Yakima tells illegally parked campers to get out

YAKIMA, Wash. -- KIMA got your phone calls, e-mail and Facebook messages about campers parked on city property. It is illegal. We learned the city is now taking a tougher stance.

"The reason we're here, is this is private property," Yakima Police Rich Fowler explained to illegal campers.

It's the first and last warning the campers will get. Officer Fowler said these people are breaking the rules.

"You just can't stop on any city property and live in these motor homes," said Fowler.

Four campers parked on the lot between Sarg Hubbard Park and Walmart were told to leave. Fowler says they've been squatting here and on other properties for months. That, of course, is illegal.

"They're basically moving from spot to spot to either evade police or avoid codes compliance division of the city," said Fowler.

It's ultimately wasting time and our tax dollars, said Fowler.

To get all sides, we gave the owners a chance to explain their decision to set up camp on taxpayer land. Don Clemmer says he's short on cash.

"We want to go as bad as they want us to go, but financially we can't," said Clemmer.

A free campground doesn't exist. In fact, to park at the Yakima Sportsman State Park it costs about $30 a night and the limit is 10 nights. That's $300 these people say they don't have.

If they campers are caught in a new illegal location, Officer Fowler says the punishment will include a couple hundred dollar fine, tacked onto a towing fee of nearly $300. It's the city's best effort to enforce the law and more importantly, clean up Yakima.

The city says the biggest problem comes from camper owners leaving trash behind and dumping raw sewage.

We will stay on top of the story.