It’s not unique to Seattle. The entire city is dealing with a drug problem, a homeless crisis, squatters, lack of affordable housing; The list goes on and coalesces on the doorstep of KIRO Radio. Squatters have set up across the street from the radio station.
The house is fenced off. Like so many other properties in town, the land has been sold and awaits new development. In the meantime, however, there are some who have decided to make use of the building.
Neighbors have noticed a line of people entering and leaving the home with various items from bikes to sewing machines.
“I personally have seen a heroin needle with a cap (outside the house). I have personally seen broken liquor bottles on several occasions. I personally have seen human feces,” said KIRO Radio’s Ron Upshaw. “To me, this is the culmination of all of the main threads of what’s going on in Seattle right now. This is a duplex, which is being turned into a 40 unit building with no parking … you have phone calls into the police, and the police come out here. It doesn’t take CSI to figure out there are drugs going in-and-out of this house. And yet everybody, including the police, seem to say their hands are tied.”
The Eastlake squatters even have their own Twitter profile, which is being updated with photos from neighbors.
Who to call about Eastlake squatters?
The two-story home has a dilapidated garage that has seen better days. The plan is to eventually tear down the structure and build tiny studio apartments that generally make up for their lack of size with a sky-high rental price. Plans have been submitted to the city for development, but until the developer gets approval from officials, nothing can be torn down.
The developers that own the property have moved squatters out numerous times recently and have also boarded up the building. But squatters keep returning.
“As far as I understand, the Seattle police have been sent pictures of people coming in and out of the house, yet they have not tried to go in and see if anyone is in there. When they come out, they walk the perimeter,” said KIRO Radio anchor Kim Shepard.
“I went over and talked to one of the people who came out of the house … because I noticed the front door was wide open … a guy came out, probably early 20s … he said he left his bass and his amp inside,” she said. “He came back to get them, but they’re not in there and he doesn’t know what happened.”
The squatters are within view of Erika’s office window across the street. She watched as police responded to calls about the house.
“Two officers did come around,” Erika said. “They walked the driveway, kind of peeked around the back. Didn’t try knocking on the door. Didn’t try going into the house.”
“What’s funny is that once the officers left, everybody scattered from the house – they all took off,” Erika said. “They packed up a car and left. We thought, ‘Maybe they got the message.’ Oh no.”
The squatters were back soon enough.
A developer also came to check out the house after the police visited. He went into the home, looked around, then walked outside to make a call. Before he stepped off the property, squatters returned and reentered the house.
“So just off the top of my head, we have breaking and entering, trespassing, we have possible drug distribution, we have possible fencing of stolen materials, squatting – that’s five possible crimes with photographic evidence and eye-witness accounts,” Ron said.
City council member Rob Johnson replied to a complaint Tuesday night. In short:
“We’re actively working with our city department of construction and inspections to allow developers to tear down those houses more quickly,” Johnson wrote.