City crews ‘removing unmanaged encampment’ in greenbelt off Highland Park Way hill

While checking out something unrelated, we spotted that line of city vehicles parked in the coned-of outside uphill lane of Highland Park Way, west of W. Marginal Way SW. Looked to us like an encampment cleanup – nowhere on the hill to safely stop and ask, but we’ve since confirmed it with city homelessness-response spokesperson Will Lemke, who replied to our inquiry:

The Navigation Team is removing an unmanaged encampment in that area. We estimate there to be less than a dozen living structures down in the greenbelt. The encampment is being removed for public health and safety concerns. Individuals access the area by crossing the roadway, which presents hazards to both people on foot and vehicles. Further, there is a lot of garbage, waste, and debris present within the encampment. As you know, extending emergency services to this location would be challenging as well. Lastly — and this usually is the case with encampments in the area — the natural environment has been negatively impacted. Navigation Team field coordinators and Parks crews have observed trees being cut down. The team has outreach workers on site for the clean-up.

The vehicles we saw were primarily Seattle Police and Seattle Parks, with one King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, plus a backhoe. The area’s had unauthorized camping for years, dating all the way back to the days of the original Nickelsville on the other side of West Marginal.

SIDE NOTE: The advisory Board of Park Commissioners has a briefing on “SPR’s Role in Encampment Cleanup” on its agenda for tomorrow night (PDF).

35 Replies to "City crews 'removing unmanaged encampment' in greenbelt off Highland Park Way hill"

  • Chuck October 9, 2019 (11:27 am)

    About f$#cking time.  

  • West Seattle Hipster October 9, 2019 (11:41 am)

    Were there any arrests made?

    • Mr J October 9, 2019 (12:43 pm)

      Why arrest people who are homeless? That’s not a crime, but if you want to lock people up because they’re poor and living in the woods you need Jesus.

      • RightOnDonkeyKong October 9, 2019 (1:54 pm)

        No one is advocating to make arrests because they are homeless. Rather, they are littering in massive quantities (including toxic substances), cutting down trees on public property (remember the outrage when that happened last time in West Seattle), and yes – trespassing. The reality is that these folks have other options on where to stay, but choose this location because they want to continue living how they want to live.  Not on my dime, and not at the expesne of the environment. In short, the premise that we want to lock them up because they are poor and have no place to go is utterly and demonstrably false.

    • AMD October 9, 2019 (1:37 pm)

      West Seattle Hipster, I understand how concerned you are that these people have indoor shelter with three warm meals a day, especially given the changing season.  I further appreciate how much of your own tax money you’re willing to spend to make that happen.  That said, there are numerous other ways to provide adequate shelter and food to the most vulnerable among us at SIGNIFICANTLY less expense to us taxpayers than jail.  

      • fitz October 9, 2019 (2:24 pm)

        Are you so sure these people are “vulnerable?”

        • AMD October 9, 2019 (4:06 pm)


      • Spooled October 9, 2019 (3:20 pm)

        Did you see the pile of bicycles and propane tanks?  If anyone is vulnerable it is the neighborhood around these camps.  You and me.  I commute through that area about 3 am daily and witness the constant flow of stolen-looking items making their way out of Highland Park or from the nearby businesses.Sweep the camps.  Scrap the RV’s.  Move along.

  • Trickycoolj October 9, 2019 (12:14 pm)

    I’ve been smelling a lot of campfire smoke on my daily commute. Definitely could be a serious issue if a fire got out of control in that green belt. 

    • ColumbiaChris October 9, 2019 (9:26 pm)

      Yep, October is prime fire season in Seattle. /s

  • anonyme October 9, 2019 (12:16 pm)

    Good.  These camps need to be cleaned out before they become established.

  • sw October 9, 2019 (12:17 pm)

    On a related note…   According to KIRO host Dori Monson’s twitter, someone towed a junky RV and left it in front of Lisa Herbold’s house.  Any truth to this?  

    • Me October 9, 2019 (5:36 pm)

      Yes, it’s true. And it’s spray painted with listen to Dori at noon. Pretty stupid. 

    • ColumbiaChris October 9, 2019 (9:35 pm)

      The latest news is that the RV was parked there coincidentally and was unrelated to recent threats by Dori Monson and Ari Hoffman to park derelict RVs in front of councilmembers’ homes. That didn’t stop Dori from putting the word out and having his fans show up to vandalize someone’s private property, including breaking and entering. Word is that a reporter from KIRO also entered the RV to film. On the plus side, we now have confirmation that Dori Monson is a worthless clown and that KIRO is even more of a joke than Sinclair’s KOMO.

  • Also John October 9, 2019 (12:40 pm)

    For me I wouldn’t be bothered as long as the homeless kept their sites clean.  Because they don’t it’s an absolute slap in the face to nature and Seattle residennts.This City is already a garbage dump and these homeless sites exqulate the problem.

  • DBurns October 9, 2019 (1:03 pm)

    I really appreciate this one as this encampment seemed so permanent. There were lights, a fire pit (!) and lots of wood strewn about at the corner and trailhead, indicating that actual building was going on. Hopefully the trail will get cleaned up and regrowth will happen in the spring. It’s a really lovely trail that ends up on 16th. It really should be used by the community again but as people start setting up camp it feels intimidating and unwelcoming. As if you’re crossing over people’s personal space. Hope the campers get some help to relocate to a more permanent solution. 

