OPINION: Walmart has the right to deny overnight parking

Decision to ban camping in lot stems from rowdy, destructive behavior



Walmart’s no overnight parking rule is not only well within their rights, but is completely justified.

DERREK SPEAKMAN, Evergreen columnist

Walmart recently decided to ban overnight parking in response to rowdy and disruptive campers. Good. If there are people abusing the free service that Walmart provides and making them deal with the consequences, Walmart shouldn’t offer it at all.

Overnight campers allegedly left trash and started small campfires in the parking lot. Since Walmart doesn’t have employees set aside to deal with the problem, they had to find another solution. As a business, their number one goal is to be cost efficient. Providing this service for free means that any resources dedicated to it is always going to be a cost to them.

Previously, Walmart’s policy was to allow these overnight campers, in the same way that thousands of other Walmarts do. When there was any large weekend event, Pullman’s Walmart would see a large influx of people using their parking lot as a place to stay.

Pullman Police Detective Chris Engle said, “It is private property, so they have the total right to control their property as they see fit, just as anyone else has the right to control their house.”

The Pullman Police Department received notice from Walmart saying that the store would no longer allow overnight parking, with no reason stated in the notice. Engle said the police department does patrols through the Walmart parking lot just like they would any other residential or commercial area.

With Walmart off the table, what alternatives are there? Those who want to stay at an RV park can stay at the city of Pullman’s for only $30 a night with a full hookup, or $10 a night if they are just camping in a tent.

However, this alternative isn’t available during home games unless you’ve already booked it. The Pullman RV park currently is almost entirely booked through May during events. There are alternative RV parks in neighboring towns, which may be available.

WSU offers RV and car spots, with differing prices based on the event taking place. Home football games have passes available for purchase each game, and season pass holders get free parking if they’ve donated $500 or more. “Premium Parking” requires a $5,000 donation.

During any event outside of football games and Mom’s Weekend, RV parking is only $50 a night for Fridays and Saturdays at WSU. Of course, you’d be better off staying at the RV park if there are spots available.

Now, those who are more frugal may be wondering where they can stay if they would rather not spend the bare minimum $30 per night to stay at the RV park or hundreds to stay at WSU during game weekends.

Many churches offer event parking. While you don’t need to pay to stay, you are typically required to give a donation, which is technically different.

It may be of note that there weren’t actually any totally free parking spots mentioned.

That’s because there were free parking opportunities—at Walmart—but selfish and rowdy people had to ruin that opportunity. So please, when staying anywhere, regardless of whether or not it costs money, clean up your sh-t.