FOLLOWUP: Community meeting Tuesday to seek solutions to Junction Plaza Park problems

(WSB photo, September)

Three weeks ago, we reported on the West Seattle Junction Association‘s plea to the city regarding escalating concerns at Junction Plaza Park (42nd/Alaska). Days later, WSJA received a reply from the city (scroll down this page to read it) that noted cleanup crews and outreach services but did not address public-safety concerns. So next Tuesday (October 13th), at 2 pm, WSJA takes the next step, with a community meeting (online) including city participants. You are invited to watch and/or participate. Panelists confirmed so far include Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Sina Ebinger, Precinct Liaison (City Attorney’s Office) Joe Everett, and Aaron Burkhalter, project manager with LEAD, which will be expanding into parts of West Seattle including The Junction. Connection information is on the WSJA’s webpage about the ongoing park problems.

88 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Community meeting Tuesday to seek solutions to Junction Plaza Park problems"

  • James Koutsky October 8, 2020 (3:45 pm)

     Where is this meeting taking place?Thank you.

    • WSB October 8, 2020 (4:23 pm)


  • Plf October 8, 2020 (3:57 pm)

    Has Lisa been the invited, she should go on the record how to solve this escalating problem

    • vee October 8, 2020 (5:20 pm)

      I’ve emailed her several times regarding this and she doesnt care- her response was basically it was ok for them to be there 

      • Anonymous Coward October 9, 2020 (7:31 am)

        I’ve heard she’s far more responsive if you and a group of your friends show up at her house for a discussion at about 10p…

  • m October 8, 2020 (4:06 pm)

    What’s the deal with that bland and kind of ugly building directly behind the park? I’d love to see them put in a living wall on that soviet era looking windowless wall. It would be a beautiful visual vertical expansion of the park. It would also convert local CO2 into earth loving oxygen. Just a thought. 

    • shotinthefoot October 9, 2020 (9:18 am)

      @ M: that is such a great idea! Get on it, Junction Assoc. and SHA! 

    • Erithan October 9, 2020 (11:54 am)

      If you mean the one the sculptures against it’s one of the only low income housing buildings in West Seattle. It’s terrible as they’re super abusive to those of us living there, but we don’t have any other options. 😔 

  • Comments from inside cozy homes October 8, 2020 (4:42 pm)

    I wanted to follow up and share, that as I said I would on the previous blog post, I visited the group at the park and spent time talking with them. 

    I can share that they were welcoming, open to my friendliness and wanting to talk and understand more. I was met with smiles and appreciation when I expressed wanting to be helpful. They gratefully accepted a snack I offered. While I was there for about an hour, I never witnessed anything concerning, and never felt threatened. NO ONE chased me into the road. Some were more shy and others were eager to talk and share.

    The only thing they were up to when I visited was listening to music, talking, and smoking. There was an excess of litter in the park and when I asked about it, they told me the garbage and parks workers don’t come by every day. They had an awareness of community concerns and commented on there being a few bad apples that also visit the park but they aren’t all like that, and unfortunately can’t control these other people.

    I have been considering for a number of years starting a community project and organization that encourages direct community outreach and connections with those who are homeless in our community, and after my visit, am feeling more committed to this. I am looking forward to working on organizing and hopefully sharing more here in the future, and hope others in the community would like to get involved! In the meantime, I’d like to share some ideas for things that may be helpful right now for these folks. I asked for some input and here is some of what was shared.

    Things they could always use:

    Water and juices 

    Blankets, ones that are warm but not too thick or heavy, not big comforters, something easy to wrap up in

    Candles (like simple wax pillar candles, nothing with glass)

    Kaety specifically could regularly use help with getting ATT prepaid cards that can be purchased at places like 7-11

    In addition to this, a couple additional suggestions I have:

    Wool socks

    Dry sack bags (to help keep blankets, socks, candles dry)

    And, if anyone has a large canopy tent that could be set up somewhere in the park, to help provide some shelter, where they can be dry together, that would probably be appreciated. I’m not sure if the city would allow this, but just a thought.

    For those of you bent out of shape about not being able to use this park, please consider that you have access to many other parks around West Seattle and beyond, and at the end of the day, you have a home to return to, and many places to be where you are welcome. This is the only places these folks have right now. Please don’t take it from them. Maybe with kindness we can help them.

    Kaety, a woman I spoke with at length, wanted me to share this thought:

    ’A hand up is not the same as a hand out, and knowing the difference, is true wisdom.’

    I’m not expecting anything, but it would be awesome if some WSB readers wanted to help and were willing to get some things on their list and stop by, extend some kindness and generosity, by simply accepting them being there for now, and giving something. Some of them would even appreciate your restaurant leftovers. 

    If you’re willing, I hope you will share here, and if they see this they will know there are some kind people in the community who care.

    • Anne October 8, 2020 (5:56 pm)

      They want tents & candles-ok. They know there’s “ a few bad apples” but nothing they can do about them – so this park is actually a homeless camp- everyone else- just go to a different park. I appreciate & admire your outreach – but there have been some real safety concerns voiced. Hopefully this meeting will address the homeless problem & have resources to find them proper safe places to live.  

    • flimflam October 8, 2020 (6:09 pm)

      They were “welcoming” and didn’t chase you? Pretty low bar set there considering it’s a public park/amenity that isn’t intended to be an encampment.with your line of thinking we won’t have any parks left to use in a few years and that is not ok regardless of how you want to spin it, try to guilt trip/dismiss the neighborhood and their concerns.

      • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (10:22 pm)

        Yes, they were welcoming and didn’t chase me into the road, shout at me, threaten me, or intimidate me in any way, as they had been represented, in a previous post. If you read that post, hopefully it will make more sense.

        And I’m not spinning or guilt tripping. I care about these issues and want to help contribute to more understanding and positive change, and sharing my experience and ideas.

        Also, no, I am not suggesting as a community we allow all parks to become homeless encampments, and that isn’t going to happen. That argument is a slippery slope fallacy.

    • JVP October 8, 2020 (6:44 pm)

      May I ask what your gender, height and weight are? I’m a 6’2” male, 195 lbs, athletic and confident. I’ve never once been harassed near the park or inside the QFC. My wife is a foot shorter than me and slight. She is regularly harassed there when alone, and has had some scary  experiences inside the QFC. Again, always when others are not around. I applaud your compassion. I used to share it, though to be frank, it’s been years.  I want my family to feel safe in this neighborhood that we love. This is our experience. 

      • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (11:07 pm)

        Thanks JVP for asking and sharing.

        I am a woman and of an average size/build. I would be interested to hear more specifics about the harassment your wife experienced, and I’m really sorry to hear she’s had some bad experiences around there.

        But a question for everyone, have you had more bad experiences in the world with people who are homeless or not homeless? To those who have been victims of crimes, how many had homeless people involved? Think about it, and guess what, the majority of criminals, rapists, and jerks out in the world, are not the homeless folks in the park.

        And the drugs they do, are a way they try to cope with their circumstances and complex mental health issues.

        Not saying in your wife’s case this was a factor, but I think one thing we might all take a moment consider, is how these folks are treated and looked at and what they experience on a daily basis. Imagine if you were looked down on and people were suspicious and afraid of you when you just wanted to go in a store and buy a drink with the only $2 you have in your pocket… imagine ladies clutching their purses when you walk by… when maybe it’s unjustified.

        I cannot vouch for every homeless person in WS or anywhere, they are all individuals with different experiences and issues, that are probably more complex than we can imagine. But I don’t think it’s fair or kind to paint them all with the same ugly broad paint stroke.

        Not all homeless individuals are criminals or dangerous.

        Not all criminals and dangerous people are homeless.

        Not all poor people steal.

        Not all rich people give.

        • alki_2008 October 9, 2020 (3:30 pm)

          I would say 20% of negative experiences I’ve experienced have involved homeless people, whether that be verbal harassment, physical interactions, theft, etc.

          Yes, majority of my experiences have been with non-homeless folks. But I’m pretty sure that the populations is less than 20% homeless, so by relative proportion your counter-argument doesn’t hold much water.

          • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (6:43 pm)

            If we are simply looking at population numbers, you have a point. However, based on how dangerous and problematic people seem to perceive homeless folks to be, and the high exposure rate, considering they are out on the street, in the community, every day, with plenty of opportunity to cause issues, why haven’t more people been harmed by these folks?

        • alki_2008 October 9, 2020 (10:57 pm)

          Why haven’t more people been harmed may be because many people actively avoid interacting with homeless. The exposure you speak of may not be as prevalent as you suspect.

          If you want to help. Then maybe most effective would be to learn about the various services available to provide housing and assistance, and then help connect the homeless (like Kaety) to the services that meet their needs. Or help them reconnect with family or friends that can help them. Or as others have mentioned you could host them on your property. Not all of them, but maybe the ones that get comfortable with you.  But just giving them handouts isn’t really enough. It’s not going to get them out of their situation. It’s not going to help them get better.  It’s just sustaining and reinforcing their current situation.

    • vee October 8, 2020 (6:57 pm)

      why dont you talk to employers at qfc who have been threatened assaulted  and products stolen often- It is not safe- we spend $ galore on homelessness – these are drug addicts doing illegal at QFC?   and security in store

      • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (11:21 pm)

        Yes, those are problems, but not necessarily related to all the regular folks staying in the park.

        Certainly there should be intervention in those instances and appropriate consequences and help coordinated.

        These kinds of issues will continue to happen all over, not just near this park, until as a society and community we do more to help people and to prevent these issues.

    • From behind their cozy computer. October 8, 2020 (6:58 pm)

      I don’t believe you because I walk by this park several times a day, everyday. This sounds like a completely made up account of most of the people there. Are there some nice people there down on their luck. Probably. But I see the majority of them everyday trying to instigate with people just walking by. I see and hear fights there almost every single day. So I don’t know if you maybe had a pleasant daydream while hitting the bong. But the park you are describing is not the park I know and see everyday. 

      • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (11:31 pm)

        Believe what you want, but it’s not made up. I’ve visited twice now, without issue.

        I’m just sharing my experience, I can’t speak to others experience, or vouch for every person there in the park.

        Perhaps there are others passing through who are more problematic, or when under the influence, some of their behavior is worse at times.

        But so far, I’ve had no issues, and actually have had some moments of connection and more understanding in sharing, that I value and appreciate.

        • alki_2008 October 9, 2020 (3:31 pm)

          Curious. What time of day were your visits?  Morning, afternoon, general timeframe?

