‘ It’s time for action’: West Seattle Junction Association’s plea to the city about park problems

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Junction Plaza Park just passed its 10th anniversary. In those 10 years, it’s been the site of many celebrations and gatherings, including the annual community Christmas tree lighting.

Right now, it’s a source of concern.

Since the city installed a “hygiene station” there four months ago, though it already maintains a public porta-potty a block west, the West Seattle Junction Association has been receiving reports of what it summarizes as “escalating violence and drug use in the park.”

Out of “the continued frustration of our citizens, coupled with the escalating violence, compounded by zero response (or accountability) from Human Services,” WSJA executive director Lora Radford has just launched a webpage meant to call public attention to some of those concerns and ask for community support in seeking a city response.

One example of the escalation of trouble in and near the park: The recent rampage at the QFC across the street, for which a suspect has been charged and remains in jail. But that’s just one incident mentioned in some of the anecdotes and observations posted on the page so far. While trash and discarded needles are mentioned, so are concerns about personal safety:

“… while I was sitting on a bench in the park trying to comb my dog, a young man approached me and accused me of staring at his girlfriend, then promptly flashed a large knife at me and told me to leave the park.”

“… There was a police response as a belligerent and violent man was accosting his fellow transients but also two innocent men who were literally just walking by on the sidewalk.”

“… We have had instances of our tenants being verbally accosted while trying to cross the street at that location and an instance where a colleague was chased by one of person s congregating in the park.”

The WSJA’s page makes it clear that it’s fully aware that the big picture involves “significant health, economic, and social challenges” and services are needed. But in the meantime, it’s concerned about safety – of the vulnerable people in the park as well as others in the area. It is asking all those with concerns to contact the Human Services Department (info). So far, after previous contacts, the only response from the city is a reply that just acknowledged the concerns and added:

You are correct that providing mental health and drug addiction counseling services is a broader question that needs to be addressed city-wide.

The Hygiene Station program team includes representatives from the Human Services Department (HSD), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), Office of the Mayor, Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Many team members are also working on COVID-19 and homelessness response issues and policies.

Aside from that acknowledgment a week ago, nothing, says Radford. So here’s how you can help if you have concerns too:

When you observe illegal behavior or see drug and mental illness issues in the park – first and foremost, please call 911. Please do not engage with the persons.

Send an email to Human Services. Together, we can work to elevate the need for more mental and drug counselors at the park. Let’s get people to the services they need, and support accountability:

Copy/paste into the send line of your email

Tom.VanBronkhorst3@seattle.gov; Frank.Coulter@seattle.gov; Bill.Benzer@seattle.gov; Tess.Colby@seattle.gov; Lisa.Gustaveson@seattle.gov; Donna.Waters@seattle.gov

cc: Lora@wsjunction.org

Or Call Human Services
Tom Van Bronkhorst
Office: 206.233.3954

Other business districts in the city have similar concerns; WSJA recently joined with some of its counterparts in this letter to the city. An excerpt:

We ask you take small businesses and the owners, employees, customers, and adjacent residents into consideration when assessing the public safety needs for the constituents of this city. Seattle is at a crossroads and is choosing its path forward. It’s time for us to ask our leaders, both legislative and executive, to find a way to work together to achieve what they essentially agree on: a reimagined municipal social contract—especially around public safety—that protects and lifts up all of us. Confronting and dismantling systemic racism and providing a safe environment for our neighborhood business districts are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they rely on each other completely.

For the Junction Association, the bottom line is at the end of its new page: “Join us. It’s time for action.”

118 Replies to "' It’s time for action': West Seattle Junction Association's plea to the city about park problems"

  • oerthehill September 16, 2020 (4:52 pm)

    And if we get a LEAD program set up here, we’ll see even more of this kind of unsafe activity. I sure hope we as a community think real hard and look at the downfall of their neighborhoods where these service offices are, before we push for one here.

  • BKRDT September 16, 2020 (5:11 pm)

    Thank you, Junction Association! Absolutely time for action. 

  • flimflam September 16, 2020 (5:28 pm)

    easy solution or not, the city cannot continue to ignore/allow/even encourage these situations. i realize jail won’t help things entirely, but there needs to be consequences for this behavior – homeless or not, mentally ill or not, addict or not. to do nothing (either to help or in the worst situations, make an arrest) in encouraging and normalizing this stuff. i wish no harm on anyone, but this isn’t right.

  • vee September 16, 2020 (5:34 pm)

    this is so unsafe and scary something has to be done I have been at qfc several times when they had to call police not safe for workers and neighborhood or even if walking by I was there today and police out there againI sent email to lis   several mths a go to deaf ears

  • vee September 16, 2020 (5:40 pm)

    very dangerous   and unsafe  police were there again today and I have spoke with qfc who are very frustrated they even had to remove  outside benches  because of litter and late partying after store closed i have been at store several times when police were called due to thefts not fair  to workers and community to allow this illegal  and dangerous activity

  • Winston Smith September 16, 2020 (5:55 pm)

    Why not copy Lisa Herbold on those emails as well? 

    • Bradley September 16, 2020 (6:24 pm)

      Because all her mail boxes are full and won’t be answered. 

  • Duffy September 16, 2020 (6:03 pm)

    I’m with this 100 percent. It has gotten noticeably worse the last year or two, and our lovely city center, the Junction, is turning into an unsafe and unattractive place. We cannot let this happen. I’m tired of it, not so much for myself, but for our kids. They have every right to enjoy that area as do we; not to have the area held hostage by folks that may be in need, but others that straight up abuse the system and follow their own set of rules. Don’t classify this as just people down on their luck. There are criminals that hang out in those parts daily. Enough is enough.

