FOLLOWUP: RV clearing under West Seattle Bridge to start Tuesday, city says

(WSB photo from last Thursday morning)

Four days after the fire that burned those RVs along SW Spokane Street west of East Marginal, the city says its operation to clear out RV campers beneath the bridge will start tomorrow. The accelerated clearing was announced that same day (and by Friday, the burned RVs already had been taken away), and this evening, the timeline was published as part of a long online update, which starts with backstory and then gets to the heart of what happens next, where, and when:

… The City is addressing the immediate hazard where the RV fire occurred last week, clearing that area of any RVs, vehicles, tents and other materials. SDOT has set a perimeter that encompasses the median along Spokane Street, from under the base of the West Seattle Bridge to Colorado Street on the east [map], that must be cleared. That area will then be fenced off to allow SDOT and Seattle City Light to perform repairs and maintenance, including following up on necessary lighting system repairs.

On Friday, April 7, the City provided notice to individuals who were on site that clearing of the area within the perimeter described above would begin on Tuesday, April 11. Recognizing the large number of RVs and other vehicles present, many of which are not operational, the City expects this effort will take several days, possibly into next week. The Navigation Team has also been offering services and alternative shelter to these individuals, outreach that will continue as long as necessary.

Additionally, on Friday the City began notifying RVs and vehicles parked all along the median under the Spokane Street viaduct to the east of the perimeter at Colorado Street that the City will be focusing enforcement of the 72-hour parking law. SPD is assisting with notification and will be leading that enforcement effort as the Navigation Team focuses its outreach efforts on people living in tents in that area.

We got notification of this update too late to ask followup questions such as where the inoperable RVs will be taken to, but will pursue the answers tomorrow. This all is happening a little over two weeks after the city started paying attention to the area, following an attack on a woman bicycling home from her job in West Seattle; days later, tent campers encroaching on the path were cleared, and a trash cleanup began in the RV area nearby. At that time, the city said it was working on “a plan” for the RV camp, but there was no timeline until the aftermath of last week’s fire.

31 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: RV clearing under West Seattle Bridge to start Tuesday, city says"

  • flimflam April 10, 2017 (7:39 pm)

    so even after the fire the remaining RV’s were just allowed to stay there? that is very strange.

    • WSB April 10, 2017 (8:00 pm)

      You can’t just snap your fingers and disperse an area like that. If an RV is inoperable, it’ll have to be towed, with a larger type of tow truck, and it has to go somewhere. If it’s a person’s residence, there’s the question of what happens to the stuff inside during and after the tow. And what if something inside one or more RVs is hazardous/dangerous – you don’t just blithely put it on the hook (or the flatbed) and take it away with the possibility of a fire or spill – and so on. We didn’t go over today so I don’t know if any have cleared out of their own volition. We did go through a few West Seattle areas with RVs on the street back on Friday, so we have a baseline count if any more turn up here (for example, 8 along Harbor Avenue, 2 on Trenton by Westwood Village, one each on Yancy and Andover by WS Health Club …). – TR

  • M April 10, 2017 (7:51 pm)

    Hopefully they don’t just find their  way up the bridge and into West Seattle, or add to the existing RV mess on Harbor Ave. 

  • KT April 10, 2017 (8:07 pm)

    …”Additionally, on Friday the City began notifying RVs and vehicles parked all along the median under the Spokane Street viaduct to the east of the perimeter at Colorado Street that the City will be focusing enforcement of the 72-hour parking law”…    Maybe, just maybe, it is time to do this city wide?  Reactive policing.  Wait until the problem is big and the problem gets a lot of media interest and react.  Not a good way to go about things.      

    • Katie April 12, 2017 (8:20 am)

      I doubt they have the manpower to enforce it city-wide. 

  • Jethro Marx April 10, 2017 (8:12 pm)

    I just hope that towing the recreational vehicles pushes us over the edge into a brave new world where we don’t have to see people straggling along in life at the edges of our society, making “life choices” we don’t approve of and generating a more visible form of the effluent of that society, the garbage we all leave behind after we’re through consuming, and looking at us with sad eyes as if to say, the cards fall as they may, and I got these two sucky hole cards, but I got to play it on through, could I get a buck for the ante?

    Oh, and that one guy doesn’t have to worry about the bridge “catching on fire,” so that’s nice. Sheesh.

