Campaign Fizz: Anti-RV “Eco Blocks” Surround Candidate’s Brewery, Two Polls Test Pro-Harrell Messaging

“Ecology blocks,” commonly used to prevent unhoused people from parking RVs in industrial areas, around Fremont Brewing’s Ballard production facility.

1. Dozens of “ecology blocks” have popped up around the Ballard production facility for Fremont Brewing, the craft-beer company owned by City Council Position 9 candidate Sara Nelson, blocking vehicles from parking in designated public parking areas along NW 47th and 48th Streets and on 9th Avenue Northwest. Although city law forbids blocking the public right-of-way, industrial businesses throughout the city have chosen to defy the law, using the blocks to prevent RVs from parking near their facilities in industrial areas from Ballard to Georgetown.

Fremont Brewing, however, is the only large industrial business owned by a candidate for city council.

The production facility, which is located in Ballard’s burgeoning brewery district, is adjacent to a small encampment that, on a recent visit, included several vans and RVs. The blocks, which are spaced too closely for a car to park between them, surround the block-long building on three sides, with several of the blocks set up in on-street parking directly behind signs indicating parking rules in the area. Using ecology blocks to prevent people from parking in the street, as Nelson’s brewery appears to have done, is illegal, but the Seattle Department of Transportation has declined so far to enforce the law, noting that the blocks are heavy and hard to move.

Next to Fremont Brewing, ecology blocks in the public right-of-way extend right up to a stop sign.
Next to Fremont Brewing, ecology blocks in the public right-of-way extend right up to a stop sign.

Nelson’s campaign didn’t return an email seeking confirmation that Fremont Brewing had placed the blocks around the production facility, and Nelson didn’t respond to an email sent to her business email address. 

The proliferation of RVs and other large vehicles in industrial areas is a product not just of Seattle’s homelessness crisis, but of parking rules that prohibit them everywhere else in the city. During the pandemic, when the city decided not to enforce a law that requires vehicles to move every 72 hours, many RVs stayed put, sparking a backlash among business owners who have turned to everything from boulders to fake “no parking” signs to prevent RVs from parking near their businesses.

2. A new online poll testing messages on homelessness suggests that the supporters of the “Compassion Seattle” ballot measure will have another outlet for their money—an independent expenditure campaign supporting mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell and other “candidates in local elections.”

The poll focuses on homelessness and policing, and tests three possible campaign names: Recover Seattle, Restore Seattle, and Take Back Seattle.

The questions ask voters to choose between statements that purport to represent the two mayoral candidates’ views, although the framing of all the questions is generally pro-Harrell. For example, a question on business describes two possible perspectives: “City leaders should make sure that local companies pay their fair share in taxes so that we have the resources we need to address Seattle’s challenges,” and “City leaders should partner with our local business community to encourage new businesses, keep taxes under control, and create more jobs with livable wages.”

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Similarly, a question about homelessness contrasts “We have programs that will get the homeless off the street, but we don’t have enough revenue. The best way to solve homelessness is to properly fund existing programs by making sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes” with “We have the money to address homelessness in Seattle, but we need to make better decisions about what works and where new ideas are needed. An important first step is to make sure our parks and streets are safe for all people.”

Charter Amendment 29 would have required the city to fund thousands of new shelter beds without providing any additional funds while assuring that public spaces “remain open and clear of encampments.” Harrell has said he will implement every major provision of the amendment if elected.

3. A second poll that also circulated yesterday appears to be from the Harrell campaign itself. This poll tests out positive and negative messages about Harrell and asks respondents to say how convincing they find each statement.

The nine positive messages present Harrell as a civic crusader who has “spent his career taking on the evils of racism” by, for example, securing part of the city’s cannabis tax revenues to pay economic reparations to people who were arrested for marijuana-related crimes during the war on drugs. The poll also touts Harrell’s “ambitious plan to urgently and compassionately get people out of parks and streets and into stable housing with the on-site services they need.”