    • flimflam September 16, 2020 (6:23 pm)

      it really doesn’t if they are in need or not – threats, violence, etc are just not part of an acceptable society. as much as one may want to argue that the system needs to be fixed (true) we can also expect/demand simple laws be enforced and public safety held as a priority – for those in need as well as hardworking taxpayers trying to get by.

  • M September 16, 2020 (6:11 pm)

    Lisa? 

  • David September 16, 2020 (6:19 pm)

    Btw, I can’t believe this statement from the editor….‘When you observe illegal behavior or see drug and mental illness issues in the park – first and foremost, please call 911. Please do not engage with the persons‘This is coming from a site where its reader consistently talk about defunding Police, call social workers instead…this is the definition of hypocrisy and elitism.  I guess police are only needed when you fear for your safety.  The hell with everyone else..

    • WSB September 16, 2020 (8:06 pm)

      Well, two things.
      #1 – That’s not my statement. That’s a quote from the Junction’s new page, as attributed, and that’s why it’s blue-blocked (some browsers may show it as indented italic).
      #2 – Some WSB commenters are in support of police reform/budget cuts. Some are not. We have 100.000 readers and absent polling, which we don’t do, no way to tell where a majority of readers stand – only a tiny fraction comprise comment participants. What are you trying to say? – TR

      • BJ September 16, 2020 (9:57 pm)

        Get ’em WSB! 

      • Cornelius T. Sourdough September 16, 2020 (10:05 pm)

        👍🔥 Big love to WSB especially in these times of ‘disinformation.’ Thank you!

    • miws September 17, 2020 (9:23 am)

      Wow, David, looks like you need to work on your reading comprehension. Aside from that, perhaps you could have politely asked WSB for clarification, rather than making such a strongly accusatory (and inaccurate) comment. —Mike

    • Abby September 17, 2020 (9:27 am)

      Calling 911 should not only equate to calling the police. 911 dispatch needs to have more resources at their disposal in times of emergencies that involve mental health needs, and crisis deescalation. 

      • Comments from inside... September 17, 2020 (5:17 pm)

        Yes, maybe there is a model in which de-escalation and mental health pros, and perhaps homelessness advocates are dispatched first, while police can be on standby for the situation.  

        It doesn’t seem to make sense for every scenario for a police officer to be first to approach or most helpful with some situations.  It can quickly escalate someone in a mental crisis.

        I guess try to imagine if you were in a crisis in public and and needing support, would you want to see police officers walking towards you, possibly with weapons drawn, or a caring person with a blanket asking if you’d like some help or to talk. How might those two scenarios impact your fragile mental state?

        This is where defunding police comes into play, because these other emergency professionals would need to be onboarded  and available to respond, just as quickly as police are.

        There is a lot to consider and figure out, but the community seeing a need for change and discussing, is a good first step, I hope. 

  • Triangle resident September 16, 2020 (6:22 pm)

    There are numerous homeless with children living between buildings and under car ports from Fauntleroy to 35th ave sw.  Some party all night , some walk through the alleys of 36, 37 and 38th collecting fruits and vegetables some scream all night.  I personally feel badly for the American Legion that is overwhelmed with this growing issue well before Covid. That grows nightly.  

  • Kravitz September 16, 2020 (6:27 pm)

    I wrote my letter to all of the above listed officials last night after receiving Lora Radford’s email. I mentioned similar things that I’ve witnessed at “Junkie Plaza Park” as well as The Triangle and Alki. It’s amusing (but not at all surprising) to have read that more window vandalism occurred last night in The Triangle, to another small business that doesn’t deserve to have to pay the price for our city’s failures. I feel like West Seattle has been all but forgotten by city officials. I feel for the people that live and work adjacent to that park, having to tolerate the literal sh*t show (yes, public pooping – regardless of the hygiene stations) day to day. I doubt I’ll hear a response from any of the people on my email list. Sure would be nice to have a job where there’s no reason to actually DO IT, and still earn a nice government paycheck and pension. 

  • Um, No! September 16, 2020 (6:27 pm)

    And yet we continue to elect the same people over and over.  Nothing will ever change as long as the current city counsel is in place and/or we keep electing  the same kind of candidates.  We keep electing them, why would they ever change?  Why would they ever listen to anyone about anything?  Seriously, why?  They seem to have job security.  Good job citizens of Seattle.  You reap what you sow.  Quit complaining and carry on.  

    • WSB September 16, 2020 (8:00 pm)

      No, the “same people” are not elected “over and over.” Five – a majority – of the current councilmembers are in their first term, four of them in their first year. All but one of the other four are in their second term. – TR

      • Fauntleroy Fairy September 17, 2020 (9:49 am)

        @WSB….         They may not be the same names, but they are, indeed, the “same people”……over and over and  over and over.   This has been happening all over the city for years, but no one here cares until it affects them and yes, I’m talking about the people in this community…NIMBY’s.  Truth is, a lot of communities around the city have been screaming for help for years. There are those of us that have been trying to address it, but have been drowned out by a city council/mayor that pass laws and throw money at “solutions” that are supposedly brought about in the name of compassion, but really only embolden criminals. Until we have politicians in this city that are more concerned with taxpaying citizens instead of power, things will only get worse. 

        • Um, No! September 17, 2020 (12:28 pm)

          @Fauntleroy Fairy –  Thank you.   I guess TR didn’t read my comment in it’s entirety.   I also said “same kind of candidates”.     They are all the same!  And yet the people of this city keep electing the same kind of candidates and continually gripe about how this city is falling apart at the seams.  Huh?  I wonder why?

        • CMT September 17, 2020 (12:35 pm)

          Thank you Fauntleroy Fairy.  I too understood Um No! to be speaking about the type of person, not literally the same persons, being elected.  And I am sorry to say I am one of the people you describe that did not notice the damage the City’s possibly well-intentioned plans and policies have done to Seattle.   Probably most of us are that way. It all sounds good until you realize the total lack of a coherent plan backed by research and analysis that underlie the City’s knee jerk policies with a feel good name slapped on them.   Unfortunately, the policies are starting to negatively impact more and more people.

