Another big unauthorized-camping cleanup under way in southeast West Seattle

Police mentioned to community groups including the Highland Park Action Committee last month that the unauthorized-camping area near 1st Avenue S. and SW Kenyon, along the west side of Highway 509, was scheduled for a cleanup. Today, it began. We found the cleanup under way when we went down to the area after hearing an in-passing mention on police radio. Our photos show the cleanup activity visible from the roadside, with heavy equipment much like the operation on the east side of Myers Way last fall:

Roadside trees were posted with this notice, indicating a fairly wide area [map] planned for cleanup today and tomorrow:

In addition to that area, “No Parking” signage stretched northward along 1st and to the west along Highland Park Way east of W. Marginal. To find out more about the cleanup, we contacted city homelessness-response spokesperson Will Lemke, who replied: “The area was posted as a ’72-hour removal,’ which means occupants of the area were given 3 days’ notice and received advanced outreach ahead of the clean-up. Shelter is available for everyone living unsheltered at the site and we will store suitable possessions (not destroyed by water, soiled, etc). Navigation Team was concerned about the accumulation of garbage and waste on site, and the impacts to the natural environment.” He said six people were found in the area before the cleanup: “There were 30 shelter beds available today — including 24/7, enhanced shelter options. 6 people on-site. No word yet if they took shelter.”

32 Replies to "Another big unauthorized-camping cleanup under way in southeast West Seattle"

  • flimflam April 17, 2019 (5:48 pm)

    Navigation Team was concerned about the accumulation of garbage and waste on site, and the impacts to the natural environment.”unfortunately this scene is playing out all over the city. makes me so sad to see what has become/is becoming of this city and what is now considered acceptable or at the least, tolerated.many of our greenbelts drain into the sound eventually…

  • Mj April 17, 2019 (6:06 pm)

    If homeowners left trash on public property we would be cited for illegal littering.  Enough already with the double standard.

    • Tsurly April 18, 2019 (9:50 am)

      BS. I’m constantly picking up trash on my street and in the alley lined with $800k+ houses, either junk thrown on the ground or caused by unsecure trash cans. I’ve complained to the city multiple times without any result.

  • MJ April 17, 2019 (7:02 pm)

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility?  Enough already!  Imagine if these resources were used to enhance parks, keep community centers, libraries open longer hours.  But instead we are requested to pay levies for libraries and parks.

  • Sam-c April 17, 2019 (7:03 pm)

    I hope the 6 people still onsite will still have shelter options and take the opportunity to relocate. Such a sad situation for them and all the others who face the impacts of the unauthorized camp area.

    • dftl April 18, 2019 (3:13 pm)

      They won’t take the shelter – can’t drink and shoot-up there.

  • Dale April 17, 2019 (7:17 pm)

    These same camps were swept three or four months ago.  Required a huge police/cleanup response then, guessing costs of ten’s of thousands of tax dollars.  Would love to hear an actual number from the city.  Within two weeks the first RVS and campers were back, allowed to congregate again until another sweep was required today to try to control another environmental nightmare.  What’s wrong with this plan?

    • Quora April 17, 2019 (10:33 pm)

      This is a good comment, and it also assumes what the city has employed here is a “plan”, which may be loosely accurate.Same line of thinking regarding the head tax that ultimately failed. The city can’t take money then figure out the plan later. That ship has sailed. This “camp” has been cleaned before, to the tune of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money. Those that come back litter and destroy the area, meanwhile law abiding, tax paying citizens like you and I are dinged with civil fines, late fees, etc. left and right in order to keep the City’s pockets fat. Remember folks; two sets of laws that are enforced in Seattle now. I’m seriously considering dumping trash in a park just to make a statement of how absurd this double standard has become.

  • 1994 April 17, 2019 (9:22 pm)

    Campers, meaning people, and junk appeared under the 1st Ave S bridge, north end, about 3 days ago. An RV is just along side there too. Perhaps some just crossed the river.There is no personal responsibility. The city continues to clean up after them so there is no reason to be accountable for anything or to anyone.

  • Jerry April 17, 2019 (11:23 pm)

    When are they gonna clean up the one at 26th and Graham.  Sounds a similar size and we’ve reported it many times.

  • Hoku April 17, 2019 (11:36 pm)

    Had a conversation with a man last night who explained to me he was homeless by choice, Seattle is the easiest city to be homeless in and he’s figured out how to get a college degree without paying for it.  Paid for my own college education and have always paid for a place to live. How dumb am I?

