FOLLOWUP: Sweep dates posted for encampment areas by 1st Avenue South Bridge

(WSB photos)

1:59 PM: Signs like that one, posted along the streets on the West Seattle side of the 1st Avenue South Bridge, announce a plan to sweep the area’s sprawling encampments next week. The notices list the dates as Monday through Thursday; no-parking signage in the area is for a much-longer period, Monday through April 18th.

As we’ve been reporting, a sweep/cleanup has long been planned in this area, where Southwest Precinct police say they’ve recovered more than 100 stolen cars. They also said sweep dates were set a few months ago but the plan was suddenly shelved. A city Unified Care Team member told the Southwest Precinct Crime Prevention Council last month that plans were moving ahead, in collaboration with agencies including WSDOT, since most of the area is theirs. We noted WSDOT-vested workers talking with people under the bridge when we went through:

Also notably, when we sent a question about this to our usual city contact this morning, it was forwarded to a WSDOT spokesperson for response. James Poling replied, “This site has been posted with a 72-hour notice. Those who are living onsite have been matched with a housing resource that works for them,” also noting that this response was “on behalf of our partners with the city, KCRHA and outreach partners onsite.”

P.S. Thanks to Lola for the tip on this via a comment; she mentioned Parking Enforcement seen in the area today – while there were none in evidence when we looked, we did note the telltale orange tag on one roadside RV.

5:42 PM: WSDOT’s Poling answered our followup questions – explaining for one that “the WSDOT employee in a vest was posting the 72-hour notice along the site. Beyond that task, WSDOT will not have a presence onsite until site cleanup begins.” Also, regarding outreach, Poling says, “Speaking on behalf of our partner agencies regarding the following, an outreach field team worked several weeks matching individuals who were living on the site with appropriate housing placements, and 30 individuals have since moved inside.”

29 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Sweep dates posted for encampment areas by 1st Avenue South Bridge"

  • Spooled March 16, 2023 (2:34 pm)

    Excellent news!  Long overdue.  I saw at least one of the stripped and wrecked vehicles (red pickup) had been removed by early afternoon.I fear they’ll just move and set up shop anew somewhere in residential South Park, Highland Park, White Center, etc.

  • Jim P. March 16, 2023 (2:46 pm)

    “As we’ve been reporting, a sweep/cleanup has long been planned in this area, where Southwest Precinct police say they’ve recovered more than 100 stolen cars.”Moves this way past “Those poor unfortunate souls” and into ongoing criminal enterprise territory.Maybe it’s time for the city to worry more about the rights of the honest citizens and maybe not so much about catering to the needs of criminals acting wholesale in public like this.

    • Mr J March 16, 2023 (5:23 pm)

      What constitutes an honest citizen? Other than taking away rights, how else should we dehumanize said population?

      • flimflam March 16, 2023 (5:51 pm)

        Mr J, Oh please – how about folks that don’t steal cars for starters. The weepy handwringing over car thieves is part of the reason we have these problems.

      • Christopher B. March 16, 2023 (5:54 pm)

        Nothing more dehumanizing than normalizing the devastating results of people living outside in the public right of way, making the working citizens of this city miserable in service of some unconditionally compassionate ideology that makes sense in just about every way except reality, and promulgating a belief that imposing some kind of intervention on a “vulnerable” population is so fundamentally flawed and problematic that the best thing to do is nothing at all.

        • Jethro Marx March 17, 2023 (7:09 am)

          I really wanted to pick through your epic sentence fragment journey and figure out what you were saying, but in the end, found it to be, “so fundamentally flawed and problematic that the best thing to do is nothing at all.”

        • Mr J March 17, 2023 (9:20 am)

          Not here to normalize theft. Sweeps don’t work they are just a feel good activity for property owners raising their pitchforks and for politicians to get good press.  Look at every spot that’s been swept, usually within 24hrs people are back because we offer no real solutions. Nobody here wants to see people living on the streets. The fundamental difference is that some citizens don’t want to see this and think the solution is akin to getting new landscaping (Sweep them). The real solutions start by reducing rents, tons of outreach and services to get our most vulnerable off the streets and back into society. More sweeps and police don’t stop this it just makes people feel like something’s being done and it’s really not. We have failed to keep our politicians in check (not a single housing bill past this session) on a State, County and City Level. I’m commenting here to ask people to stop punching down and start punching up. Dehumanizing people is repulsive even if they’ve turned to property crime to survive. I’m not advocating for that I’m advocating for humanity and for the people in power to do more.

        • Rick March 18, 2023 (10:31 am)

          Word salads are popular these days. Also known as “excuses”.

      • Frustrated March 16, 2023 (6:35 pm)

        How about one who doesn’t steal cars? Is that really such a high bar?

