ENCAMPMENTS; SW Marginal Place swept again, and why 2nd/Michigan remains unswept, despite 100+ stolen cars

Updates on two West Seattle encampments:

(Reader photo sent by Conrad)

SW MARGINAL PLACE SWEPT: Thanks to those who sent tips that the SW Marginal Place RV encampment [map] has been swept again. The cul-de-sac by the bridge was swept in August, but RVs and associated vehicles eventually showed up again. At tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, Southwest Precinct operations Lt. Dorothy Kim confirmed that the encampment was swept today. The street also has been at least temporarily blocked off as closed – it’s always been a route betweem the bridge-side path and West Marginal Way, but now that the low bridge is closed to riders (among others), the street is a major link in the bike route.

2ND/MICHIGAN: Also at the WSCPC meeting, Lt. Kim was asked about the notorious encampment next to the 1st Avenue South Bridge – best known for stolen cars (she said tonight that police have recovered more than 100 there). At the November WSCPC meeting (WSB coverage here), she had said dates were set for a cleanup of that site. Tonight, when the topic came up, she said police were frustrated because the cleanup plan “fell through.” Both she and City Attorney’s Office precinct liaison Joe Everett talked about the situation. (Added: Here’s our video)

Everett said that dates had been worked out at a meeting with city and state reps – it’s state-owned land – in early December. All are well aware that it’s a “huge drain on SPD resources” as well as a major problem for nearby businesses. But as the dates got closer, something caused it to be called off – possibly concerns from the mayor’s office, possibly logistics, possibly because of a “request from WSDOT to share resources,” whatever the case, it didn’t happen, and “two bureaucracies trying to work together” didn’t make things any easier – “there’s a lot of coordination that needs to happen.” But they’re now “trying to put it together again.” We’ll be following up on this tomorrow.

40 Replies to "ENCAMPMENTS; SW Marginal Place swept again, and why 2nd/Michigan remains unswept, despite 100+ stolen cars"

  • Alki resident January 12, 2023 (9:39 pm)

    It’s absolutely infuriating to see thousands of victims of car theft, get ignored by all of these people in charge of crime. So far we’ve had four friends find their vehicles at that chop shop, completely totaled and unable to tow. I could go on but it’s exhausting being completely ignored. It’s like they want you to give up begging for change. 

    • sad attendee January 13, 2023 (4:31 pm)

      Important take away from last night’s meeting regarding the unhoused RVs on Harbor Ave (and everywhere else), call (206) 684-CITY or better yet download the Find It Fix It App – find-it-fix-it-mobile-app and report the location.

      We were told last night that the SPD is no longer allowed to respond to complaints of this sort.  

      It all now goes through the FIX IT. 

      If everyone posting here requests service to the Harbor Ave. RV encampment, the city will supposedly respond.

      Having attended both meetings listed by WSB this week with SPD, the common thread and constant refrain to most questions regards lack of staffing and new rules passed by the state legislatures and the City of Seattle, with both passing laws that are proving full of unanticipated negative consequences.

      Please take moment to write your representatives and utilize Find It Fix It each and every time you observe an issue.

  • Lisa January 12, 2023 (10:07 pm)

    Clean up Harbor Avenue! It’s frightening to ride/walk/run by there as a woman. We should not have to be in fear whilst getting exercise on a path meant for just that. I’ve been through that area several times when there has been a mentally unstable person yelling at whomever will listen.

    • StupidinSeattle January 13, 2023 (10:28 am)

      Lisa, it’s totally frightening to walk/run/bike by those Harbor Avenue RVs for a man too.  Desperate drug addicts/dealers and people with mental illness could violently attack any of us.  Appreciate Mayor Harrell’s efforts to conduct sweeps.  Waiting to hear what he wants or needs to solve the problem more permanently as the next phase.

  • Hhhhh January 12, 2023 (10:40 pm)

    I agree with Lisa on Harbor Ave. Public space cannot be used for private use. Everyone should be allowed to use it, if they follow the rules (like the 72hr parking restriction).

    • Ferns January 12, 2023 (11:56 pm)

      Yes. That’s what I was thinking – that if the 72 hour parking were enforced daily, it might cost less than these multiagency cleanups. Dedicate someone to tracking the parking/towing/ticketing at these locals. 

  • Rhonda January 12, 2023 (11:06 pm)

    Washington State has turned into a police state for the law-abiding and a haven of freedom for all kinds of criminals. How much longer are taxpaying voters going to put up with this upside-down nightmare?