          • WSB September 17, 2020 (12:53 pm)

            Even saying the “same type of person” is inaccurate. I’ve been covering news in Seattle for almost 30 years and have had to pay attention. For one, the current councilmembers disagree on various issues. And the five who left the council in the past couple years – let alone those who preceded them – were not ideologically aligned with those who succeeded them. – TR

          • Um, No! September 17, 2020 (1:17 pm)

            @WSB – No, it’s not inaccurate. I’ve been here just as long.   Many of the past and current counsel members might disagree on individual and specific issues and ways of governing  but overall, they have been  and are all very similar.  We can agree to disagree but if you really think we have had such diverse thinking counsel members over the years, I don’t know what to tell you.  It’s not reality. 

          • CMT September 17, 2020 (2:19 pm)

            Yes, WSB, you are correct, “type of person” is probably not the most accurate way to say it.   It would be more accurate to say that, as to the issues that are important to me (and to many people with whom I have communicated), most of the councilmembers serving over the last five years have supported similar legislative and policy approaches.  

      • CC September 17, 2020 (11:07 am)

        Yes! Thank you, WSB, for saying this. 

    • tonenotvolume September 17, 2020 (7:25 pm)

      You should stop and consider your statements before posting. Your inaccuracies only exacerbate the problem. Next time, fact check yourself. 

      • Um, No! September 17, 2020 (8:23 pm)

        What’s inaccurate about my statements?  

  • Elise Lindborg September 16, 2020 (6:36 pm)

    EVERYONE WHO POSTS ON THIS MESSAGE BOARD – Please take time to email your thoughts to the people listed below:Tom.VanBronkhorst3@seattle.gov; Frank.Coulter@seattle.gov; Bill.Benzer@seattle.gov; Tess.Colby@seattle.gov; Lisa.Gustaveson@seattle.gov; Donna.Waters@seattle.govcc: Lora@wsjunction.org These people need to hear from as many West Seattel residents as possible! Or Call Human ServicesTom Van BronkhorstOffice: 206.233.3954

  • Mr K September 16, 2020 (6:38 pm)

    I wish people were equally mad at the lack of affordable housing and our past 30yrs of budget cuts to social services. These problems exist because we allowed them to cut services to people because they “cost to much”. This is systemic and won’t stop until we tax the rich to pay for it. Want to see less homelessness? Vote for people who are not 90’s Republicans like Jenny.

    • DownTheWay September 16, 2020 (8:21 pm)

      Mr K: I am mad about the lack of funding for mental health care and lack of resources for people who want help. I have voted for every tax levy to fund social services. I donate to social services organizations. But to be sure, there are also people who don’t want “help”. They want to shoot drugs and steal and harass people and live on their own terms outside of civil society’s boundaries. These are the people that I’m seeing way more of in the Junction. I had a lifestyle many years ago that put me in close proximity to plenty of people like this and I have no interest in meekly co-existing with those who thrive on intimidation and wreaking havoc. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation to not be threatened, assaulted or have your property destroyed just because you have to go grocery shopping.

    • LHB September 17, 2020 (12:33 am)

      Thanks, Mr K.

    • MS_ September 17, 2020 (7:32 am)

      Mr K–most of us are well aware of the contributing causes and do what we can to change them, and yet also would like to address immediate, physical danger. (Of course, for a “Mr” this situation probably feels less threatening than for a “Ms.”)

  • Steve September 16, 2020 (7:05 pm)

    Why not copy Lisa Herbold? Because she is ineffective. You’re right, we’re all in this together. And we’re all having a hard time.  I  for one am frustrated with the  “Let’s cater to the lowest denominator” approach.  Not long ago a young man was mocking an Asian woman.  He was so startled when I pointedly said, ” Stop that behavior! ” that he immediately left the store.  It wasn’t easy but it had to be done. 

  • Junction Resident September 16, 2020 (7:20 pm)

    I’m genuinely concerned by the things I hear out my window (from my apartment located across the street from this park). This afternoon it was something like, “Call the police! Robbery! When I get to you…” This appeared to be a heated argument/screaming match between two transients who followed one another across the crosswalks/down the street (Alaska). Another slightly more alarming instance from last week was one person yelling, “I know where you live… and I know the code to the building!” Who knows if he truly knew/knows the code to the building. I found the idea of non-neighbors and non-neighbor guests entering the (my?) building to be alarming, when considering one’s own safety.

  • Disgusted and Fearful September 16, 2020 (7:41 pm)

    It has gotten exponentially worse since the port-a potties have been installed. Getting rid of them is the first step. Has Parks and Rec given up on collecting the trash in the park?  I saw a tent there this morning when I walked by to get to work. I WILL NOT walk by there after 9 am. I have taken to walk the long way home because I am disgusted and fearful. I will be sending an email to the people Lora has suggested. I am rather doubtful it will do any good though.

    • Erithan September 16, 2020 (9:04 pm)

      Sadly parks can’t as it was then mayors decision(I was told directly), I called off the bat with the concern when they put it in because I knew from my experience dealing with these guys it would make it worse. :/ This group that’s been there a little over a year(I want to say?) Has always been much more violent/uncaring of consequences then previous groups. I’ve watch it unfold day after day, I gave up calling even because it never mattered in the end. Before the porta potty though there would be a week  or so of peace after things fully blew up, not anymore.

    • 1994 September 16, 2020 (9:40 pm)

      There has been a tent at Roxhill park, by the bus parking zone, since last winter. When they mow the park, they mow around the tent…..no one from the city seems to be concerned about people camping in public parks. There have also been several trucks FULL of GARBAGE parked there for months as well. Those trucks full of garbage attract rodents….again, nothing seems to happen and the tent and trucks full of garbage remain for months. Once the city decides it is harmful to take action with these behaviors the rest of us have to suffer.