        • Mr J March 16, 2023 (9:50 pm)

          Sure. But that’s not what the last commenter was saying. There are criminals there, but also vulnerable houseless people. Suggesting that we put ourselves over them is a way of othering that needs to be pushed back against. 

          • Agreed March 17, 2023 (12:31 am)

            Here here! Thank you! Agreed, please we musttreat everyone as human beings and “othering” people should not be tolerated. 

      • Mike March 17, 2023 (7:07 am)

        You are the reason people are homeless and addicted to deadly drugs.  You are the problem, not the solution.  Allowing this to continue in society is killing people.

        • Mr J March 17, 2023 (1:40 pm)

          Uhhhhh. Ok. What part about my comments suggested I want people to live like that? Sweeping isn’t a solution. It’s like taking a painkiller for a missing limb but not actually addressing the problem of the limb missing. Pop as many painkillers as you like until the State/County/City start trying to solve the problem instead of numbing the pain round and round we go.

  • Question Authority March 16, 2023 (3:41 pm)

     The combined agencies or contractors doing the clean up better have an order in for extra construction dumpsters because that place is an extra large encampment.   The entire surface will need to be remediated of all of the motor oil, transmission and radiator fluid from all of the vehicles scrapped apart there on the rivers edge.

    • WSB March 16, 2023 (5:22 pm)

      That was noted in our earlier coverage, some of which is linked in this story, that the initial sweep would have to be followed by an extensive cleanup.

      • CarDriver March 16, 2023 (5:25 pm)

        WSB. Will you be able to find out what all they found during the clean up?

  • Jeepney March 16, 2023 (4:11 pm)

    Will fences be put up to prevent a reoccupation of the area?  If not, this is just merely a spring cleaning of the area.

    • 1994 March 16, 2023 (10:17 pm)

      Maybe a double, or even a triple, row of those giant concrete blocks to block access?

  • TM7302 March 16, 2023 (4:32 pm)

    Ahhh, this news is better than a Bombay Sapphire martini!

  • Stolen Car Victims Aren't Made Whole March 16, 2023 (5:44 pm)

    Question: if we know that’s where the stolen cars are, was anybody watching the thieves and to have them arrested? So much damage and loss to our otherwise peaceful community. Arrest and keep the criminals in jail, damnit!

  • MM March 16, 2023 (6:04 pm)

    What can be done so they don’t come back?  Harbor Ave has a few RVs that have appeared again.  I thought parking enforcement was going to ticket and tow after 72 hrs?

  • Odd son March 16, 2023 (11:58 pm)

    Way to be proactive Seattle!

  • snowskier March 17, 2023 (8:32 am)

    Good to see WSDOT finally get involved in the action.  Now if they could take ownership of clearing the multitude of other encampments along the highways from Olympia to Everett rather than getting in the way due to ‘coordination needs’ then we might see some of these things cleaned up.  I’m not holding my breath because that would take leadership from Inslee.

  • WS March 17, 2023 (8:36 am)

    Seattle is like the enabler parent for these folks.  Give them money- allow the criminal activity- park dilapidated RV’s around our city- encourage the victim mentality.  Has this helped? Not!  Get them help and get them off the streets.  Stop encouraging and accommodating this behavior and giving a pass.  This is asinine and insane.  Seattle govt.  and a lot of the citizens that vote these people in need some serious therapy in codependency.  I hope with all the vacancies on the city council- we will get some better and tougher candidates that want more for this city.

    • Mr J March 17, 2023 (1:42 pm)

      Honestly feeling like it’s a coordination issue and fear of making unpopular decisions. Massive investments in transitional housing and social work are needed and I’m not sure why the politicians won’t make that a reality.

      • ltfd March 17, 2023 (8:06 pm)

        Massive investments in housing don’t address mental illness, drug addiction, and organized crime.

        • Mr J March 17, 2023 (10:25 pm)

          That’s the “social work” I was referencing. 

  • Green thoughts March 17, 2023 (9:16 am)

    I know most people are only so many paychecks before facing homelessness. I do empathize with the unsheltered citizens of Seattle. However, people homeless or otherwise need to be held accountable for committing crimes. I hope the criminals are moved away from public life for a while and the rest of the homeless sheltered somewhere that is not completely demoralizing. Do we know if city is planning to do environmental cleanup in the area in/around encampment? It’s especially sad to see so much pollution in the nearby wetlands that host so many incredible birds. I’d love to see those areas properly cared for instead of the landfill they’ve become. 

  • Carson March 17, 2023 (1:39 pm)

    Again, every single person living in a car/RV/tent has been offered a shelter bed/apt/small home/temporary shelter multiple times. Those places don’t allow drug use or criminal activity. They are living there because they choose to. Having visited a shelter as part of outreach work I can say I wouldn’t want to be there, but they have heat and bathrooms. They are here because we are not enforcing the laws and the weather is tolerable. 

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