    • Jeff April 11, 2017 (7:33 am)

      You scoff at the bridge catching fire, but given that it literally happened not two weeks ago in Atlanta, specifically from homeless activity, your scorn seems misplaced.

      • Brenda April 11, 2017 (7:58 am)

        Totally !!!

      • Jethro Marx April 11, 2017 (8:15 am)

        The scorn is not my own; it settles on me in drifts from the cloudbursts of nonsense seeded by my fellow West-Seattlites. A concrete bridge can’t catch fire; the bridge in Atlanta was damaged because someone lit a sufficiently large pile of fuel of sufficiently large potential thermal energy. A recreational vehicle simply does not have that potential. The heart of the nonsensical cloud though, is that we aren’t worried about the bridge catching fire; we use it as a convenient ripped-from-the-headlines herring to pile on the disgust we already feel for a population we generally don’t like. We don’t care about the people, and we don’t care to solve the problem. How many of you would still be bothered if the rvs moved to Kent? The trajectory of our society is to ever-expand the circle of people we are willing to treat like $#%7. It’s an old storyline- 1. Find a marginalized population. 2. Manufacture reasons they threaten your way of life. 3. Start describing them as sub-human. 4. Now that they are a group instead of individuals, initiate a solution that need not take their humanity and individuality into account; you can ship them away, push them into camps, bake them into pies, basically whatever you like!

        • M April 11, 2017 (11:39 am)

          It’s that same “compassion” that votes in our worthless city leadership and allows this to continue. The saddest part is that the 80% of the homeless population that are junkies by choice distract from the 20% that really do need our help and compassion. Let’s start to differentiate the group that is willing to accept our help and tax money versus those that don’t want our help and choose rather to trash our city and steal from our homes and cars. 

          • Jethro Marx April 11, 2017 (1:21 pm)

            Well, compassion can be tricky; you have some percentages of questionable derivation that help you divide your compassion up, but you’re really just trying to determine how many homeless people you can comfortably treat like…see above.

        • Joe April 11, 2017 (11:52 am)

          Jethro Marx…I’m going to assume you’re a fan of the failed & bloody ideology of communism…but anyway I digress.  

          Sir, if your intentions are so noble then why aren’t you out there yourself doing something for the disenfranchised proletariat?  I’ve grown so tired of armchair activists that feel that they know all the answers, but do none of the foot work. That feel as if they can gaze down upon the rest off us from their ivory tower filled with stale and tired ideologues. You offer no solutions- only condemnation of people fed up to the hilt of the failure to prevent the tragic & outrageous circumstances of homelessness in the first place.  A problem only acerbated by some of the very worst behaviors that humans can exhibit.  You offer us shame of our thoughts, shame of our wrong-think.  So thank you for that nugget, I will add it to my collection.

          To answer your question if I would care if these people moved to Kent?  Not really, honestly.  
          I would still care that a large portion of these individuals choose not to seek services that would place them in housing or shelter because they have grown accustomed to the lifestyle of living on the street (whatever that percentage may be, whatever that lifestyle may include). 

          I would still care about a number of things for those individuals not seeking services:
          1.)Who pays to remove their trash?  
          2.)Where do they get access to fresh water and sanitation needs?
          3.)Who pays for that?
          4.)What are the circumstances that have led them to be living on the street in the first place- where they did not have a single friend or family member who would proffer aid?  
          5.) Why is the usage of hard drugs so high among these individuals and what is law enforcement doing to prevent the underground drug market that sprung up to feed that addiction?  An addiction that only creates a cyclic tragedy of wasted potential.
          6.) How much money do we throw at a problem that has arguably only gotten worse till we realize that the tactics we are using are not working? 
           7.)That no matter what policies are enacted or how much money is spent- that some people will fall through the cracks by their own volition or of their own nature. 
          8.) What is your responsibility to the community when you are getting what amounts to free rent/services? 
          9.) What is your responsibility when your domicile burns to the ground?
          10.) What is your responsibility to yourself?

          Homelessness should be rare and temporary in modern society!
          Homelessness we can all agree on is “an outrage not to be tolerated!”. 

          However, living in an RV under a bridge implies some sense of fiscal responsibility, after all to own an RV in the first place implies at some point a person had purchasing power, but to park it free of charge under a bridge on city and state right of ways implies willful ignorance of the law.  Also, so you own an RV…for those that are operable, why not move somewhere where your skill set would allow you to not live in an RV? To maybe upgrade to a permanent structure?  I have had to move cities before to cheaper cities, it was common sense and fiscal responsibility as an individual that led me to those choices. This was one of the most frightening and empowering moments of my life.  I slept on couches saved my money asked for favors and got myself up and out, not once or twice, but I had to ask for help and not be a dick about it.  I didn’t buy a van or a school bus and convert it into a home and expect to live inside an uber expensive metropolis free of charge on the city streets.  