  • WSeattleNeighbor January 13, 2023 (3:43 am)

    I completely agree with Lisa!! Harbor Ave SW between the bridge and Salty’s has more RV’s than I have ever seen before in recent history. I know it’s been cleared (RV’s and vehicles forced to move or towed) before but seems they are back again. This time there are more RV’s and vehicles than ever before with things also blocking the sidewalk that’s so often used for walkers, runners and bikers alike. I noticed one RV is even using a solar panel for their power generation and another has a trailer full of at least 20 pallet boards on it. It seems like the city clears one area only for them to move to a new area not far away. The Whack A Mole approach is failing miserably at truly solving this issue but also allowing RV’s/Vehicles to grow in large numbers isn’t safe or acceptable either. If they ticketed/towed when it starts with one illegally parked vehicle/RV then it would discourage others from showing up to that same location. Gotta get ahead of these encampments before they grow! Let’s do as you promised Bruce H & clean up our city and keep it safe for all who pay taxes & visit the area. 

    • J January 13, 2023 (6:14 pm)

      Yep. And far too many bikes (stolen?) hanging around. I ride my bike by regularly, and seems like more bikes than people. They come out after dark to work on these. Feels unsafe…dodgy characters hanging out too.Anyway, vehicles that are unsafe need to be impounded and destroyed. Garbage dumping on the street should be cleared by city workers and recycled or thrown away properly. Do we need to look up the laws? Or can police do their job and do that? Jeez

  • Sillygoose January 13, 2023 (6:25 am)

    Very disappointed you didn’t mention tonight’s guest speaker Feank Couch who spoke on mental illness in the homeless capacity and what is available to remove them from the streets. Great information on how to start involuntary commitment and treatment. Especially with officers budget cuts we need other resources to clean up our streets.

    • WSB January 13, 2023 (10:00 am)

      Hi – we’ll be writing about the rest of the meeting separately, including video of that speaker.

  • BP January 13, 2023 (6:40 am)

    Harbor Ave SW is a dumping ground. One inhabitant contributes 90% of what is seen on Harbor Ave. 2-3 uninhabited junk RV’s, long flat trailer stacked high with pallets, 2-3 converted truck bed trailers stacked high with junk, junk cars and trucks he can be seen stripping parts off. Nothing is licensed or street legal. Why has this person been allowed to accumulate so much junk and leave it on the street! Remove and dispose!

  • WSDad January 13, 2023 (8:10 am)

    I imagine the city tickets these people all the time. They just don’t care because city can’t do a lot. A thief stole a SUV in the junction and dumped it my driveway off 35th and Holden. I called the police and they could not do anything. I called the tow company and they would not move it. Lucky enough I was able to do a reverse look up and find the owner. I feel that the city is doing better with limited resources. I am seeing less tents and campers on the street. Now if we could solve the theft problem.

  • Brian January 13, 2023 (8:33 am)

    What happened to the newspeak of calling them “Remediations”? Did that sheen wash off fairly quickly and we’re back to sweeping?

    • WSB January 13, 2023 (10:05 am)

      “Sweep” is the word I chose to use. “Remediation” is Seattle Public Utilities’ word for what you might call halfway measures, cleanups that generally don’t result in the encampment residents actually moving. SPU operations were not what was being discussed here, although they might have been part of the SW Marginal Place operation – we didn’t hear about it until it was over so I don’t know which agencies were involved.

  • AlkiResident January 13, 2023 (9:15 am)

    Stealing a car is not a “victimless” crime. My pregnant sister and her husband had their older Honda stolen.  The car had been meticulously maintained and was in very good condition. The insurance agency gave them $2000 for it. There is no way they can replace the car they had for that. Now they have to go and try to find a car that will not break down on them or buy a more expensive car they know will be reliable, but that they cannot afford. It has put them in a real financial bind. The city, county, state, and police need to crack down on the car thieves and put them all in jail for good. They are ruining lives and creating extreme hardships for their victims. 

    • bolo January 13, 2023 (5:28 pm)

      You don’t have to accept the insurance co.’s first offer. If the car was in better than average condition, prepare your documentation to prove it to the insurance co. Receipts, photos, quotes from auto lots that have similar for sale in good condition. Present that to the ins. co. and they will increase their lowball payout. Requires footwork and a fighting spirit. Most just accept the lowball offer because they don’t know they can get it adjusted upwards with reasonable proof. Worked for me.

      Unless they already deposited the check. Then I think it’s too late.

      • K January 13, 2023 (6:17 pm)

        Second this.  There are laws in Washington requiring the insurance company to pay you enough to purchase a car of equal condition, make, etc. if yours is a total loss from damage, theft, whatever, even if it’s more than you paid when you purchased the car.

