After homeless camp swept, Seattle businesses still have little hope

Jun 5, 2019, 6:00 AM | Updated: 6:06 am
homeless, Lake City Way...
A group of tents, complete with piles of garbage, have been removed from this location along Lake City Way. (KTTH, Tom Amato)
(KTTH, Tom Amato)

After months of complaints from locals, Seattle’s navigation team cleared a problematic homeless encampment behind the LA Fitness on 31st Ave NE in Lake City. However, some nearby business owners are confident the camp will return.

Karl Straume is the General Manager of Lake City Autoworks. He’s been around Lake City for more than 30 years and said the homelessness problem has increasingly worsened.

“There used to be some homeless people 30 years ago,” he said. “They were nice and they were helpful. They would come down and ask, ‘Hey, can I sweep your bathroom for $20?,’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah, for sure,’ but it’s not the same.”

Straum said the homeless individuals residing in this particular camp have stolen power and water from him. He said they would break into his telephone line and leave needles, garbage, condoms and all kinds of junk behind the shop. Even though the camp was swept, he doesn’t believe the problem will go away anytime soon. He’s seen this happen before.

“They used to be behind the Starbucks,” Straum said, pointing across the street. “They came and they cleaned that. We’d see them walk from there, with their shopping carts, up here behind [the gym]. Within a couple of hours, there were tents. I mean, where are they going to go?”

Straum isn’t the only business owner skeptical the camp will remain swept. Beverly Ivey owns Pacific Northwest Flooring on Lake City Avenue and said she has dealt with squatters for five years, roughly.

“The homeless camp has just been moving from block to block,” she said. “They’ll find another place where they can do it. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t try to go down to the gully across from us again.”

Ivey said the group has been hanging around their business for months and caused quite the disturbance.

“They get wild and crazy and scream,” Ivey said. “I’ve had neighbors call my business and say, ‘You’ve gotta get these people out from behind here because they’re keeping us up all night.”

The campers have also reportedly become aggressive. While Ivey said she’s afraid to go out after dark, and closes shop a half-hour early when she can, an employee of the local Chevron station said an aggressive man has stolen from the store on multiple occasions.

“He just came inside and started taking a beer,” she said. “We tried to stop him, but he started threatening us, so I called the cops.”

The city’s Human Services Department said they’ve been working for months to house some of the individuals. Spokeswoman Meg Olberding told KIRO Radio Monday they’ve been successful in housing some of the campers, but it does take time.

“It really is going person-by-person, one at a time, trying to identify the best route for them to feel safe, and to move them to a safer location,” Olberding said.

However, these Lake City business owners aren’t ready to believe the problem is solved.

“They’ll find something,” Ivey said. “I’m sure it won’t take them long.”

Straum is beginning to lose hope.

“City council needs to do something, pass some different laws,” he said. “I’ve stopped reading about it .. stopped watching. I think that’s pretty much everybody’s take. Kind of giving up.”

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

seattle police, traffic stops...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: New equity policy bars Seattle Police from some traffic stops, opens door to more car theft

Seattle Police are now barred from many non-criminal traffic stops after activists claimed concerns over equity.
3 days ago
Sheriff Fortney...
KTTH staff

Snohomish County Sheriff Fortney will run for re-election after failed recall effort

After a failed recall effort against him last year, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney says he will run for office again in 2023.
4 days ago
MultiCare hospitals...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: MultiCare hospitals order symptomatic COVID-positive staff to see patients

MultiCare Health Systems is forcing COVID-positive staff to work at its area hospitals, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned.
5 days ago
Redistricting ,senator...
KTTH staff

State senator escorted out after not submitting negative COVID test

State Senator Phil Fortunato was escorted out of the Legislative building in Olympia because he had not submitted a required negative COVID test.
5 days ago
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, coronavirus...
KTTH staff

‘They never could figure me out’: Former King County Sheriff looks back on shortened tenure

Former King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht left office at the end of 2021, and spoke to KTTH's Jason Rantz Show this week to reflect on her tenure.
5 days ago
transgender, gender...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: WA laws now allow teen gender reassignment surgery without parental consent

Washington state now appears to allow minors to undergo life-changing gender reassignment surgery without parental consent.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
After homeless camp swept, Seattle businesses still have little hope