Faded drapes cover the windows of a camping trailer parked just north of the Ballard Bridge. An orange power cord runs from a side window of the Komfort trailer to a generator sitting in a pickup truck parked in front.
Jarrett Schickling, his girlfriend, Crystal Livesey, and their two pit bulls call the Komfort home. The 20-year-olds said they moved into it a year ago, when they lost their lease on an apartment in North Seattle and couldn't afford to move into a new one.
It may only be a matter of time before they lose the Komfort, too.
Since July 5 two special teams of parking enforcement officers have been looking for and attaching boots to vehicles with more than three past-due parking tickets.
The new "parking scofflaw" program worries the couple. Schickling owes about $800 for eight tickets on the trailer. The boot is supposed to force him and other scofflaws to pay up within 48 hours, or start a payment plan with the city's collection agency -- with a $200 first-payment minimum.
Schickling said the idea is absurd.
"People are on the street because they don't have money," he said. "If we could afford to pay the tickets, we could afford a place to live."
If a boot is attached to their trailer, Schickling and Livesey said they and their dogs will be out on the sidewalk.
Over the past two months, with the July 5 deadline approaching, advocates with the Ballard Homes for All Coalition, Heroes for the Homeless and the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness have gone out to areas where car campers park and put flyers on their vehicles to warn them.
The advocates called for amnesty for car campers, but Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith said that isn't possible because it raises legal issues about the city creating special classes, he said.
Homeless groups and staff in Councilmember Mike O'Brien's office have come up with other ways to help car campers clear their tickets.
In mid-June, O'Brien aide Sahar Fathi started a scofflaw helpline that she is staffing, as time allows. The number (206.727.3972) was printed on some outreach fliers to car campers and, so far, Fathi said she's helped about six people.
She helps in part by writing letters to the Seattle Municipal Court, explaining the circumstances of car campers who are afraid to come to court. One letter she wrote was for Wallace Olson, who lives in a motor home on the same street where Schickling, Livesey and a caravan of other campers park.
Olson has lived in a motor home since 2008 and owes about $400 in tickets. He can't go to the court, he said, because he tried to steal a chicken from the Ballard Safeway in February, and then missed his court date. Now he has a warrant for his arrest.
"I'm afraid to go down there because they'll grab me," said Olson, 66. "And then I'll lose the motor home."
Once a vehicle is towed, it costs hundreds more to get it out of an impound lot. To see that doesn't happen, the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness is taking donations for a Boot Law Mitigation Fund from which it hopes to pay some or all of the tickets a scofflaw car camper owes.
Another option is to get off the scofflaw database that parking enforcement officers use to identify the vehicles they will boot. Doing this doesn't require paying off all the tickets in collections, just getting it down to three past-due tickets, Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith said.
The best way to pay off tickets is to go directly to the presiding judge's office of the Seattle Municipal Court, according to court staff. In May, the court started an interest-forgiveness period it calls a "collections reductions event" that it has now extended to July 15 for tickets in collections.
At the urging of homeless advocates, Smith said the mayor's office has also worked out a set of protocols to help car campers avoid the boot.
The first time a parking enforcement officer responds to a citizen complaint about car campers, the officer will identify the scofflaws in the area and leave boot warning notices on windshields with the phone number of the court and other numbers to call for help.
The Human Services Department will then dispatch an outreach worker to locate the car campers and offer them services and help getting housing.
Smith said the city will repeat the process twice before booting a vehicle, and that parking enforcement officers have the option of not doing so. And whenever a boot goes on a car camper's vehicle, the city will immediately dispatch an outreach worker.
If the vehicle does get towed, Smith said the outreach worker is authorized to provide motel vouchers for up to seven days and will continue working on housing for the affected car camper.
"We don't want anyone in a vulnerable living situation to face greater challenges and stress," Smith said.