    • highlandpark mom October 9, 2019 (6:17 pm)

      I agree with your comments.  Late summer, the encampment behind 4th Ave and Kenyon have definitely over extended themselves and cut a hole in the fence to semi-permanently attach a garden hose for water access, while the house was in the market.  It’s about time the city need to take a stand and do something for the Highland Park neighborhood.

  • Done with it October 9, 2019 (1:20 pm)

    Thanks team for forcing these people to simply relocate and build again.  Wasting taxpayer dollars yet again. Most of the people there will refuse assistance, and simply start building somewhere else, kicking the can down the road for the same people to clean up in a couple months.  If they had drugs there, it’s a crime. Since they most certainly do have drugs there (public drinking is a crime too, last I checked, and they are in public definitely drinking) then they need to go to jail.  California has drug courts that WORK and keep addicts out of actual jail and gets them back on their feet and contributing to society again. Seattle has nothing, so these people will be right back in our backyards tomorrow, regardless if they’re thrown I’m jail or not.

    • flimflam October 9, 2019 (4:38 pm)

      sorry, but the “campers” are the ones wasting our tax dollars when they don’t accept services that are you said, “ Most of the people there will refuse assistance, and simply start building somewhere else”that should Not be an option.

  • D Del Rio October 9, 2019 (1:29 pm)

    A lot of work has been done to restore parts of this greenbelt by removing invasive species, and planting native under-story and native evergreens. I just hope it wasn’t destroyed. I used to volunteer for their work parties, and the homeless back then kept to themselves, and did not leave garbage, needles, and human excrement like some of them do today. 

    • datamuse October 9, 2019 (7:16 pm)

      With Nature Consortium? I used to volunteer with them too, and did some restoration work in that area.

      • D Del Rio October 10, 2019 (2:54 am)

        Yes, and with Earthcorps too!

  • patrick October 9, 2019 (2:16 pm)

    All for show since elections are coming up next month.  Please remember this is only temporary with hopes it will get our current reps re elected.  It will go back to exactly the same after the elections without new representatives.   How about we see something about the goings on with the biggest news in West Seattle……the broken down garbage filled RV that someone parked in front of Lisa Herbold’s house.   

    • AMD October 9, 2019 (4:10 pm)

      That RV “protest” was orchestrated by failed D2 candidate and Safe Seattle hate-group member Ari Hoffman.  If she’s making people of that ilk crabby, I want to vote for her even more.

      • AMD October 9, 2019 (10:03 pm)

        I stand corrected.  Hoffman recently threatened to do this and the graffiti on the side had some people convinced enough they reported he was behind it.  The full story is interesting, strange, and very telling about how the homeless are treated in our city.  The good news is, the inaccurate reporting followed by real clarifications seems to have gotten the story out wider than it otherwise would have been and now people are taking up donations to help the family in the RV out.

      • D Del Rio October 10, 2019 (7:30 am)

        That is not what happened. The people who own the trailer were homeless and are now living with relatives who live a few blocks away. Seems funny that that eyesore wasn’t parked in front of that house instead. It was by chance that it was parked by Lisa’s house.  Watch the news and read the paper for the whole story. Now Safe Seattle is a “hate group” according to you? I have heard it all! 

    • KayK October 9, 2019 (5:27 pm)

      Saw that RV being hauled through very narrow side streets (they had to try a couple of times to make some corners) ironically being towed by a Home Depot rental pick up. Not sure what the point is supposed to be.

  • Mj October 9, 2019 (10:36 pm)

    Whatever happened to personal RESPONSIBILITY.  Campers who keep their sites clean I can tolerate, those that don’t need to be made to clean up the mess they create and then told to leave.  Enough already!

  • Lincoln park love October 10, 2019 (7:30 am)

    It’s Yom Kippur. Some look towards their compass and see if it leads to a direction they wish to follow. What is right in there for you.     LBTQ people are on the streets. Old people are on the streets. People with disabilities seen and unseen. Some escaping abuse. So many women have been sexually abused. There are people with drug problems. I think if you gave them a way to OD they would. “The poor , they are so dirty. ” “Why must they go through garbage cans?”” Why can’t they subscribe to garbage service?”  In my opinion love one another its a start . 

    • Whaaa? October 10, 2019 (8:52 am)

      That is not their area. It belong to everyone. They took it as if it belongs to them. You and I know nothing about them. They could be great people or they could be total derelicts. Doesn’t matter. There are services our city offers to help. They chose not to use them. Doesn’t mean they get to permanently camp in our green spaces meant for all and create environmental hazards. There has to be limits to what people can do. 

    • Heylady October 10, 2019 (9:31 am)

      Thank goodness for people like you. 

  • Lincolnparklove October 10, 2019 (3:10 pm)

    I hope you do not have to find services for yourself or someone else when you find a situation unmanageable you would then know what’s really out there for people. Some times people get lucky. Lottery like lucky. There is a reason people refuse services.  Encampments  are somewhere we need  to clean up for the health of those in them and our own health  its the price of civilization.  Even those someone would  never consider has some freedoms or rights I guess. Speaking of messes we are still a super fund site. 

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