    • me April 18, 2019 (11:11 am)

      I’m dumb too, I pee inside and have toilet paper when I’m done, same with pooping, I turn up the heat when I’m cold, I have clean clothes, I eat whatever I want whenever I want, I have netflix, I have friends over…why do I do it when I could be laying in cold, dirty tent next to the freeway right now…

    • Jort April 18, 2019 (11:40 am)

      Wow, what a totally real-sounding conversation that totally doesn’t confirm every conservative talking point about the homeless in this election cycle! I’m so impressed you managed to find a homeless man who helpfully verified every weird, specific claim in conservative anti-homeless campaigning this year! Such a crazy and cool conincidece! Gosh I wonder how that managed to happen! Wow!   

      • Hoku April 18, 2019 (6:59 pm)

        He actually found me at a dive bar in Pioneer Square. I was so astounded at his explanation that, after he left, I confirmed with another patron that they heard what I heard.

        • Mike April 21, 2019 (12:41 am)

          JORT won’t acknowledge reality.  I’ve heard similar stories when talking to people living on the street and in the tent camps.  It’s not a one time scenario, it’s multiple times.  They typically approach me asking for money, I say no.  Those that don’t tell me to go @#$@! myself or threaten to kill me actually try to chat.  They will tell you exactly what their story is if you ask them.  Unlike JORT, some of us actually walk around and have actually talked to people in real life.

    • zark00 April 18, 2019 (5:05 pm)

      How’s that prozac and whiskey going down while you gripe and pitch about the “druggies”?  Hypocritical nimbys.  Why don’t you stop complaining and do something to help?  If you drink the Seattle is dying koolaid you’re part of the problem not at all part of the solution.  Grow a pair and help instead of just whining and complaining and doing absolutely nothing.

  • Bob April 18, 2019 (6:26 am)

    Homeless don’t care otherwise they wouldn’t be homeless there are many shelters for them to visit.  They just move on to a new location causing more damage and filth. It must be a disgusting task cleaning up after the encampments. It would be interesting to know what is causing this growing problem, then finding a resolution rather than enabling homeless to keep wandering from place to place. This is a huge waste of tax dollars and man power.  Is it substance abuse, mental illness, laziness, or economic hardship? Obviously the current resolution is not working. 

  • T Rex April 18, 2019 (8:57 am)

    I work by this mess and it was truly disgusting. They simply moved right around the corner where 599 begins in front of the Northwest Center. Unless the city puts up concrete barrier like they did on Detroit Ave SW, they will be back within a couple of weeks.  AND right across the street is another smaller group closes to the waterway and they are STILL THERE!This is our tax dollars at work people, moving them does NOTHING.  Until voters in this city vote people into office who have a pair, this will only get worse.  The things myself and my co-workers have seen are not allowed to be printed on this blog. It is truly disgusting and I have no compassion for these people. I literally saw a man using heroin sitting in a parked car at a stop sign. 
    KOMO got it right, Seattle is dying.

  • me April 18, 2019 (11:04 am)

    they’re not camping, they’re trying to survivehomeless people often have a background of extreme abuse or mental illness and no support systemthat leads to substance abuse and a state of extreme hopelessnessit’s difficult to accept help in that statetry to remember a time when you were really angry and someone tried to cheer you up, you were not having it in that momentyou can’t go from being angry straight to being happy (usually) and you also can’t go from a lifetime of hopelessness to having hope, it’s a process

    • Logicum April 18, 2019 (5:52 pm)

      This would be the “Slippery Slope” fallacy, no? 

      • me April 18, 2019 (6:26 pm)


  • Chicago April 18, 2019 (2:08 pm)

    Letting drug addicts live in these dangerous, filthy conditions until they die of an overdose is not compassion.  We care about these precious souls who have been overtaken by addiction .  As a community let’s be like firm, loving parents who intervene when our children are being self-destructive.  Let’s use our tax dollars to create a safe, clean, comfortable mandatory facility where homeless drug addicts are taken until they complete a detox program and receive training and support to re-enter society as productive members.  If my children grow up to be drug addicts this is what I would want the city to do for them–intervene!  The fact that they are camping and dumping garbage illegally gives us as a community a right to have them arrested and taken to detox to get help.  This approach will save lives and restore our city.  All we need is the political will.