  • DownTheWay September 16, 2020 (7:57 pm)

    I recently changed my pharmacy from Bartell’s at Jefferson Square for this reason.  There have always been homeless in the Junction, but the ones I’ve talked to or bought food for over the years seemed to be genuinely down on their luck or suffered from mental illness.  There is a group now that are obviously not just unfortunate people down on their luck.  I’ve lived in a lot of big cities with neighborhoods way worse than anything you’ll see in Seattle and I’m not much of a pearl clutcher, but quite a few of these people seem dangerous and I’m pretty much avoiding that part of the Junction now.  I really feel like no one in this city is in charge of anything.  The mayor and city council range from photo op politicians to virtue signalling vacillaters to let-it-burn activists, and I think things are just going to happen however they happen as long as this crew is in charge.

  • Born and raised September 16, 2020 (8:01 pm)

    Bring back Arnie Aubol’s Mobile Gas Station that used to do business on this corner.  The most honest man around then.

  • 11epees... September 16, 2020 (8:03 pm)

    I just left a kind voice message of concern on TomVB’s number.  I love this park and the it’s communal charm. But, I find it difficult to enjoy the park with the onslaught of those who have been recently causing unsafe havoc for anyone who wants to enjoy its surrounds.

  • Comments from inside cozy homes w/ bathrooms September 16, 2020 (8:14 pm)

    You saw A TENT???!!! How gross and frightening.

    • flimflam September 16, 2020 (8:56 pm)

      not what parks are intended for, sorry.

      • Comments from inside cozy homes w/ bathrooms September 16, 2020 (9:14 pm)

        Okay, why don’t you go tell this person who has no other option tonight but to sleep in a tent in a park, that they need to leave because it’s not intended for their current usage, and that it bothers you.

        • M September 16, 2020 (10:16 pm)

          Is Camp Second Chance not an option? 

          • WSB September 16, 2020 (10:17 pm)

            As I mentioned upthread, it’s full.

    • 11epees September 16, 2020 (9:27 pm)

      Yes!  Sheeesh, I saw that tent this morning!  A lot of tents could be erected, anywhere.  Trouble is on the way if we don’t speak up.  These park “peeps” don’t want to assume the rules/accountability at various shelters, encampments, etc., thus find a nook wherever they can. 

      • Comments from inside... September 16, 2020 (10:01 pm)

        ‘These park “peeps” don’t want to assume the rules/accountability at various shelters, encampments, etc., thus find a nook wherever they can’

        This is an assumption and generalization that I don’t believe is fair. If you lost your housing, do you think you would rather sleep in a tent in a West Seattle park, or in a shelter with many other homeless people, with strangers of a whole spectrum of issues in beds next to you. Where might you feel safer? 

        Maybe some of these folks are terrified of having to live in a shelter and are trying to get by another way until they can figure out their situation.

        • 11epees September 17, 2020 (12:09 am)

          Ok, ok, well, I do agree with you to a certain point…  Truth be told, I yearn and cry for those who cannot fend nor speak for themselves.  Assumption?  Generalization?  As you please.  I hope that our voices will heard to address the issues of Junction Plaza Park.  This being said, yes, I do know what it’s like at the lowest of lows, losing everything, having the deepest of depressive lows, not knowing what the hell is going on around me, escaping the past only to be stalked, violated while seeking safety to save myself with my word –  interrogated to the nth degree, not being believed, no one understanding, alone, the harsh freezing encampment rains, the unknown, crawling for hope, losing all faith,,, hard shelter crowded church floors, scared, but finally giving up to resorting to trusting a caring someone who saw and guided me to the beginning of a better place to where I am now.  

        • 11epees September 17, 2020 (12:24 am)

          @Comments… Ok, ok, well, I do agree with you to a certain point…  Truth be told, I yearn and cry for those who cannot fend nor speak for themselves.  Assumption?  Generalization?  As you please.  I hope that our voices will be heard to address the issues of Junction Plaza Park.  This being said, yes, I do know what it’s like to be at the lowest of lows, losing everything, having the deepest of depressive lows, not knowing what the hell is going on around me, escaping the past only to be stalked, violated while seeking safety to save myself with my word –  interrogated to the nth degree, not being believed, no one understanding, alone, the harsh freezing encampment rains, the unknown, crawling for hope, losing all faith,,, church shelter crowded hard floors, scared, but finally giving up to resorting to trusting a caring someone who saw and guided me to the beginning of a better place to where I am now.  

          • Comments from inside... September 17, 2020 (5:36 pm)

            Thanks so much for sharing, that sounds like a truly hard experience. I’m glad you are in a better place now, and that you had a caring someone to help along the way.

          • 11epees September 17, 2020 (10:19 pm)

            Thank you.  It was a long, tiring, and arduous process to get to where I am now.  Though, oddly enough, rewarding at the same time.  

  • vee September 16, 2020 (8:23 pm)

    is there a way we can get  a petition going to remove toilet station and maybe install bright overhead lights to shine in park when it is dark? The silent  majority need to take our streets and community back to be safe and for the businesses.  Teresa and Tamara  and lisa and rest of city council are ineffective and useless- sitting on their  big salaries, and Dow  for not wanting jails, laws need to be enforced  and upheld

    • Comments from inside cozy homes w/ bathrooms September 16, 2020 (9:00 pm)

      I wonder how safe those community members who have to sleep in tents feel. Probably less safe than those inside homes.

      Maybe it feels safer to set up a tent there in the park, than it would in other areas.  

      Maybe they would really appreciate some kindness and help. 

      Maybe instead of shining a bright light on them at night, you could stop by in daylight and meet them and ask if they need anything. 