The three negative messages play up Harrell’s support from “dark money groups funded by big developers and even Donald Trump’s biggest Washington state donor” (Goodman Real Estate CEO George Petrie) and “the corrupt police unions who oppose commonsense reforms.”

8 thoughts on “Campaign Fizz: Anti-RV “Eco Blocks” Surround Candidate’s Brewery, Two Polls Test Pro-Harrell Messaging”

  1. RVs parking for more than 72 hours is still illegal, right? I understand that SDOT is not enforcing that law, but I’m trying to understand SDOT not enforcing that law is less scandalous than SDOT not enforcing a law about putting big concrete blocks there. Why can’t we repeal laws that aren’t going to be enforced?

  2. I’ll be a Gonzalez voter in November and I wouldn’t say that the poll questions highlighted in the piece are negatively framed. Saying “Seattle needs a mayor who stands by their progressive values and drives major systemic changes” is just a pretty good encapsulation of how I feel as a Gonzalez voter and I think that’s a pretty positive sum statement. But, I also acknowledge that there’s a lot of power in the message that that is contrasted with, and that the stances of my preferred candidate might very well be minority stances in Seattle.

    I think it will be a very close race between Harrell and Gonzalez, and I don’t think that will be because of any funny business on the part of Harrell campaign. I hope Gonzalez wins, but I grant that Harrell’s positions might be more popular.

    I’ve been disappointed in Jenny Durkan as a Mayor, but I have to grant that she made a shrewd move on behalf of her more moderate political coalition to not seek re-election. I think Gonzalez would have had an easier time running against Durkan and her record, and by not seeking re-election Durkan put moderates and more business-aligned interests in a better position.

  3. “Using ecology blocks to prevent people from parking in the street, as Nelson’s brewery appears to have done, is illegal, but the Seattle Department of Transportation has declined so far to enforce the law, noting that the blocks are heavy and hard to move.”

    Awww, poor darlings of SDOT say it is just too hard to enforce the law.

  4. Your people are shitting in the grass in our public parks, injecting illegal drugs on our public sidewalks, and jacking off in public. But just let a business owner put up a fake “no parking” sign to improve their industrial neighborhood and OMG! that’s a violation of the law!

    Progressives say that the war on drugs was a failure, so they replaced it with what? Watch it here on YouTube: “Kensington Station Philadelphia” Preview the future of Seattle Transit. Congratulations Progressives, that was quite some improvement there.

    Where do you think all those drugs are coming from? That’s right, across the wide open southern border.

    The morons you voted for are doing a fine job. You prove yourselves wrong every day. I don’t need to say anything. But it is so much fun to watch you squirm from your own failures. Please don’t ever stop. Steve Willie.

    1. Saying all, or even the majority, of Seattle’s homeless population is on drugs is hyperbole unsupported by statistical data. The same holds true for mental illness, which is less than double that of the housed population. As for bodily waste, people need to evacuate their bowels somewhere, and if the anti-homeless crowd succeeds in removing restrooms, the grass is the next available option.

      1. I don’t understand how the pro homeless crowd seems to push for the homeless remaining homeless, preyed upon by drug dealers and living without running water, electricity or heat, or anywhere to put trash. Harrell has committed to using American Rescue Plan funds along with increasing homeless funding we already spend by one percent – and leveraging philanthropic partnerships to house homeless and provide services. We need a Mayor with a can do attitude on homeless instead of the giveup (and untrue) attitude of “it’s an unfunded mandate”.
        We also need a Mayor who admits to the problems in the city like the small businesses who are just hanging on and having to deal with harassment of their customers multiple times per day by individuals that are high or mentally unstable. Downtown as well as our parks need to be made safe for all. Ignoring these issues or saying you didn’t know about them because there were too many emails in your inbox is not an excuse.

      2. Ballardite: It IS an unfunded mandate. Martin v. Boise. Mandated by Judge Marsha Berzon of the 9th Circuit Court. Look it up before you try to mis-lead us next time. Camping in the public right-of-way is now legal under ever-widening circumstances….. as if the circumstances of the camper should even be the test of whether it is legal, but there you have it. Steve Willie.

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