Seattle neighborhood residents frustrated by city’s inaction on homeless camps

Jul 2, 2021, 10:23 AM
Seattle homeless Ballard...
Seattle homelessness has exploded, made worse by a Seattle City Council ad Mayor's office that stay silent. This is in Ballard. (Photo: Jason Rantz).
(Photo: Jason Rantz)

Tents and RVs are popping up across the city as large homeless camps at Green Lake, in Pioneer Square at City Hall Park, and on residential streets of Ballard. Neighborhood residents are calling on the city to do something, but they’re not seeing any action or success.

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James Byrne is one of those neighbors, and lives in Ballard. He says the situation is tense.

“We’ve been seeing RVs and encampments in neighborhoods and we’re starting to see conflict between residents and these encampments,” he told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I sent you an email earlier today with an instance of where someone shot a BB gun at an RV and, yeah, it’s just coming to a head. So I think the people here are ready for action. They want to see these camps cleared and these people given help, and just having something done.”

In Ballard, Byrne says there’s a constant fear of property crime and petty theft.

“I just feel like we shouldn’t have to be living with that,” he said. “I feel like these people should be getting help that they need, and if they need to stay some place, they shouldn’t be staying in residential neighborhoods. It just leads to conflict.”

Byrne has reached out to his district’s councilmember, Dan Strauss, to the mayor’s office, and to other city officials. Jason mentioned he knows a lot of other neighbors have done the same to draw attention to homeless camps near their home or workplace. But what has been the city’s response?

“Oh, nothing,” Byrne said. “I send emails with no real expectation of a reply. I just feel like I have to say something, so I email them. But yeah, nothing, nothing so far. … Besides the kind of boilerplate, just automatic response, no, I’ve never seen anything come back.”

“[Strauss] is not really helping us out that much, is he? He’s supposed to be representing us,” Byrne added. “And you have someone like this guy in Ballard who had the instance with RV camper, he’s just nowhere to be seen. These problems are affecting our neighborhood residents and he’s not helping us out.”

For now, the locals in different communities aren’t necessarily organized, as far as Byrne is aware. But he thinks everyone is being pushed to a point where they just have to say something.

“Someone should organize, we should put together a group,” he admitted.

“Mostly I just would like to see people have some help,” he added. “I know the city of Seattle is spending so much money on this, but I’m just not seeing any results. So I’m just kind of trying to hold it down in Ballard. I just try to keep an eye on everything.”

Byrne says he’s had two attempted home invasions, one successful.

As far as why there’s so much resistance from the city, Byrne isn’t sure but recognizes that homeless camps is not an easy problem to solve.

“It’s a hard problem. It’s a really hard problem. And I think sometimes the solutions for these types of things, they don’t really fit in with a left leaning narrative,” he said. “Addiction is a tough thing to deal with and it’s not always going to be a nice solution. … I just don’t think their solutions that would help would really jive with their voter base.”

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From here, Byrne isn’t sure what happens next. But he hopes he doesn’t have to leave the city.

“I think a lot of people are leaving Seattle. I know people who have rentals here, they’re abandoning the city because the rental laws are getting out of hand, the homeless problem is getting out of hand. I think everybody wants these people to get help but we’re just not seeing it happening.”

“I love Seattle. I’m from Seattle. But yeah, I guess everyone has a breaking point. If I was this man that had an encampment on his street, I’d have to leave. I wouldn’t be able to put up with that at all,” he said.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Seattle neighborhood residents frustrated by city’s inaction on homeless camps