      And if they seem really troubled or in need of services, figure out who to call to send some help their way. There are a number of non profits who work with the homeless.

      • M September 16, 2020 (10:18 pm)

        100% agree with you. However, if services are offered and not accepted then what? 

        • Comments from inside... September 17, 2020 (12:22 am)

          Maybe that’s telling/important information, for improving services and systems to help these folks. Is what is being offered what people actually need, what will really help?

          Perhaps some of the people with the issues have the answers, and we should ask them- what do you really need, how can we help? Not all will be functional or conscious enough regarding their needs, but many are.

          There is also a lack of resources, services, options, and opportunities for these people… I would think more compassionate outreach work would be helpful. And more safe housing options, like tiny house and LIH communities.

          Also, the way these folks are treated in society probably doesn’t help. More kindness and embracement from the greater community could be transformative, for encouraging struggling folks to keep fighting, to recover their dignity and lives and place in the community.

          These people are continually metaphorically kicked while already down, when what they need is to be lifted up, and cared for in some way.

          As long as society continues to look at these folks who are suffering as less than or as a problem, instead of as fellow humans who are in need of compassion and respect and care, they will likely continue to suffer and have mental health issues.

          I have to believe we can do better.

          • beekery September 17, 2020 (10:10 am)

            @Comments, I laud your compassion. It is far too easy for general society to despise the transient community than it is to offer kindness and support. And constantly hearing, “what if they refuse help?” is a great way to distance oneself from seeking answers that may contribute to a beneficial outcome. I feel ashamed that one of the “solutions” seems to be removing the public toilets. Anyone knows it feels undignified to use one of them, but imagine that it is your only option for relieving yourself constantly? Again, I appreciate your compassion and wish we could band together as a community to support those who really need it. After all, so many folks call upon the adage, think of the children!! without realizing how valuable a lesson it is to learn altruism, humanity and forward-thinking. This is a great time for clever solutions, not public shaming. xx 

          • Comments... September 17, 2020 (6:07 pm)

            @beekery, I appreciate your comments and compassion too, thank you! 

            I wholeheartedly agree with you. 

            Regarding your point about people distancing themselves… Yes, it’s easier for people to try to distance and push issues away.  When it’s not such a visible, close, issue, then people don’t have to face the realities of it, or look at how they might be contributing to these issues, or feel any personal responsibility to try and help in any way.

          • wscommuter September 17, 2020 (10:49 am)

            I support compassion … paying more of my taxes for shelter, food,  job training, and most especially meaningful substance abuse and mental health treatment.  Clearly we need more of all these things.  I donate my money for helping these folks and donate my time in service at downtown shelters.  So I can appreciate your point.  But that doesn’t mean that we have to accept turning our parks and streets over to the overt drug/alcohol use and the crime around it.  This park is no longer safe or usable for folks – you can’t let your kids play there for fear of human waste, needles, broken glass (yes, I walked through there yesterday to see for myself and these are the things I saw).  One can be compassionate and still recognize that this is an unacceptable situation that has to be stopped.  

      • Wsres September 16, 2020 (10:37 pm)

        U fortunately most of the people that are homeless refuse services.

  • Sue H September 16, 2020 (8:27 pm)

    I lived in the Junction for many years, and I started to feel less and less safe as the years went on. I loved the convenience of transit and the stores and restaurants, but it got to the point where I didn’t want to be out alone at night anymore – especially after one night when I was walking down Alaska, across the street from the QFC, and a group of people were beating the sh-t out of someone else and I had to race walk with a cane to get out of there before someone saw me and decided to involve me in whatever was going on. I used to sit in my apartment at night and hear screaming in the distance of people who were obviously drunk or deranged. I do not miss that at all.

  • Anne September 16, 2020 (8:30 pm)

    This park used to be a cute little place and I hope we’re able to do the Christmas tree lighting this year. I think we just need to give these homeless people living at this site somewhere else to go. Local companies like LIHI (https://lihi.org/) and Pallet (http://www.palletshelter.com) builds little cabins not sure if they could build a bunch somewhere. Where’s all the money going that Seattle set aside For homelessness thanks to Amazon and Microsoft??

    • WSB September 16, 2020 (8:36 pm)

      They have been “build(ing) a bunch somewhere.” West Seattle volunteers, in fact, build tiny houses on the city land that’s the site of West Seattle’s only city-sanctioned tiny-house encampment, Camp Second Chance, which in fact is operated by LIHI. We report updates on it every month when the Community Advisory Committee meets. But it’s full – usually more than 50 people there. The city changed the law to allow more tiny-house encampments but to my knowledge, hasn’t opened many new ones yet. – TR

  • Keepitclean September 16, 2020 (8:39 pm)

    I saw a man peeing on the easy street painting by the bus stop not that long ago (after portapotty set up across the street from sign and in the park a block from there). Then I saw that same man riding around in the electric cart at QFC eating ice cream bars he hadn’t paid for yet (and maybe not at all). Even with easy to access bathrooms they are still flashing their junk for everyone to see. It’s gross! I have no issue with the tent cities I pass on my bike ride down town, as they aren’t in anyone’s way, but the park by QFC needs cleaning up and consistent patrols to tell transient people move along somewhere else.  It’s just not safe for women and children to be in that area with the constant issues.

    • Comments from inside cozy homes w/ bathrooms September 16, 2020 (9:26 pm)

      News flash, plenty of men who are not homeless pee outside, flash their junk, and commit a variety of crimes.  

      I saw a regular guy with his young daughter in tow, walk behind a church building and pee on it recently.

      I know society wants to point a finger somewhere, and it’s easy to point it at those who are most different from you, but these issues you mention are not ‘homeless people issues,’ they are ‘people issues.’

