FOLLOWUP: Encampment cleanup on Highway 509 slope east of Myers Way is a go for tomorrow, city says

(WSB photo of part of the encampment area, as seen from southbound Highway 509)

As first reported here eight days ago, the city and state plan to clean up an unauthorized encampment area on the slope over Highway 509, east of Myers Way, starting tomorrow. We talked with city spokesperson Will Lemke for a detailed followup a week ago and checked back with him today – at which time he confirmed work will start tomorrow:

You will see the Navigation Team and WSDOT crews on site, probably accessing the area from 509. The Nav Team will continue to offer services, shelter, and storage of items as the removal proceeds. WSDOT is scheduled to work on the drainage system soon-thereafter. We have allocated two days to the effort … We believe there is about a half-dozen people living in this specific section of the Myers Way greenbelt. Again, this is only for this section abutting 509 and the WSDOT drainage system.

That’s a reiteration that the encampment areas “on the plateau” immediately east of Myers Way, and “the grotto” beneath it, are not involved in the cleanup plan.

P.S. Earlier today, Lemke was one of the city staffers who briefed a City Council committee about ongoing encampment cleanups (see the Seattle Channel video here). This cleanup wasn’t discussed, but one staffer acknowledged that there are at least 400 known unauthorized encampments within the city limits.

27 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Encampment cleanup on Highway 509 slope east of Myers Way is a go for tomorrow, city says"

  • raisedinburien62yrs March 14, 2018 (4:53 am)

    That picture does not do the encampment justice… it looks a lot more disgusting, it looks as if a few dozen WM trucks had lost their loads.  Everyone should drive by and take a look before the clean up starts and see what the people that live near and drive by it everyday has had to live with. sad…and disgusting for all.

    • Paul Williams March 14, 2018 (6:38 pm)

      Amen. Amen. Amen. I live up the street and purchased a house in 2014. None of this was there. It is very disgusting. I once followed a guy who was carrying a bag and had dropped a needle. I stopped and let him know about his self

  • Kalo March 14, 2018 (7:41 am)

    We were by there yesterday, and it appeared the cleanup was starting – a WSP officer was there, several pieces of equipment. When we came by later, some cleanup had taken place. It is an awful mess in that area. The garbage battle is just getting started!

  • West Seattle Hipster March 14, 2018 (7:52 am)

    How is this considered “ok” by local leadership?  Why is no one being held accountable for this criminal behavior?

    Laws are not being enforced consistently.

  • gh March 14, 2018 (8:52 am)

    They should make the transients clean-up their mess…

    • gxnx March 14, 2018 (10:22 am)

      They should make the city council members  clean-up their mess….

  • Also john March 14, 2018 (9:01 am)

    I was so glad when they cleaned up the mess under the lower West Seattle Bridge.  I just couldn’t understand how a few tents were able to completely cover the area with trash.  It was absolutely gross.  And the smell of pee was horrific.  When they left the site…they left their mess….thanks.

  • MJ March 14, 2018 (9:19 am)

    Littering is against the law, were these violators fined?  forced to clean up their mess?

    There is no excuse, I rode by a tent site under the viaduct Monday.  This site was well kept with minimal litter.  Thus the question why the City does not aggressively cite people who litter?  

    • AMD March 14, 2018 (9:32 am)

      This area is the state’s property, not the city’s for one…

    • Jort March 14, 2018 (9:45 am)

      Maybe because it’s a waste of time and energy?

      What are the homeless people going to do? Pay the fine with their imaginary dollars?

      • HpDude March 14, 2018 (4:40 pm)

        How about community service instead of fines. We have laws and just because someone is homeless they don’t get a free pass they literally destroyed that green belt and the runoff from untreated waste makes its way into drainage and waterways eventually. Fining is pointless ordering community service at least repays the debt to society and maybe they can get some help at the same time

    • Also John March 14, 2018 (9:52 am)

      @MJ…  You’re correct!  They’re definitely are a few that keep it clean.  Like the guy who’s under the Spokane Street Bridge, before the lower bridge, on the right hand side.  That guy has kept his site clean for months…..although he’s getting a bit carried away with his Seahawk paraphernalia….  :-) 

  • PW March 14, 2018 (11:02 am)

    @Hipster……..That is a great question.  I suspect a few of our city council members are in cahoots with those that are supplied a significant amount of income from the taxpayers money.  Another question for the rest of our cities citizens…..How in the world do you keep voting to keep these people in office.   Have you not seen enough of the waste of money, rampant taxation at every turn, and no improvements to show for it.

    • KM March 14, 2018 (11:14 am)

      In all fairness, voter turnout isn’t great, not all these races are won in a landslide (certainly wasn’t in the District 1 race), and not everyone is even registered to vote who can be. There are more residents of the city who are not electing our leaders than are, maybe that will give you some hope for your fellow Seattleites if you are bothered by those currently in office?

      I’m sure there’s some stats out there showing the # of residents able to register to vote vs. # of those who vote for the winner. Would be interesting to see.

      • PW March 14, 2018 (12:30 pm)

         Very valid points.  That would be an interesting statistic to see.  It is unfortunate that voter apathy is prominent in most elections around the country.  I would even suggest that locally, much of that apathy comes from people who share some of the same concerns I hold.  So, when I ask the question of how the citizens keep voting the same people into office, it relates to those that don’t vote(care) as well as the people that do vote for many of those that currently hold public office.  I honestly can’t understand how even a small majority of citizens DO vote for them when the track record over the past several years has produced no meaningful results in any way.  Only increases in taxes.   Have we become so blindly partisan and/or extreme that we vote only for the letter(D or R), and not the results, or lack thereof, produced. 