      • Resident January 19, 2023 (4:23 pm)

        You are ignoring the point here. You are victimizing the victim. They wouldn’t have to go through these steps, and they may not even work, if they had not had their vehicle stolen in the first place. And what do they do while they fight the insurance company? Ride the bus? Sure. Just adding more hardship to the victims while the criminals go free.  Have some empathy for the victims here.

  • gatewood88 January 13, 2023 (9:23 am)

    the state should be responsible for either utilizing the land they own and/or keeping it clear of criminal activity/environmental hazards. The encampment on 2nd/michigan is an environmental/health hazard. if they choose not to manage their own land in our city- there should be a mechanism to send them a bill for the cost to Seattle taxpayers to manage. 

    • Sasquatch January 13, 2023 (11:34 am)

      Great point. Totally agree

  • A Cleaner Alki January 13, 2023 (10:39 am)

    I can’t wait to get our group in to clean up that 1st Ave Bridge encampment once the people can get moved out. That area is a hub of crime all throughout West Seattle and White Center. Another area recently discovered area is up above Salty’s at the top of the trail off Harbor Ave where there are large dumping grounds. We’ll be getting up there to address it once the weather dries up. Join our group if you’d like to stay apprised of upcoming events. We’ll be doing a cleanup under the Admiral Way onramp to the WS Bridge tomorrow morning.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/acleaneralki

    • James January 15, 2023 (12:37 pm)

      Where is “that group” being “moved” to?

  • Christine January 13, 2023 (11:14 am)

    To fix this, vote for people who are different from our current politicians and who are actively involved in fixing these issues. Second, get yourself involved personally. Take one small step at a time. We allowed this to happen so we are all responsible for the solutions. 

    • sad attendee January 13, 2023 (4:51 pm)

      It is sad that a bill to reform the prohibition of pursuits by police(https://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2023-24/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/1053.pdf?q=20230113163758) is supported by 28 Republicans and 0 Democrats.  

      I never dreamed I would be aligned with Republicans on Law and Order, but we are in a crisis caused and fed by our Democrat leaders, those caught up in the social justice movement and all talk of Defunding Police.  
      We are all suffering from this ill thought experiment.

      • LovesWestSeattle January 20, 2023 (2:42 am)

        It’s like historically Seattle moderate democrat politicians have turned into mythical unicorns – can’t seem to find them anymore here. Where did they go? 

  • Amy January 13, 2023 (11:42 am)

    These comments are hilarious. Stating that the police/mayor/city council/anyone needs to clean up X street/location for my safety and person property loss. How do you think concrete change happens? What have you done personally to help this community with our mentally ill, addicted neighbors, or working unhoused? Crime sucks and feeling unsafe sucks but complaining about others not addressing your concerns is like yelling into the void.Mahatma Gandhi said: “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Times of crisis make clearer who the most vulnerable members of society are. They are always there, but too often people tend to ignore them until something makes them more visible.

    • WS New Guy January 13, 2023 (12:19 pm)

      Part of the issue, is that homeless people move to Seattle, due to our numerous social programs, which allow them to have a better quality of life, than other areas in our country.
      Seattle/King County is 
      spending money we do not have, to help the vulnerable.
      Synthetic fentanyl is being manufactured/produced in China, shipped to Mexico, then brought across the border. This addiction has become our nation’s largest health crisis, with more than 100 overdose deaths per day. Take a walk on 3rd Ave to see for yourself.  Open your eyes, to what we are allowing. It is an issue we are all responsible for, and need to come up with a solution.Seattle voters will have a chance to weigh in, with our city council elections this year.

      • AMD January 13, 2023 (4:58 pm)

        Please stop perpetuating this myth.  It’s old.  Moving to Seattle to be homeless is not a thing, no matter how many people insist it is.  New York has laws requiring the city to shelter homeless people, to the point where they rent hotel rooms for the homeless when they run out of shelter beds.  Los Angeles, Santa Fe, and Honolulu all have far friendlier climates to sleep outdoors than ours does, if you don’t want a hotel room in New York.  Seattle is a TERRIBLE place to be homeless.  People stay near their resources — family friends and jobs — because those are their best hope of getting out of homelessness.  

    • Lisa January 13, 2023 (3:03 pm)

      @Amy – I appreciate where you are coming from but it’s difficult to help someone when you are literally afraid for your life and/or safety to be in their presence. (I think even Gandhi would agree with that.) That is NOT coming from a prejudice against the un-housed, it’s a fact that these areas are not safe for individuals. I have thought many times about going down to Harbor Ave. and helping clean up but no way will I do that. What we can do is vote and make calls to the Mayor and City Council that we demand them to do what we’ve voted them in office to do: keep our streets safe. When the problem is bigger than what an individual can do to bring about change, we have to rely on our government to do it.

