Gee & Ursula: Someone has to take responsibility to fix encampments

Dec 20, 2021, 1:43 PM
Green Lake, encampments...
RVs and tents line a street near Green Lake in Seattle, pictured here in September 2020. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

After months and months of safety complaints from neighbors, homeless encampments in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood will be cleared out Monday.

Right now, RVs and tents are lined up on West Green Lake Way, but the people living there are being asked to leave.

Should Seattle take a traffic lane for an outer loop at Green Lake?

An advocate for the homeless told KIRO 7 TV he believes the city is trying to rush this process.

“We have to start with a legitimate outreach that makes the kind of connection that can’t happen over a period of days and blitzing folks with a bunch of outreach workers at the last minute,” he said.

But the mayor’s office says they have done several months of outreach. Only 15 people took up their offers for other shelter. City staff posted notices at the park on Saturday, warning that any remaining belongings have to be removed by Monday. Crews will also be clearing a nearby camp at Woodland Park.

“Patience? Warnings? Let me give you some numbers. … The Seattle Fire Department, when responding to a fire under I-5 at Mercer Street, just as an area, in 2019, they responded to 540 fires. In 2020, they responded to 849 fires. Y’all ready for 2021? — 1,371 fires that they have responded to,” KIRO Radio host Gee Scott said. “You want to talk about patience? Ladies and gentlemen, what are we doing here?”

“I want to give credit. It’s taken too long and the city had always used the pandemic as the excuse. Well, it looks like the pandemic is going to keep going for a while, but I’m glad to see that some movement is happening,” host Ursula Reutin said. “They’ve been given a lot of notice. I don’t buy this idea that they’re suddenly caught off guard. And I’m glad they’re trying to find more shelter for the folks who are willing to take it and, again, if you’re not, then I’m sorry.”

“I don’t think that just because you are not willing to go somewhere else, you should be allowed to continue doing what is not healthy for you or for your neighbors,” she added. “And about the fires, I mean, there’s been explosions and fires in this Green Lake encampment. Also the one in Ballard.”

Ursula said the city needs to start looking into what’s happening the freeway encampments again. She thinks part of the problem with the encampments near I-5 is that no one wants to take responsibility.

“Whether it’s what’s happening in the city of Olympia, what’s happening in Tacoma, what’s happening in Seattle, the cities are taking responsibility,” she said. “But I-5 — who’s responsible, and what’s happening?”

“It’s like when my grandma used to come in and say, ‘Who made this mess?’ and my cousins look at me, I look at them, and everybody’s pointing at each other,” Gee said. “That’s what’s happening with I-5.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee & Ursula: Someone has to take responsibility to fix encampments