        • Jort March 14, 2018 (2:33 pm)

          PW, just an FYI, we already have non-partisan city council and mayoral elections. There is no “D” or “R” — next to anybody’s name.

          As for the idea that literally nothing has been done in our city, well — we are one of America’s richest and most economically thriving cities. Home prices are skyrocketing and wages are increasing. 

          Perhaps Seattle is not as bleak as the doomsayers constantly say?

          • Mort March 15, 2018 (9:30 am)

            Thank you, Jort- you’re exactly wrong. The qualities you cite about Seattle’s thriving economy are DISTINCT PROOF of how truly bleak Seattle has become. Even though Seattle is experiencing record revenues, unprecedented job opportunity and skyrocketing home values- green spaces are choking with lawlessness and bio waste, and tax money is plundered and/or flushed down the toilet. With the given resources, revenue and natural beauty of this region- Imagine what this city would look like if it was effectively run?! (Instead of effectively run DOWN!)

  • wseakell March 14, 2018 (11:49 am)

    I wrote the following letter to Dow Constantine and KC councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles last month and never got a response, which was disappointing. I’m happy to hear they’re starting to clean it up – I hope they clean IT ALL up.

    I’m writing as a very concerned citizen of King County.  I drive the 509 corridor to and from work every day.  Over the last few months the west hillside on the North end of 509 has become riddled with homeless encampments and piles upon piles of trash.

    span class=”il”>509 is a gateway into the city of Seattle – visitors to the city often take that freeway into and out of Seattle to and from the SeaTac airport.  I hate to think this trash-ridden hillside be the first or last monstrosity people see and associate with our beautiful city.  .

    It’s unsafe and unsanitary for the poor people that live on the hillside, not safe from weather or mudslides and living in trash ridden conditions. It’s worrisome for the environment – who knows what kinds of chemicals and/or human excrements are in the piles of trash. And it’s most worrisome for the tax-paying citizens who have to be witness to this growing pile each day we drive by.  How do we explain to visitors and our children that local lawmakers and police allow for this to happen in our beloved King County.

    I ask, as a tax paying and active member of society, as a mother of one and soon-to-be two young boys, that you please do something about this. Protect the people that are living in these conditions, protect the hillside’s environment, which is home to native plants and animals, and please bring respect back to the active people of the county.

    I would love to hear back from you as to a plan of action to this matter.  Thank you for your time and attention. 

  • MJ March 14, 2018 (4:55 pm)


    If the litterers do not have money they could be required to conduct community service such as picking up litter.


  • flimflam March 14, 2018 (5:25 pm)

    its amazing that the thought of the ones making these messes actually help clean them up is considered cruel, mean, etc…

    all laws should be enforced equally to all citizens. what we have here now in this city is pretty wild, where seemingly anything goes (until its visible enough or people complain loudly).

  • Rick March 14, 2018 (8:04 pm)

    We have a new “special,privileged society now” that isn’t required to abide by the very same laws the folks that are taxed to pay for their very existence. The “heroin tourism” business in Seattle is alive and well. Majority of this is choice. As well as the Seattle Homeless industrial complex. Where the eff is all that money going? And it will NEVER EVER be enough. Our children,grandchildren and great grandchildren will OWE and be taxed for this as long as you vote “D”. 

  • 1994 March 14, 2018 (9:28 pm)

    Maybe the homeless could be paid a small amount to help clean up the mess they left since they don’t have imaginary dollars to pay a fine for their massive littering? Like the alcoholics in Amsterdam that clean the streets and get paid with some beer?

     Everyone needs a job and we gotta try something new because what has been happening the last 10 years hasn’t helped much. Payment should be made from the homeless agencies who receive funds to help the homeless.

    • Jort March 15, 2018 (10:22 am)

      This is among the best ideas I’ve seen so far in any of these horribly depressing homeless discussion threads.

      I join with many of you in believing that the homeless situation in Seattle is completely inexcusable. Not just here, but all across this country.

      We are one of the richest cities in the richest country in human history. I have traveled much of the world and I have never seen another developed country with the levels of homelessness we tolerate in the United States. 

      Whatever we’ve been doing is clearly not working. I am open to solutions that will work, because other countries have managed to make it happen.

      Here’s one thing, though: other countries haven’t mitigated homelessness through fines and tickets, they’ve mitigated it through building homes. And, of course, Seattle is a textbook example of a city whose residents steadfastly refuse to allow construction of more homes.

  • lu March 14, 2018 (11:07 pm)

    The rot of this area is spreading because of leadership that refuses to do the hard best thing for everyone involved (enabling drug addicts by allowing them to camp and other types of lawlessness to continue is not being “kind” to anyone). On top of it all, now they’re robbing us through property taxes… As soon as I’m able, I’m leaving this sorry place. As fAR away as possible . Once enough of us who respect the law leave, it will be so much more comfortable for the campers and a government who is tired of hearing from us; we are so mean and ungenerous.

  • flimflam March 16, 2018 (11:56 am)

    wow. after the “cleanup” there is still a huge mess there and tons of campers…not quite what i expected.

  • raisedinburien62yrs March 16, 2018 (12:27 pm)

    @Flimflam…really? UGH I’m going to have to do a drive by and take a look,  are they done, done or just for the week I wonder?


    • WSB March 16, 2018 (12:37 pm)

      I will be checking with the city. We finally drove by yesterday afternoon and while shooting mostly useless phone video out the window I did note a visible camping area remained. Maybe south of the city limits.

Sorry, comment time is over.