          So my heart may be cold, but it is cold not out of indifference,  it is cold out of the daily experiences I have had with disparate individuals I have met across the country.  (I was once beaten with a loaf of french bread that I gave a man sleeping in a church vestibule, because he didn’t like bread!)  
          I expect the same of my fellow homo sapiens as I do myself.  No double standards, no decrying complex problems with simple one offs learned in a sociology class on the wonders of Marxist thought that take no regard for the complex socio-economic realities of what can be a harsh and unfair world.  There is not a band-aid in all the world that will fix all the problems, but good intentions-stuff-things- WORDS.     Please.  Meat pies?  
          • Jethro Marx April 11, 2017 (2:02 pm)

            Joe, you’ve got a lot going on here, but if we’re starting with digressions, the “bake them into pies” reference was a toss to an old accusation against Cornelius Fudge regarding goblins.

             As for your assumptions, they’re wrong. I never read any Marx, but I agree with Michener’s assertion that communism will never be a viable option because for it to function it requires a ruthless and oppressive police state. My philosopher of choice is Jesus, all the way to the bottom of his story.

             So most of your response is a sort of misguided straw-man/a bunch of other stuff, but I’ll try to make some deductions about you instead of assumptions. You have faced adversity and made choices that brought you through it. You had a support network that helped you and even housed you sometimes. You feel you’ve “done your part” helping the less-fortunate, but after the bread-beating you carry a little bitterness that helps you rationalize your disdain. You are educated and intelligent, and that helps you make your way through life without struggling to comprehend the impact of the choices you make. A bit of an assumption, but I guess you probably feel like you didn’t really depend on the state or the generosity of others to get what you got in life.

             So, most of the homeless don’t have the same resources you had and they often have mental illness, addiction, and a trauma history. Those who work with vulnerable populations know that these form a self-perpetuating cycle on the streets.

             I have proposed a solution before, a simple one. Here it is in point-slope form:

             1. Housing. Note that it comes first, because homelessness is a symptom, not the problem.

              1.2 healthcare, yes including mental health

              1.3 substance abuse treatment

             2. Wait, don’t really need another element, that’s about it.

             I realize that stuff is expensive, and we can’t expect to make money off of it. So it’s probably not going to happen, because money is precious to everyone and giving it to people they disdain is anathema.

             Anyway, thanks for accepting the shame I was handing out. I am ashamed of the way we treat others, as a society, so even though you were trying to be sarcastic, you took it. I’ve never been called an armchair activist before, and I don’t really grasp what you mean by it, but in this country, we get to share our thoughts, even from our chairs. Old ideas aren’t always stale, either; that’s just nonsense. I learned that in Math class.

          • lamont April 12, 2017 (8:31 am)

            The problem is that we are allowing lawlessness and garbage in order to assuage liberal guilt over the homeless problem.  So how much money will it take to say that we have sufficient homeless services and we can start enforcing the laws?  Because ultimately this stalemate isn’t going to last and we are going to see reactionary voting from a big chunk of people who do just want the problem to go away one way or another.

        • Sunuva April 11, 2017 (12:09 pm)

          It’s more than just one RV under there. It is several RVs, toxic piles of trash, tents and bedding, shrubbery, and all manner of things that could easily combine create a dangerous fire. Even if it didn’t burn the bridge down, it could cause serious damage and potential human casualties. The city has finally realized this is a dangerous situation, not just because of fire risk, but for all the other reasons that people have been stating here, including theft, violence, exploitation of youth, and more.

          Those of us who are concerned are absolutely NOT out there looking for people to marginalize and we aren’t “manufacturing” risk. They have taken over our city, exploited loopholes in the laws, and created a danger to all of us. I want them to get help! However, living in RVs under the bridge is not helping them while also creating a complex and dangerous situation in our community.

  • Sunuva April 10, 2017 (8:28 pm)

    I am so glad to hear the city is finally doing something about this. I realize it is a huge job, but I’m glad they are finally taking it seriously. It should have never been allowed to get this bad in the first place. I also hope the attention is sustained, because this will take continued attention and enforcement to make sure the fix is permanent.