      • KM September 17, 2020 (7:59 am)

        My thoughts exactly. People assume that the worst behaviors come from our neighbors experiencing homelessness because it’s acceptable to view them as lesser than. Our local TV media does a good job of confirming that bias with how they film and speak of people who are unhoused. Personally, I have no clue if the people who have threatened my safety on various ways are housed or not. I didn’t ask. I’m assuming they are due to their appearance and cars, but that’s just an assumption. But as a woman, I should stop visiting the Junction because apparently it is not safe enough for me! Never leaving my house again unless I am with a strong man!

      • Stemmer September 17, 2020 (10:20 am)

        Spare me.  I most certainly agree that more and diversified social services are needed and am more than willing to help pay for them.  On the other hand this has to be a reciprocal deal. There has be individual responsibility for behavior and limits on what is acceptable.  Violence, threats, public bathroom behavior and a list of others is simply intolerable.  Offer services and expect responsible behavior.  Failure on either side breeds further destruction.

  • Alki resident September 16, 2020 (8:40 pm)

    Get rid of that park. Pave it and allow food trucks to use it regularly. I knew the minute they designed that park that it would bring trouble. 

    • Nw mama September 16, 2020 (9:00 pm)

      Everyone deserves access to toilet facilities. If they weren’t so rare maybe it wouldn’t be such a communal gathering spot for homeless.  But I like your idea.  Bring more people to the park.  Leave the potties, bring food trucks in so the average folks can use the park and make the undesirables less comfortable there. 

    • Comments from inside... September 16, 2020 (9:30 pm)

      Or better yet, how about building a well staffed shelter or low income housing there?  We have many other great parks to enjoy, and plenty of parking lots for food trucks.

    • Roddy September 16, 2020 (10:49 pm)

      @Alkiresident, I’m with you 100%, shut it down! NW mama, toilet facilities = convenient places to shoot up. These people are junkies, drug addicts, criminals. It’s pretty obvious to me. Take off your blinders and wise up!

  • Erithan September 16, 2020 (8:45 pm)

    I’ve been talking to people about this long before it got this bad, including calling in the concerns that it would get worse with the porta potty there. There’s one just down the block already too… I was told it was the mayor’s doing(and parks couldn’t do anything on account), and they would be cleaned daily and they would keep an eye on “issues”. Which seems to not have happened….What I’ve noticed too with police being forced on “emergency calls only” (I was told they couldn’t come out until someone was hurt basically) is the group has gotten more comfortable and larger. To an extent they have perm makeshift shelter behind a bench now and openly do drugs etc with no concern. Never used to be this bad…I watch this daily from where I live right now…

  • Junction Lady September 16, 2020 (9:29 pm)

    Thank you, Lori, for spearheading this constructive approach to a problem that is solvable.  That is, if the leaders choose to make sensible decisions.

  • Paythefee September 16, 2020 (9:30 pm)

    I’m really disappointed that the WSJA’s solution is to “call 911”.  Over and over in this country we have seen the involving the police escalates a problem rather than helping to solve the problem, unless  ‘solving the problem’ means violence perpetrated against Black and brown  people.Until this state gets serious about addressing the fundamental economic inequalities that lead to homelessness, we will continue to see these problems.  You’re right, parks are not the place to pitch tents, but you know what: tents are not meant to be someone’s permanent home either.

    • KM September 17, 2020 (8:04 am)

      Absolutely.

  • M September 16, 2020 (9:41 pm)

    It’s a slippery slope before we become the next Ballard. 

    • flimflam September 16, 2020 (10:05 pm)

      what do you mean? ballard has always been a mess – ask anyone that has moved there in the last 3 years!

      • M September 16, 2020 (10:23 pm)

        I grew up in Ballard. Not true. It used to be a wonderful place. Much like West Seattle now. I prefer to not follow that path. It IS ok to have some area of the city left that is safe for families. 

        • flimflam September 17, 2020 (8:25 am)

          M, i was being sarcastic. i think the city is “lucky” to have so many recent transplants that actually do think its always been this way here in Seattle.

      • Humor, people September 17, 2020 (7:38 am)

        I believe Flimflam was using humor/sarcasm to get their point across. As in, it’s ‘always’ been that way, from the prospective of someone who has lived there all of 3 years. I agree, Ballard was awesome and such a great place to live and grow up. Just like West Seattle. I am so happy I got to live, work and raise our family in such a beautiful area.Now I am glad we have moved out of the city. 

  • Dee September 16, 2020 (9:42 pm)

    I think we need to come together as a community and find a solution instead of emailing the City Council  asking them to remove porta potties and transients. We are asking them to remove them and then where do they go; The Admiral District, under the bridge, Delridge, etc., only pushing the problem to another area??? Obviously that is not been working. We are an intelligent, educated, and tight knit community; let’s figure this out!!

    • WSB September 16, 2020 (9:58 pm)

      Since you mention it, we should note there is at least one other city-installed hygiene station in West Seattle, by the Salvation Army center in South Delridge. One was installed at Westcrest Park in Highland Park but I don’t know if it’s still there – it isn’t showing on the city’s map.

  • Whitelady September 16, 2020 (9:51 pm)

    Please don’t call 911 when people are having mental health issues. It might get them killed. If you truly want to help, act to change the system. 

    • flimflam September 16, 2020 (10:04 pm)

      ok. …and if they are commiting crimes or threatening people, then what? write a letter to my congressperson?

    • Seabruce September 16, 2020 (11:16 pm)

      The other day a man was in the park yelling at passersby, so not wanting to call the police, I thought 211 might be able to help, but when I finally got they to them they told me to call 911, which I didn’t because I was no longer in the junction.With empty hotel rooms and restaurants going out of business could Lisa Herbold/Joe McDermott look at getting the city/county to rent or use eminent domain to buy some and convert then into affordable housing/commune?