    • Mediocre October 8, 2020 (7:30 pm)

      I have some tents and cots I would love to donate. Then we just need to get some food delivered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Of course then we need more garbage pickup and their porta potty might fill up faster.  Could we move this to a different park so it doesn’t impact the businesses and residents in the junction? Maybe somewhere indoors, like at one of the shelters?  

      • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (11:45 pm)

        Maybe we do need more shelters, and specifically in WS.

        But maybe also there are other ways we can help take care of these folks in our community.

        Rather than simply seeing them as different and a problem, we could see them as fellow humans who are suffering. We can try to be better at embracing these people where they are at and offering more understanding, kindness, and care. What if thats what they need most before anything else?

        Perhaps a kind of paradigm shift in society towards homelessness is needed, and could be more helpful than current attitudes and systems, that clearly in many ways is failing.

      • anoninstl October 9, 2020 (10:22 am)

        no park should be for camping unless designated as a campsite. We pay taxes to be able to use our public lands and parks.

    • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (7:32 pm)

      … Food is also on the list of needs, of course.

      Also, to whoever lives in the apartment building above QFC, who has been shining laser lights in their eyes at night, please stop, this does nothing to help the situation.

      And we wonder why traumatized homeless folks become agitated…

      • JVP October 9, 2020 (9:34 am)

        We live walking distance from there, so it’s not like we’ve just been by a handful of times. More like dozens to hundreds of times. My wife won’t go to the QFC, and won’t walk past that park alone any more. That’s not OK. I’ll be the first one to donate to addiction treatment and mental health treatment. I’m done with our enabling of bad bahaviour, untreated mental issues, and addiction. We’ve become a city of enablers, which actively hurts these people, and hurts everyone they come in contact with. I’ve seen addiction first hand, so trust me on this.  Just for the record, I’m not on the right side of the political spectrum.

        • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (10:34 am)

          These folks are in need of acceptance, understanding, kindness, and compassion along with other obvious needs such as, food, water, and warmth.

          Maybe giving them what they need is a starting place of help, not ‘enabling.’

        • s October 9, 2020 (10:39 am)

          This sounds like a sample size issue. Original poster says she’s been by “twice.” She also brought snacks, so of course they’re more likely to be nice to her. The people she talked to were also self-selected, as some chose to not talk with her. So OP is 1) one person, 2) who visited twice, 3) who brought snacks, and 4) who only talked to those who wanted to talk with her. Contrast that to all the other people who pass by there regularly and are relating their issues. I don’t think they’re making it up. I personally pass by there regularly and agree with most posters that the park is a serious safety issue that needs to be dealt with, notwithstanding OP’s limited personal experiences.

          • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (10:58 am)

            To clarify, these aren’t my first and only experiences reaching out to homeless folks to try to connect, understand, and help. I have had numerous encounters and experiences, spread over the years, and not once when I’ve approached a homeless person from a genuine and kind place have I had a bad experience.

            As I shared in my first comment here, I have been considering for a number of years starting a community project and organization that encourages direct community outreach and connections with those who are homeless in our community, and that inspiration came from these experiences.

            I hear your skepticism, and it is understandable. I also can’t guarantee these efforts will always go well for everyone all of the time. You might catch someone at not the best time, so make sure you feel like it’s the right moment.

            But, I see a need and an opportunity for change, I believe we can do better, and I want to try to help.

    • Timothy October 9, 2020 (10:26 am)

      DONT give them supplies for occupying the park! This is enabling and encourages the problem! As a neighbor I would be furious if some well-meaning person started helping them make our park their new home. The city has resources available and those resources are NOT our park. I find this behavior quite infuriating.

      • s October 9, 2020 (11:56 am)

        OP-Right, I wasn’t saying these were your only experiences with homeless people. My comment that “Original poster says she’s been by twice” was just referring to your statement: “I’ve visited twice now.” Not that two visits are worthless…they are data points. But you need to consider your two data points in the context of all the other data points being shared here, as well as my comments about how your data may be biased by how you approached them. You should value your data points but should also value the data points (experiences) of others here.

        • Comments... October 9, 2020 (1:37 pm)

          ‘…how your data may be biased by how you approached them’…

          Yes, this is a factor, and it’s one of the things I’m trying to help bring awareness to!

          Also, for those who are seeing things quite differently…

          I am encouraging that more people take small opportunities to try to connect and increase their understanding of homeless folks and the issues around this community. 

          Because in addition to everything I’ve shared, how can we help solve any issues without first trying to really understanding them?

          And keep in mind people, ’it’s not only what you look at, it’s what/how you see it.’ 

          (might be getting the quote wrong but the point is there)

          • s October 10, 2020 (6:54 am)

            “It’s how you see it”? So how should we “see it” when they throw eggs at four year olds…they’re trying to share food? Or when they all lay down on the benches so nobody else can sit there…maybe they just want to snuggle? Or when I walked by there with my two young children recently and two people were screaming F-bombs at each other…any suggestions? You talk about approaching them differently…I can’t give them donuts and promise them gift cards every time I want to walk by that park to get groceries or get home.

      • Erithan October 9, 2020 (12:03 pm)

        Agreed, I live in the building there, the porta potty alone has made things worse. They may act nice on occasion, but the drunken/meth high rants happen every night, sometimes day too. I’ve personally watched the violence escalate as more and more move in. I have to deal with breathing problems from the smoking in large groups they do (non smoking park) among other things. They’ve all also been offered services and help and refused every time. They do not need more enabling…. they are taking advantage and playing nice to those who aren’t there all the time and don’t see what they actually do or have to experience it constantly.