    • Nancy April 18, 2019 (2:40 pm)


    • Hey Now April 18, 2019 (5:56 pm)

      Seconded. My youngest daughter fought off addiction and habitual homeless since she was 13, a result of sexual abuse tied with mental illness (that we attempted to treat and help her with as soon as we found out and saw warning signs.) She defiantly refused help. So many people, including those with the county and state, were pleaded with to assist rehabilitating her. One person eventually reached her. She did the rest of the work. She graduated on time with her class after missing the majority of her high school years. College graduate, home of her own, volunteers in the community and works for a major corporation. She is doing amazingly well in every aspect now in her 20’s. Her story is also not rare, unfortunately. Everyday I pass by these encampments and wonder if she had not overcome, would anyone would’ve cared enough to persist for her soul? My prior harsh perspective has dramatically changed to see many of these people as humans and not reducing them as being off-cast trash. I have no solution. Drugs and mental illness are everyone’s problem. I don’t expect everyone to see it from my newfound “liberal” point of view. I just know that I am grateful for my fortune of not being in that situation,  nor are my loved ones. 

    • question April 18, 2019 (10:09 pm)

      Chicago: I was sort of with you until you specifically said your plan was for “homeless drug addicts”.  My question to you is why does it matter if they are homeless or not?  All of your points about intervention hold, but why (and how?) does the element of homelessness matter?  If someone is a drug addict and NOT homeless, do they not get intervention?  What about someone who is not an addict but is homeless?  Is homelessness just an easy way to mark someone as needing intervention?  Is this a reasonable stance? 

      • Chicago April 20, 2019 (10:43 am)

         My comments were to specifically address the issue of the illegal camping sites that have sprung up all over the city in the last several years.  They are dirty, dangerous places for people to live and they create a lot of ugliness and stench for the law abiding citizens who live near them.  Many, not all, of these campers are drug addicts. Their addiction has reduced them to living in these terrible conditions.  I propose mandatory detox for these illegal campers as one way to reduce the amount of these problematic campsites all over the city.  If a person is addicted to drugs but is still able to  hold him/herself together enough to keep a job and a home and their family connections, then their family can be their main source of help and intervention.  For those addicts who have lost everything including their home and job and family relationships,  perhaps the city is their last hope for intervention.  It is illegal to abuse drugs; it is illegal to camp where they are camping; it is illegal to use public land as your toilet; it is illegal to dump garbage on public lands.  For the good of these homeless addicts and for the good of our city our laws should be enforced and these homeless addicts should be arrested for their illegal activities and take into an intensive rehabilitation facility— not as a punishment but as a way to rescue them.  Homeless people who are not addicted are usually much easier to help.  You can give them money and they will put it toward rent, whereas an addict will put the money toward drugs.  A solution has to start somewhere, so one start would be to enforce our laws and get these homeless drug addicts  mandatory rehabilitation.   I think there are many of us who would be willing to donate money to a program that  housed these addicted people in a clean, safe place where they could be medically treated and could participate in a training program that rewarded them with increasing freedom for responsible behavior. 

  • steve April 18, 2019 (4:43 pm)

    IDEA!   If I pretend to be homeless, can I take all of my garbage, dump it in a greenbelt, and not have to worry about any penalties or fees? ….Yeahhhh, I guess it sounds crazy.  But maybe if I’m dragging a sleeping bag with me it would work.  Just wondering……IDEA 2!  Wouldn’t be easier for all and less costly if the city just left a dumpster there? Or are they afraid taxpayers might occasionally use it?

    • Jethro Marx April 18, 2019 (8:53 pm)

      Idea #1 is stupid and someone earlier already suggested dumping garbage in parks to “point out the absurdity” or something absurd. Neither of you will do it, not because you respect the law but because you are cowards, or something equally sucky. #2 is ok, but we have lots of money, and lots of city employees- why don’t we just pay people to pick up trash that has been left somewhere we don’t care for it to be? It is stunning how many of you reduce the problem of homelessness to its effects on, well, you, the relatively affluent and housed population. But hey, I’m sure your life is tough, too! Sometimes my internet is like, sooo slow and stuff.

  • Folgers in Your Cup April 19, 2019 (6:48 pm)

    Enough of the enabling  banter,Get people the help they need and  hold repeat offenders accountable for destroying habitat, and breaking the laws of this community. 

  • Dale Rowe April 27, 2019 (2:08 pm)

    Three of the largest RVs have returned this week.  Watch them multiply again, until we pay thousands for another cleanup.  Been less than two weeks since the previous one.

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