  • TJ September 16, 2020 (10:28 pm)

    Change exactly what Whitelady? Seeking “change” sounds great, but what does that mean? Forced involuntary mental care? Forced drug treatment? Free housing? My understanding is mental health funding was cut in the late 1980’s, so there has been plenty of time to address that. Who will pay for it? Lots of people wanting lots of money for lots of things right now, and there isn’t enough money to pay for it all. I don’t think people want these people arrested or rousted out of there for being homeless, or for having mental issues, or for substance abuse, but for breaking laws. Held to the same standard as those being asked to pay for this stuff 

    • AMA September 17, 2020 (11:19 am)

      I agree.  There is a wide spectrum of types of homeless people.  Some are decent, law abiding people who have fallen on hard  times. At the other end of the spectrum are addicts and criminals  who will never change no matter who helps them and are a danger to everyone else.We have to figure out a way to help people who want and need help at the same time we control the  bad ones. I get the feeling, when walking past the park, that the homeless there tend toward the latter end of the spectrum.

  • Decriminalize homelessness September 16, 2020 (10:49 pm)

    Have we considered involving folks that are trained to deescalate situations with people experiencing mental health and substance abuse problems instead of calling 911? How many stories do we have to read about people getting killed by the police when they respond to these situations? People experiencing homelessness exist and deserve to be treated with dignity and care. And thanks to COVID, systemic racism and an underfunded social service system, more people will be homeless in the coming year.  How many people are one paycheck or one medical crisis away from homelessness? I agree our city needs to do more. But so do each of us. And not because we just want our privileged lives to go back to normal and to be able to light a damn Christmas tree. We need to do better and more so that people can get the help they need/want. Whether you like it or not, these folks are our neighbors and they deserve to have their most basic needs met – to be able to sleep in a safe space, bathroom access and food to eat. Radical empathy is about seeing someone’s pain and also recognizing how you’ve contributed to their pain and suffering. And doing something about it. Sending folks to jail or removing the hygiene station isn’t humane and it’s not going to fix the problem. 

    • Anne September 17, 2020 (6:21 am)

      So-WHITELADY & DECRIMINALIZE HOMELESSNESS-HOW?- how do you suggest going about that?  It’s not enough to say -call a mental health professional -instead of police-WHO do you call-do you have a number?  What system is in place that actually gives you that option? Isn’t this part of the change we want to see in community policing-where either a mental health professional, social worker, or drug councilor is part of -or is -a response team? Where are city /state governments plans for that -I mean specific plans -not just “ we’ll  defund police & use that $$’” where are those conversations-who will  be hired to be responders, what will their qualifications be, how many will be needed?  We’re not there yet – not by a long shot -in the meantime -if I’m walking by that park – or anywhere & someone pulls out a knife – or acts aggressively towards me, or if I see someone damaging buildings or property- I’m calling 911. If you are in that situation & have a different reaction/solution – by all means try it. 

    • J. Lardizabal September 17, 2020 (6:43 am)

      I hope everybody who is writing and calling city officials starts from this place of compassion.

    • JM September 17, 2020 (7:44 am)

      The group that have been setting up home in the junction these past months are the aggressive, violent homeless who do not want any type of assistance and without a doubt have either substance abuse issues, mental health issues or both. AND I in fact know of at least two of the regulars that frequent this park and the junction have for years turned down any type assistance choosing to continue to live on the street and have been reported to the police for aggressive acts towards both people and businesses. I empathize with those who have lost their housing and are trying to find a safe place to sleep each night. THIS group currently occupying the junction park is not that segment so anyone suggesting we be empathetic towards them get off your high horse and you try to walk by there on a regular basis just to perform your daily tasks such as grocery shopping only to be literally chased onto busy Alaska street as they come towards you drugged/drunk out of their minds not wearing masks, screaming profanities, trying to grab at you. I am fed up with what has happened to this park where some of our local seniors used to be able to sit and gather and socialize and parents with children could let their kids run around. Now it is essentially a place to gather, get wasted, fight and harass anyone not part of this group as they try to peacefully walk by. Enough is enough we need our neighborhood park back. I have and will continue to contact 911, any and all elected officials connected to WS to get the park back to what the intended use was AND that is public green space for ALL community members not this group of by choice homeless addicts! 

      • vee September 17, 2020 (4:58 pm)

        AGREE- JM

      • Comments... September 17, 2020 (7:03 pm)

        From what people are describing here, it sure sounds like this appears to be a more challenging group for the community to embrace and help.

        However, I’m curious, have any of you smiled their way, or reached out with some genuine kindness in passing? I wonder how that would go…

        I’m going to try to visit this group and bring them an offering of kindness, instead of the bad looks and interactions they probably get regularly. Maybe some bottled water, considering they are out in this smoky air, or something to eat, and see how it goes, see if they chase me into the street. Will try to share here how it goes.

    • Hannah Gordon September 17, 2020 (8:17 am)

      Yes, homeless people deserve to be treated with the dignity and care that they’re incapable of showing themselves. But first responders also deserve dignity and to go home to their families at the end of their shifts.  And what about dignity and care for the other citizens who deserve to use public spaces without fear or death or injury. That ‘privilege’ word that goes thrown around so easily does not take account that many of those people have worked very hard, to earn an education, to overcome hardships of their own – including mental illness and addiction – to raise families and maintain households.  It seems an angry distortion to claim that people are privileged just because they don’t want to step over piles of human excrement and be threatened with knives simply for wanting to sit in the park. 

      • Loved WS September 17, 2020 (11:43 pm)

        THANK YOU for so perfectly saying what I have been trying to put into words to respond on the chaos at Junction Park!!  Very well said.