        • alki_2008 October 9, 2020 (3:38 pm)

          I wonder if it’s legal for someone that has a vantage point over the park, like if they live in a nearby building, to put a webcam that shows the park and make it publicly accessible online. I’m thinking it wouldn’t be an invasion of privacy issue because filming a public space is okay?  If that happened more often, then maybe the general public could get a better idea of what happens at parks that have encampments. Instead of basing their opinions on limited exposure. Hhmmm. I suspect the ACLU would have a field day with that though.

  • NW October 8, 2020 (5:02 pm)

    Spoke with a person I know and see occasionally in the area lives across the street in an apartment recently moved due to the issues at the park and the recent damage to QFC store 

  • TJ October 8, 2020 (5:06 pm)

    It doesn’t need to be this hard to get cleaned up. The city has made it complicated to the point that community groups need to have meetings. It’s a tiny park. Just clear them out and make it uncomfortable to come back. Not hard 

    • 1994 October 8, 2020 (8:27 pm)

      I agree with TJ. This little park is for EVERYONE and NOT designed for camping by anyone. Unbelievable the city allows this to happen. 

  • Question Authority October 8, 2020 (5:20 pm)

    The LEAD program is voluntary participation so don’t think that’s cure all, plus the Council axed the Navigation Team so prepare for no enforcement or improvement anytime soon.

  • Craig October 8, 2020 (5:33 pm)

    Drove past this park last week and watched a man without a shirt kick over the hand washing station and then punch the portable bathroom a few times, before wandering around and yelling. There’s no way I, as a tax payer, would spend time in that park (especially with my kids) with all the negative things I’ve seen there. It taints the entire Junction. I’d even prefer a parking lot to what’s there now if this level of dangerous is going to be the new normal. 

    • Taxed October 9, 2020 (8:22 am)

      Haven’t we all seen drunk fraternity guys behave similarly or worse?

  • Beloved October 8, 2020 (5:52 pm)

    These people who are deciding to loiter and basically live at the park, drugged out their minds randomly shouting at people even attempting to assault; is a very big issue. Than at night they car prowl and house prowl to see what they can get their hands on. It’s time to resolve these problems besides sweeping it under the rug as if it is okay. 

    • Comments from inside... October 8, 2020 (11:56 pm)

      Do you have evidence that these people at the park have been prowling cars and houses?

      WSB regularly reports on car and other thefts, sometimes including video footage, and guess what, it appears these are often other neighbors, not the folks in the park.

      • oerthehill October 9, 2020 (5:40 am)

        There are already programs that offer assistance such as LEAD, etc…often times these people know where to get help, but are reluctant to seek it out for many reasons. For those concerned about the more mellow friendly park dwellers it’s an admirable thought to want to help, but the problem lies in the fringe characters that prey on and harrass the more vulnerable ones where the troubles come, and crime. I’d like to discourage people from dropping off supplies thinking they are helping. You will see an issue rise like flames all at the price of compassion. I hate to admit it, but just as when I worked with at risk teens, setting up programs for the less fortunate, it was always ruined by gangsters and criminals, every time. The best place to donate is directly to the programs that provide assistance, not dumped in the park!

  • wscommuter October 8, 2020 (6:03 pm)

    I support funding services for  folks on hard time, including securing safe housing, feeding them, health care and drug treatment, mental health services … all of it.  Raise my taxes and I will willingly pay for this.  I donate to organizations who do this difficult work and volunteer in Pioneer Square working with folks on hard times.   But I am adamantly opposed to accepting camping/tents in this park – that is not what this space is for.  We cannot accept that this park becomes a homeless encampment or some version of permanence for homeless populations.   While I appreciate the sentiments expressed above about specific actions to help folks, my own anecdotal observations when I am in the Junction and walk by this park 2-3 times a week is that I see conditions and behavior that makes it impossible for families to use.  The “bad apples” referred to by “Comments from Inside …” above are regulars.  So let’s deal in truth/reality about this difficult situation.  

    • Wsres October 9, 2020 (6:21 am)

      I completely agree. Thank you for this comment.

    • anoninstl October 9, 2020 (10:20 am)

      Completely agree also.

  • wetone October 8, 2020 (8:26 pm)

    We drive past this park multiple times every day. In the morning very little is going on except for one or two people sleeping in north west corner. Come 1pm people start gathering, 4pm game on rest of day. Craziness from fighting, yelling, drugs and drinking. Sad times in WS but this is common everywhere within Seattle today and is growing quickly. Until we address mental health issues and holding people accountable for there actions don’t expect things to change. Don’t like what you’re seeing ?    VOTE or vote differently for leadership that will address city and state problems, mental health, accountability.

  • DBurns October 8, 2020 (9:02 pm)

    First, full disclosure: I don’t live in the Junction, but I do shop there for groceries on a very regular basis, and frequent many other businesses on California, and have for well over 20 years. I’m not super tuned in to the issues and potential dangers created by the community staying at the park there. 

    I enjoyed reading the account of time spent at the park by Comments from Inside Cozy Homes, and have made a quick list of things to put in my trunk to drop off the next time I’m there. Easy to do and why wouldn’t you? 

