunt also said it would have been better if the city had developed a solution to this a year ago when the situation first arose.

“Then they wouldn’t have a bunch there,” he said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at