    • M January 13, 2023 (3:30 pm)

      I think some may disagree on who the vulnerable are.  Are they the victims of harassment, assaults, property thefts, etc….or are they the people living in the margins of society, potentially committing these offenses. 

      • It ain't easy January 15, 2023 (12:29 pm)

        Those living on the margins as you say are also victims of harassment, assaults, and property crime. Not all who live on the margins are criminals perpetuating these crimes. There are issues of poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, and mental illness, and crime in society all needing to be better addressed. These issues are not all one in the same. If this was a Venn diagram each would be a circle and there would be points of overlap. Not every person who is homeless is seriously mentally ill, a drug addict, and/or a criminal. Not every criminal is homeless. Not everyone with mental illness is homeless. All of these issues need work to better address root causes, and improved support systems, to help people out of these issues, and so police can better focus their efforts on addressing crime. More housing for all people and income levels is needed.

    • flimflam January 13, 2023 (8:53 pm)

      Any, please. Stop it. 100+ stolen cars has nothing to do with mental illness or poverty, or addiction really. This attitude is not helpful at all.

  • WS Taxpayer January 13, 2023 (1:22 pm)

    Appreciate your perspective from the ivory tower.  To whom would you like us to take up our complaints?  Shall we resort to vigilante tactics to reduce crime and blight in our communities?  We vote, we support our police, we show up for community meetings and continue to be left wanting for any semblance of a plan to address the chronic issues that are facing our city.   A whole lot of talking in circles and no-one willing to lead.  Addressing this crisis will require new, different, expensive and likely unpopular decisions – we have yet to find leaders who are willing to make them.  

  • It ain't easy January 13, 2023 (4:19 pm)

    Those with complaints about the homeless may feel vulnerable and fearful in moments but homeless people are more vulnerable and fearful 24/7, and can’t simply avoid a particular street to feel safer in their situation. Imagine if you were stuck in these circumstances, not having a safe place, and seen as an expendable member of society by those with more… how terrifying! While worrying about your own please consider their situations and needs to feel safe. These are fellow humans in a really difficult spot. More solutions are needed that both help homeless people and make the community safer and more enjoyable for everyone!

    • Wseattleite January 14, 2023 (2:32 pm)

      I keep hearing this banner, “imagine what other people may be feeling!”  WTH does that do to make anything better?  It is sheer conjecture to assume what others are feeling, and doing so does nothing but work the imagination. Solutions please. 

  • Jim P. January 13, 2023 (4:21 pm)

    “best known for stolen cars (she said tonight that police have recovered more than 100 there”

    That’s not a homeless encampment, that’s an open and continuing public nuisance and I hope even the more tender hearted will get behind forceful action and that the government will perform the functions we hired it to do..

    You want an anarchic system? There it is folks.

  • Ted January 14, 2023 (5:03 am)

    Seattle’s quality of life is crumbling and it drove my family out of west Seattle after living there for 20 years.Wake up Seattle ! Until common sense sets in and you cannot allow people to continue to break the law. Period. No matter what problems they have – allowing them to drive down the quality of life and safety for all who live there is a death spiral. It starts with you . An informed,  loud and forceful group of citizens has to demand something happen our your beloved West Seattle will continue to be overrun.Empathy starts AFTER common sense not before.

  • rico January 14, 2023 (11:32 am)

    I second TED’s post above, and have moved out of Seattle too.  I grew up in Seattle and had planned to stay until my last breath, but it just is not worth it anymore. 

  • Jason January 20, 2023 (8:16 pm)

    Truth is we’re still stuck in the politics of mental hygiene laws that were abused to lock people up…so we leave someone drug-addicted on the street where they won’t take care of themselves and whose their greatest influencer?  The shelter or the dealer/pimp?  Worst part is that it really seems to be getting a strong foothold in Seattle.  No one is bellying up the money pay to fix it the kind way…I sure couldn’t afford those taxes.  Could you? Meanwhile the developers still have Seattle in their pocket while it goes through the growing pains of a midsized metropolis which is growing furiously…look at other places that went through this stage..Austin had some striking similarities…including this type of trend that eventually led to organized gang activity increasing.  Meanwhile at that time APD ended up under DOJ supervised retraining for being too aggressive in cleaning it up.  Seattle isn’t your small town anymore
    thanks bill, and Jeff

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