    To the commenters so eager to “Just clear them out and make it uncomfortable to come back” I look forward to hearing all of your suggestions for solving this “issue” at the meeting. We live in the city. Unsheltered people are part of our community. Take a moment now and Google “Hooverville Seattle History” – this community has been here since the 1930’s (a lot longer than some of your homes have been here). Where should “they” go? 

    I know this maybe an unpopular opinion on here but it’s just my perspective: When my kids were young, we had Nickelsville at the bottom of our hill (you can Google that too if needed). I forced them to take a tour, meet the residents and personally take donations on a regular basis. Our hope was to make them see the community as people; not scary, just unsheltered at the moment. I drew a rough but realistic picture of a path of how easy it could be to end up unsheltered if you have no support and few resources. We owned a business and twice hired unsheltered workers, it was challenging in some ways but not more than any other employee – everyone has issues! 

    I think it made an impact. I’m incredibly proud to say that my daughter got her Masters in Social Justice and is on her way to Law School in the Summer of 2021. She is a Case Manager for the LEAD program and works with/for unsheltered people every day. When she talks about how public resources are not set up for chronically homeless people it makes me want to cry. But she is part of the solution and will continue to be, so maybe you too, could figure out even small ways to help. Just think about it. Hope you can all make the meeting, see you there.

    • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (12:13 am)

      Thanks so much for your comment and sharing, and your willingness to reach out and give, with both your words and actions! I hope you also have a good experience, and would be surprised if they were not receptive and appreciative.

      And you should be proud of your daughter, and her good work, that’s awesome!

      I hope many attend the meeting, especially those who would like to be a compassionate advocate and share ideas.

      • Vanessa October 9, 2020 (2:41 am)

        I like the notion of being compassionate and caring for all in our community, but I’ll admit I’m frightened of drunk and drugged people. I drove by the park mid-afternoon recently and someone was stumbling out of the port-a-potty and the benches were all taken. The vibe is rough. I would not feel comfortable nor safe to hand out anything, nor would I bring my young daughter with me to give her a life lesson. It’s too bad I feel this way, but people who are drinking/taking drugs are unpredictable. It is probably survival for them – yes! But someone who doesn’t have their full faculties makes me nervous. I take medication for mental illness. I have a notion of why drink and drugs are a desirable escape. Fortunately, my socio-economic situation allows me to get help. Do the folks that “live“ at the park want help? Are they ready for it? Will giving them food/shelter just make staying where they are now survivable instead of getting the necessary help? Do homeless shelters provide access to mental health resources and employment assistance?   A park and the streets certainly don’t.

        • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (8:56 am)

          Thanks so much for sharing honestly your discomfort and concerns and thoughts.

          I can understand where you’re coming from, but at the same time would like to ask you to consider challenging those fears a bit, sometime when and if you feel ready.

          Perhaps some morning, when it might feel less risky, you and your daughter could bring them smiles and a box of donuts and wish them a good day. Just an idea, but no pressure if you don’t feel safe.  It might help to soften your concerns and increase your comfort. And it could be a lesson  of kindness, giving, and courage for your daughter.

          Regarding your questions around wether they would accept help, etc., this is a more complicated aspect to dig into and, and I would like to share some of my understanding and thoughts on this, but need to give more thought to how to speak to this.

          Also, want to share, that when I spoke with Kaety, she began sharing ideas and insights into how we might better approach helping homeless folks transition back into housed living, what they really need to begin a path toward healing and rehabilitation and new opportunities. I think her experience and perspective is insightful and valuable. I am planning to work on writing something up to share about this conversation and give voice to her ideas, in the near future.

          • Calires October 9, 2020 (10:51 pm)

            I envy your trusting nature and radical compassion.  While I think it is a fine idea to bring older children to homeless shelters or organized encampments to volunteer when OK’d by the organizers of such places, I think it is extremely naive and irresponsible to suggest bringing a child to a place known to be inhabited by aggressive, intoxicated people suffering with mental illness.  People with mental illness who are intoxicated can be extremely unpredictable and you should never willingly put a child in that situation.  As a teenager, I was assaulted by a mentally ill homeless man when I made the mistake of using a pay phone on the street and had my back turned to the sidewalk.  I was lucky to get away with just torn clothing and bruises.  I know that not all homeless people are violent or mentally ill, but many of the group in the park are.  Adults can do as they please, but do not put a child in a potentially dangerous situation.  

          • Comments from inside... October 10, 2020 (9:14 am)

            Thanks for your comments, and sharing your concerns.

            I understand your concerns after personally having that traumatic experience, and I’m sorry that happened to you.

            However, I am wondering how these folks in the park would feel in reading your comment, the assumption that they might harm a child, and how that might impact their mental health… and it breaks my heart.

            My suggestion comes with the unspoken expectation that people should assess situations for themselves before approaching.

            I am not suggesting anyone, with or without their children, ever approach a situation without assessing as you approach, and with some confidence, and accepting there may be some risk.

            I think approaching these folks with a child to offer something kind, so long as the situation feels approachable (in that moment there isn’t fighting, apparent drug taking, erratic behavior, agitation, etc) isn’t as high risk as you might think. But, you are right, there is some risk, and of course parents should consider that.

            After my experiences and encounters, I personally would have confidence approaching with my child, if after assessing, it felt reasonably safe to do so.

        • Anne October 9, 2020 (8:59 am)

          Great post Vanessa. 