  • New Thinking Needed April 10, 2017 (9:18 pm)

    I thought the space under the bridge was a park & ride lot many years back.  Maybe it could be a park & ride again to discourage the illegal camping? 

    The 2 RVs on Trenton have come and gone for several months now if not longer. The one is notable for the yellowish substance that looks like it oozed out all the way around the windshield, or was applied around the windshield. There is also a ramshackle van parked over there recently.

    • WSB April 10, 2017 (9:28 pm)

      The far western end of the under-bridge area is park and ride. There are no campers under the bridge west of the low bridge – this is about the under-the-bridge area from east of the low bridge to Colorado, which is just west of 1st Avenue South – I will add this map above too:

      • Anonymous Coward April 11, 2017 (7:23 am)

        Yes there is, or at least there was on Friday.  There’s a tent camper on the East side of the railroad tracks which run under Spokane Street just east  of Avalon.  

        • WSB April 11, 2017 (7:26 am)

          I was referring to the RVs, which are what the city is dealing with now and what the commenter was wondering about wrt park-and-ride. The RV area referred to here ends east of the low bridge.

  • Woodsman April 11, 2017 (12:32 am)

    I just drove by the  RVs parked along Myers way.  There were a number of people clearly going in and out of a break in the chain link fence. I noticed all kinds of signs saying no trespassing , no dumping. Some of the RVs  are near the SHAG housing project. We have a family member living  at the complex and she has seen the trash and now the transients are hanging out around the park and ride lot.

    If I park in front of my home with out the RPZ  sticker in the window I’ll get a parking ticket right away. But these RVs can go park for long periods of time and not get a citation.

    The Second Chance camp was started when the lock was broken on city property and people started squatting there. Well now it’s a sanctioned place to stay.

    Take a drive up Myers way at about 10 or 11 pm and see for yourself . It’s a different world at night around there.

  • waikikigirl April 11, 2017 (8:29 am)

    I occasionally go south on 509 from over the 1st Ave. Bridge and in the past 2 weeks I  have noticed a few “blue tarp tents” up on the west hillside, and just yesterday I saw a couple looked to be in their 40’s (not meaning anything by that but…) walking and holding hands going into the hillside…not to stereotype but they did not look like addicts.

    It’s sad, I can’t imagine being without a home…   

    • Question Authority April 11, 2017 (8:48 pm)

      Those squatters in the greenbelt of 509 are the ones who do not want to live under the restrictions/civic rules of the Meyers Way camp. Hanging out in the woods allows for unrestricted drug use and the disassembling of all the stolen bikes for valuable metal component reselling.  That  is WSDOT property and needs to be shut.

  • M April 11, 2017 (10:29 am)

    Who do we contact to get rid of the person camped out at the bike path that was swept a couple weeks ago? There’s a large tent set up as I just rode by. Where’s the emphasis patrol to keep people from setting up camping? 

  • Chris April 11, 2017 (10:45 am)

    That mess under the bridge  would make Calcutta blush…That is not helping these people…it is a tragedy in every way.

  • Seattlite April 11, 2017 (1:28 pm)

     Seattle is being scammed by crooked politicians to collect more tax dollars for the continual homeless problem.  Why are Seattle/KingCounty leaders dragging their feet on addressing and resolving this problem once and for all?  This homeless debacle should have been cleaned up with past tax dollars but no the festering mess is still here…a total blight on the once livable Emerald City.  Why doesn’t the city and governor separate out the addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and deal with them separately from the honest families who are in between getting new jobs and housing.  This city and state are so mismanaged. 

  • Josie April 11, 2017 (1:55 pm)

    I see that Waikikigirl states campers in Burien and no one gives a hoot about them because they’re not in “West Seattle” …you know homeless is everywhere and the Government needs to do something about and I’m not meaning to just get rid of them I’m talking HELP.

  • Fritz April 11, 2017 (3:06 pm)

    Let this be the start of a massive action to push these hazards out of our city 

  • waikikigirl April 15, 2017 (7:32 pm)

    @Josie that is exactly what I mean, the homeless is everywhere and there’s got to be something done to help them. YES I know some don’t want the help but I’m hoping most do…It is so sad.

    People can dislike me, but I feel so bad for these people and yes maybe I’m a sap but i was raised to respect all people and that everyone the way I want to be treated.

Sorry, comment time is over.