Rantz: Sawant-district park unusable, overrun with homelessness and trash

Aug 19, 2019, 5:56 AM | Updated: 9:01 am

It’s supposed to be a tiny urban park enjoyed by the locals. Maybe you grab an apple danish or kugelhopf with coffee at nearby Bakery Nouveau and enjoy a morning chat with a friend. But instead of using our precious green space, Williams Place Park in Capitol Hill has been overrun by homeless, the site completely trashed, all thanks to the lack of attention by Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.

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The park on 15th and East John is a great example of Sawant’s inattention to her own district. Wander by on any morning, as I do every weekend, and you’ll see homeless men and women strewn about. The benches are almost always occupied by a passed out homeless person. There’s trash absolutely everywhere, including, bizarrely, right behind or on top of a nearby trash bin.

Sometimes the homeless loiter; other times, they get undressed. Sometimes they argue with each other, and sometimes they just lounge around doing nothing. The park is no longer the community’s — it’s been ceded over to homeless who don’t appear willing to take the city up on resources meant to help them.

It’s not that we don’t have resources for these folks; it’s that we don’t have the political will to successfully approach the problem as they do in Marysville. Sawant gets in the way of that, even orchestrating opposition to department leaders to sandbag Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nominees.

This is what happens in communities that have either given up, or have a councilmember so unattached to her own community, that she has no idea what’s going on. Sawant focuses on topics she can nationalize — minimum wage, union power, rent control — at the expense of what she’s supposed to do: Be a voice for her community.

All along 15th, just blocks around the park, homeless men and women sleep on sidewalks and beg for money, mere feet from Sawant’s illegally posted re-election signs, which at the time were nailed into utility poles.

Want to know why Sawant did so poorly in the general election? Walk around her district. She’s propped up by a loyal following of cult-like devotees with Socialist Alternative (loyalty she rewards with city-funded jobs), which came in handy running against so many opponents.

But it was a weak showing for a candidate with the city’s highest name recognition. She now finds herself running against a progressive, community-connected and small-business friendly Egan Orion.

11 devastating photos of what Seattle homelessness looks like

This park would be given more attention if Sawant was connected to her district. It will never be in a perpetual state of cleanliness, of course — it’s an urban park with a lot of foot traffic in a city that can’t figure out homelessness. But it could be in better shape — as could all of 15th — if only the district were represented by a councilmember not bent on dismantling capitalism. If her district is any indication of how the city would look under her brand of Socialism, this entire region is in trouble.

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Rantz: Sawant-district park unusable, overrun with homelessness and trash