  • Impatient with supercilious pillocks October 9, 2020 (3:24 am)

    A few quick points: If the garbage is an acknowledged problem why don’t these park dwelling denizens clean up after themselves? This is low hanging fruit and it’s clearly been acknowledged.Some of you are so fired up that you want to lend a direct hand? Great! Move them onto your couch. Provide a roof and access to actual hygiene and laundry. Oh. Wait….All you want is to feel superior to those of us that are frustrated that this public space is not quite so public anymore and to assuage you conscience by bringing candles. Items that start fires.To compare these squalid little scenes to some of the SHARE/WHEEL camps and Nickelsville is not fair to the organized camps. To bring Hooverville into this is ridiculous.There are routinely sketchy men around that park. IF you want to encourage these men and women to move on remove the port-a-potties. Don’t enable these encampments.

  • Concerned October 9, 2020 (8:27 am)

    Are you kidding?  This is a park for the public- not a overnight camping spot or a place to do or sell drugs and listen to loud music  and smoke.  There is a sign- that clearly states NO SMOKING.  That area stinks and is so gross now and so sad that WS junction is allowing this to happen.  Provide shelters – offer other assistance.   Letting a public park be used for this type of behavior and the total take over is not right.  This is exactly what is going on at Cal Anderson park- and it has continued.  Is this where WS is going?  I hope not.  Big surprise that Herbold isn’t providing any aid.  She is a worthless CM.

  • Joyce October 9, 2020 (8:33 am)

    I’m curious why people feel it is ok for a community park to be turned into a campground? It is a space intended for the whole neighborhood to use and there are clear guidelines about what is allowed in parks. Now, it seems like it’s becoming a debate over whether a few people are allowed to live there vs a whole neighborhood able to use the space as intended. Even the comment about “just sitting around listening to music and smoking” makes it a place where small kids aren’t welcome (based on the type of music playing last time I walked by). The trash everywhere is dangerous and unsightly. I’m sure the trash collection schedule wasn’t intended to support people living full time — that’s why it’s overflowing. This isn’t meant for residential garbage collection. What we’re teaching our kids is it’s ok to break the law, not follow city ordinances and to camp anywhere we please. Would the city be ok with me pitching a few tents and having a campout with my kids anywhere I want in West Seattle? We have campgrounds for that. I’ve stopped shopping in the Junction because of this situation. My daughter is terrified to return to the farmers market after being harassed by two men in the park while we waited in line to get into the market, she’s witnessed men relieving themselves in the bushes and other behaviors not suitable for young children or necessary for a family that just wants to stroll around the neighborhood and get an ice cream. We won’t be doing that — there’s nowhere to sit and eat it anymore. I’m sure my comment isn’t PC enough or makes me sound too privileged, but it shouldn’t be considered a “privilege” to enjoy a nice, clean city-owned pocket park without fear of harassment or illegality.

  • D Del Rio October 9, 2020 (8:47 am)

    Until Seattle voters vote in moderate progressive council members, things will only get worse. We as a city need to help them, not enable them. If you can’t see that, you are the problem. 

    • Comments from inside cozy homes October 9, 2020 (9:52 am)

      I am suggesting we help them, and perhaps there is a big lack of understanding regarding the ‘help’ they truly need.

  • John W October 9, 2020 (9:12 am)

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of these compassionate posters hosted some of these hapless park people?  … so many of us ’empty nesters’ in West Seattle like myself, Dburns’ and hundreds of others? Since there are only a few and we have “comments from the inside” vouching for them, West Seattleites with extra space can easily house  these few good people and help them get back their independence.  “Housing First” is the program that is proven to reduce all problems related to homelessness. Good intended donations of the camping items listed do little to address homelessness, substance abuse, mental health or petty property crime.BLM and Social Justice issues have rightfully emerged, but they do not specifically address rampant homelessness, our untreated mentally ill and substance abusers.

    • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (10:04 am)

      I hear where you’re coming from, and good idea, but also consider, some of these folks may not feel safe staying in strangers homes and with the uncertainty of that situation, and how they will be treated, how that will play out, and will it result in further trauma?

      I believe the answers are somewhere in looking and listening and giving more, and less in forcing and imposing things, including our expectations.

      Does being forced into things work well for you? 

      Now imagine you have many issues and sensitivities and feel like a complete outsider. Now take a deep breathe. Yeah, this is a more complex issue than any of us can understand from inside our cozy homes.

      These are people who have been through hell. 

      I don’t believe there is a one size fits all solution.

      But maybe a good place to begin is with more kindness, compassion, and connection.

      • John W October 9, 2020 (11:00 am)

        Right you are.But kindness, compassion and connection will not solve homelessness, mental illness, debilitating substance abuse and lack of health care.And as a reminder we are at where we began before,  the public, church and social services that we relied on are not up to the task.  The good people of West Seattle have long given kindness, compassion  and connection to no avail.  No mention of needing people being forced into anything.  Offering structured professional guidance and a way out are not forcing. And if I was the one doing illegal activities, I could simply stop doing them thus avoiding being forced by legally established remedies. 

      • s October 9, 2020 (1:21 pm)

        Comments From Inside says: “I hear where you’re coming from, and good idea, but also consider, some of these folks may not feel safe staying in strangers homes and with the uncertainty of that situation, and how they will be treated, how that will play out, and will it result in further trauma?”………But have you asked them? I bet if you get to know them, they will start to feel comfortable with you, and then at least some will accept your offer to have them stay in your house, or at least camp in your backyard. Then you could have bbq cookouts for them any time you want, and they could use your shower and toilet when needed. If you actually do this, I sincerely promise that I will bring a Costco-sized pack of hot dogs and buns and toilet paper by your house to donate. Serious, not snark.