    • Erithan September 17, 2020 (10:59 am)

      The group currently in the park gets very violent and has refused services(I’ve witnessed this over and over). There is also a porta potty by the bus stops already. They used to be allowed to use the QFC bathroom, but they had to stop letting them because they would trash it or they set it on fire once too…People who live right here and are attacked or simply witness the problems day after day(I have recordings of the violence I’ve kept if police need it) aren’t trying to get rid of people “in need” just for a tree lightning etc. We’re trying to get the space to be safe again for -everyone-. The fighting and doing drugs in the open, chasing people away from the park, attacking people, and stealing/vandalizing nearby business (and residences) is -not- ok. There needs to be accountability. I’ve also watched the police very calmly respond to even the worst fights as a note too. They don’t ever do more then talk usually, the only violence I usually witness is form the current park crowd…

  • Lola September 17, 2020 (7:53 am)

    Is anybody using the Hotels that Dow bought for Covid?  Have not heard anything about them in awhile or if they are being utilized.  Maybe we could put them up there till they figure out what else to do.  They would have a room with beds and not be out in the cold weather when it starts here soon.  They were able to buy these hotels really fast when Covid started. 

  • savoirfaire September 17, 2020 (8:35 am)

    Am I the only who was very put off by the person who, in their communication with the WSJA quoted above, made a distinction between “transients” and “innocent people”?I’m also curious as to whether the WSJA is working with the SW Precinct’s Community Policing Team? “Community Police Team Officers focus on long-term and chronic problems
    in specific neighborhoods – problems that are often outside the bounds
    of regular patrol work.  It is their job to understand the ongoing
    problems and concerns of neighbors and businesses.” This seems like exactly the type of thing they’re intended to help address.

    • WSB September 17, 2020 (10:51 am)

      CPT officers are being redeployed to patrol per Interim Chief Diaz’s recent announcement (and the precinct’s operations lt. confirmed in a community meeting we recently covered that the edict was expected to affect precincts).

  • Mark Friedman September 17, 2020 (9:15 am)

    Hey, I’ve got a genius-level idea: maybe try voting for different people than those who have created this mess. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk.

  • Mike A September 17, 2020 (9:25 am)

    Get rid of the park, problem solved..

  • CC September 17, 2020 (11:09 am)

    The amount of people in these comments using the phrase “a homeless” to refer to homeless people is staggering. 

    • CMT September 17, 2020 (12:26 pm)

      I don’t see anyone saying “a homeless.”  I think you mean using the phrase “the homeless” instead of “homeless people” and I assume you believe that this is somehow dehumanizing homeless people.  I really think it’s distinction without a difference as “the homeless” clearly refers to “homeless people,” like “the sick and the suffering” can be used to described “the sick and the suffering people.”  People is implied.I do agree that each homeless person is an individual and that it is inappropriate to simply lump all homeless people together into one group for all purposes.  Different situations call for different distinctions.  There are homeless persons that are violent and refuse assistance, homeless persons that are nonviolent and refuse assistance, homeless persons that are violent or nonviolent that would accept assistance is offered, homeless persons with substance abuse issues and no underlying mental issues; Homeless persons that are trying to keep a family intact, etc., etc.It appears from the anecdotal evidence that for the context of this post, the overwhelming issue is primarily violent or destructive homeless persons with substance abuse and/or mental conditions that are either unwilling to accept help or have not been offered help.  Unless someone has a recommendation of whom to call when facing a homeless person meeting this description, calling 911 definitely seems like the appropriate action.Also, for the most part, I see a lot of empathy for the homeless in this thread, balanced with the basic need to keep the community safe for all persons, homeless or not homeless.

  • WS Taxpayer September 17, 2020 (12:21 pm)

    Here’s an Idea – Lets get the junction association to schedule a TON of events in this space – Pop up concerts, dance recitals, food trucks, art fairs, political rally’s, PTA meetings, Senior bocce ball tournaments, Chess matches…literally anything.  like the old saying goes, an idle mind is the devil’s playground.  If you want the bad out – fill it with good.  I’d be happy to spend a few hours there for the right reasons…bottom line – we can’t let those who have no interest in participating in society control the narrative of the lives of the silent majority.  #takebacktheparks

  • montana September 17, 2020 (12:34 pm)

    @ cc Ok, how about “Unhoused”.

    • CMT September 18, 2020 (7:45 am)

      As a follow on – I do hear people more and more using the term “unhoused” as though it is preferable to “homeless.”  Can someone explain why it is different/better?  Thanks!

  • M September 17, 2020 (12:51 pm)

    Last nights murder at Cal Anderson park is a good reminder of why these types of potentially dangerous environments shouldn’t be tolerated. I’d prefer the situation be addressed prior to violence in our community. 

  • montanapup September 17, 2020 (12:52 pm)

    @ ccOk. How about “unhoused” or “tented” or “sheltered”?

  • Wendell September 17, 2020 (3:14 pm)

    How about redirecting some of Sawant’s legal fees to solving this problem? Seeing we’re paying for it.

  • Melissa A September 17, 2020 (3:28 pm)

    Thank you for posting the info to reach out to the Human Services department. By sending an email, I hope this will help with directing more human service counselors this way.  It seems like non-profit groups can only do so much to help, although I will continue to support the non-profits trying to help with this sort of outreach. Transitional Resources seems to be a good one. 

  • Born here, never leaving September 18, 2020 (7:11 am)

    The park should be closed if the city can’t maintain it as a safe public space. Enabling people that have no respect for the law or resident’s safety is not the answer. The sanitation station should have never been installed.

  • Donn September 18, 2020 (7:17 am)

    I am unsure the purpose of this park. It is not well used, by a busy street that offers no respite and it is poorly designed and uninviting. 

  • UrbanVillager September 18, 2020 (12:04 pm)

    So. . . .Who thinks the proposed park on 40th Ave SW next to Sound & Fog is going to work out any better?

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