  • 11epees October 9, 2020 (9:21 am)

    It’s a double edged sword.   I’m all for outreach and agree that everyone deserves food, shelter, facilities, direction to resources, But like anywhere else, there are rules and and regulations that need to be followed even in the parks.  Open flames (candles) and nylon tents are NOT compatible.

  • anoninstl October 9, 2020 (10:14 am)

    I went shopping at QFC a week ago and walked by the park and was screamed at by a gentleman sitting by the park. I’m not sure his intention was to scream at me per se or just scream at someone. It was clear to  me he was dealing with mental health issues.  Every bench was taken up by someone sleeping on it and there was a large pile of garbage behind at least two of the benches. Based on what I saw and experienced I don’t feel that I can enjoy the park as a resident of West Seattle and I’m sure others don’t feel they can anymore either. My husband and I used to sit there and have a coffee in the past. Honestly when people are taking every bench to sleep it’s a given you can’t sit down.  While the poster may have had a fine experience it’s obvious it’s not that way all the time and frankly the garbage is an issue.  It’s a complicated issue and I would like to see these people sheltered, but that takes a lot of money and I’m not sure the city has the money right now considering how COVID has affected so many things and we also can’t tax our way out of this. I also believe that as residents of West Seattle that if this becomes the norm then living here is going to be less enjoyable and we won’t be free to enjoy our public spaces. I do believe that if any of these people are committing crimes they should be removed immediately, I’m really not sure what we do otherwise other than move them on or perhaps some of the individuals who have visited them and feel more comfortable with this situation can offer up housing options.. 

  • YES2WS October 9, 2020 (10:39 am)

    I live in the junction and no longer feel it desirable / safe to stroll through the pocket park; let alone sit for a spell.  I’d say maybe with pepperspray, but still not desirable; so what’s the point. The city is really missing it with outreach and resources for our citizens lacking shelter and that is truly a shame.

  • flimflam October 9, 2020 (11:57 am)

    a related question – now that the council has canceled the navigation team/outreach/sweeps what are they planning to replace it with? you’d think they would have an actual replacement plan in place before just dismantling the former one…

    • WSB October 9, 2020 (12:43 pm)

      They did, and so far the mayor has not reallocated the funding.

      • alki_2008 October 9, 2020 (4:11 pm)

        Huh?  Can you provide more details on that because the last I’ve read is that the Mayor’s office says the CC has not provided an alternative. That the mayor was opposed to some sort of “borrowing” of funds from one dept to another and that was why the money wasn’t released, but then it ended up being released anyway under assumption that borrowed money would be given back to other depts in 2021.I might be missing some updated info.

        The City Council forced the ending of the Navigation team, which the Mayor opposed, so hopefully the City Council also has a replacement plan in mind. CC has been trying to end the Nav team for over a year. Hope they have alternatives in mind, or do they just want to let encampments grow.

        • WSB October 9, 2020 (5:10 pm)

          as well as remarks made in other venues (see our coverage of the first hour of CM Herbold’s town hall last week, for example.

          • flimflam October 9, 2020 (5:51 pm)

            well, camps are growing in numbers as we speak, not decreasing. garbage, needles, tents, bike chopping needs to be addressed with more than compassion and good intentions. all citizens of the city deserve much better.

          • alki_2008 October 9, 2020 (11:33 pm)

            So we can contact Aaron B at LEAD to deal with problematic homeless people?

            Are you saying that there are no alternatives until $1.4M is released? They were already contracted with the city, without the extra $1.4M taken from the Navigation Team, so why would they suddenly not be available without the reallocated funds. Understandable that they might not be able to expand without the reallocated funds, but they should still be able to maintain regular capacity. It would be interesting to see what the full contract amount for REACH-LEAD is, as a way to gauge how large of a proportion $1.4M really is.

  • RJB October 9, 2020 (12:37 pm)

    My gawd….thank you inside a cozy home for your compassion. Seems we don’t have enough of that in West Seattle or this country right now. I also as “med. size women” have been the park to assist a person I know that is there sometimes. No problems, ever. Not saying these people do not need help and should not be living in a park. Step outside our comfort zone…talk to the homeless. Metal illness is another issue….these people need help. And immediately. #VOTE

    • CMT October 9, 2020 (5:50 pm)

      Yes, people should be compassionate and most are.   Disagreement with allowing  a small number of people to take over and dominate a tiny pocket park – the Junction neighborhood’s sole green space excepting the golf course – making it undesirable for the remainder of the neighborhood to use, does not mean people are not compassionate.  My gawd, the commenter below shared that park residents almost hit her 4 year old with an egg.  Seriously.

    • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (6:49 pm)

      Thank you for your support, and for your sharing and compassion too.

  • Lee October 9, 2020 (12:58 pm)

    About 3 months ago my 4 year old daughter and I were crossing the street toward the South side of Alaska right in front of the park.   Two guys from within the park started to throw eggs at us.   One missed my daughters head by inches.   We ran into the Ramen place and they called the cops.   We hung out for a while and watched the same guys hit multiple cars and a city bus as well as throw eggs at a couple with two little kids.   After about 15 mins we left but cops had not shown.   

  • WS taxpayer October 9, 2020 (1:11 pm)

    Why are people camping in a park? During a pandemic? It is not good for people to be living in tents in our city. It’s unhealthy physically and psychologically. WE are better than this. Take a look at Ballard if you want to see  what the future looks like when living in tents is allowed. People are publicly defecating wherever they feel like. It’s a public health crisis and very unsafe, especially for shorter females.KC has available warm, dry, safe spaces for humans seeking “free” shelter.  Dial 2-1-1 they can help those needing assistance.  Millions of dollars are allocated by the city and county. No one should be living in tents here.

    • formerHomeless October 9, 2020 (7:35 pm)

      Yes, exactly… Yesterday morning before 9, a woman walking ahead of me pulled down her pants and peed on the sidewalk.  The port-a-potty was just 5ft away… Last week an unmasked & impaired woman closely approached me for food as I waited for the bus, I’ve witnessed heated exchanges between “park” people and apartment residents, etc, things I rather not encounter.  Let’s not forget the “bad apple” who recently broke QFC’s windows on a rampage.  I’ve also been known to give a kind and friendly hello because I can relate.   I even helped the woman “CozyHome” has talked to with an IKEA bag filled with appropriate incidentals (masks, hand sanitizer, socks, hot hands) & a couple of hoodies I didn’t wear anymore.  I would like to think that she, plus another were appreciative.  There are warm, night shelters, that offer a warm meal and a couple of bus tickets, continental breakfast.  Drugs and alcohol are not tolerated in the shelters.  It is obvious who will most likely not be allowed in.  I’ve even witnessed vulnerable people get kicked out because the staff weren’t able to completely diffuse situations out of their hands.  Safety is utmost for others who savor their nights on mats laid down before the meal.  Men, women, families – depends where.  Not only in shelters, but also in sanctioned tent encampments.  I’ve seen some intense situations & a few people die along the way.  Been there, done that, seen it all, met a lot of cool humans, & not so cool.  The good, bad, and the ugly.  Actually, some people choose this way of life, some are waiting for housing, some just are, some need guidance, & there are those, like myself who have gotten to where I am currently.  Some have warrants, many need ID.  There are those who bask and enjoy others outreach and honesty and those who take advantage of donated items/gift cards to sell or trade for cash.  Dealing with what I was going through, I was beside myself when initially out in that cold, dark, dreary, night.  What did I do?Seriously, I dialed 2-1-1… I ended up having a meal that night with the guys & then being directed to a woman’s night shelter,,, then another shelter, then moving sanctioned tent encampments,,, then other roving night shelters,,, then found a day center who eventually got me into their more secured six-month stay being given the resources which I utilized for the steps to my now subsidized housing that I’ve been in for five years.  Now the nudge is to find more permanent housing which is daunting to say the least with rents as they are.  Still treading water.To me, those who are mindful, able, and have the desire to become sheltered and housed will.  The vulnerable need guidance.  I also question the allocation of city, state, federal funding for the un-housed.  There is definitely a plethora of resources to suit just about anyone’s fancy: my experience strengthens who I am and hopefully sheds a little light on the WS community.  I’m thankful for my unfortunate hardship and experience.  I didn’t let the circumstances define me and am truly awed by those who compassionately outreach and give generously with their hearts.  This being said, I am out of ink.   ~11epees

  • John W October 9, 2020 (2:02 pm)

    No need to classify my favorite music as an illness!

  • Mj October 9, 2020 (6:01 pm)

    The City needs to ban and clear out all camps/tents in City parks and on sidewalks!  

  • Comments from inside... October 9, 2020 (9:51 pm)

    Interesting and timely article! Those with concerns that giving to homeless folks is enabling, may want to give this a read.

  • randy October 10, 2020 (1:09 am)

    I think of these words, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

  • Comments from inside cozy homes... October 10, 2020 (7:59 am)

    Thanks to those who are listening in on these discussions with an open heart and mind, those who are contributing to the conversation, and who may take something away, and especially folks who decide to reach out a kind hand and try to connect, even in a small way, with those who are homeless in the community.

    Have a great and cozy weekend everyone.

    <3 The Cozy Project

    ‘Better Days’

  • seaweed October 10, 2020 (5:18 pm)

    DRUG ADDICTS.  Simple. The resources to cure their problem  do not exist in their nightmare. It is only more drugs. All resources offered to them are redirected by them to cure themselves with their own medicine. They live only to fix. The only help that can be given,  is to force it upon them. 

  • JVP October 10, 2020 (10:23 pm)

    Hey Cozy, have you considered why they want candles? Instead of LED lights? Think about it. I’ll give you a minute…. Heroin. 

    • Comments from inside... October 11, 2020 (8:41 am)

      They want candles because they are human, and humans have need for light, warmth, and comfort, and candles provide all of this.

      Also side note, if more of us folks who want to be giving and kind come around, it might help to deter the predatory drug dealers from hanging around, further contributing to the problem, and causing them further harm.

      I do not have the sense that these folks, at least those that I spoke with, want to be doing heroin. I could be wrong, but it’s not the impression I have.

      Does anyone have an extra Scrabble game or Chess set they would like to donate and drop off for them? I would like to give these folks something positive and enjoyable for their minds.

Sorry, comment time is over.