Rantz: Mayor Harrell ok with homeless tool he threatened Seattle biz for using?

Jul 6, 2023, 5:55 PM

MLB All-Star Week...

T-Mobile Park hanging above the SODO neighborhood (Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell criticized and threatened businesses using eco-blocks to stop the homeless from leaving their broken-down RVs in their parking spaces. But for MLB All-Star Week, Harrell seems okay with using dozens of them for the exact same reason.

As the homelessness crisis surged thanks to lax policies from the Seattle City Council and Mayor’s office, desperate businesses turned to eco-blocks. These concrete blocks were strategically placed to prevent RVs from taking up residency around businesses, stealing parking spots from customers, and scaring people away from the business. Often, these RVs are dangerous to live in and allow drug-addicted or criminal homeless to hide without being hassled by police.

But when businesses started placing eco-blocks around their stores, Harrell was not pleased.

More from Jason Rantz: Seattle cleans up the city for MLB All-Star Week, not for us

Before MLB All-Star Week, Seattle Mayor opposed eco-blocks

Harrell said, “eco-blocks are just not the way” to deal with the homeless crisis. He vowed to ticket any business responsible for illegally placing the concrete blocks to thwart homeless RVs.

“I’m out there talking to small business and talking to homeless advocates about that issue (and) we do want them removed,” he told KOMO-TV in August 2022. “We will monitor and regulate, and again we have SDOT [Seattle Department of Transportation] working feverishly on this issue.”

The mayor has apparently had a change of heart.

With the MLB All-Star Week slated to begin July 7, someone worked feverishly to place eco-blocks around the stadium to prevent RVs from coming back to the neighborhood. They line the streets around the stadium in the SODO neighborhood, a sign that Harrell acknowledges they are, in fact, a way to help address the homelessness crisis. If it was a problem, he’d call them out.

But as has become standard routine, Harrell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Seattle Department of Transportation, however, proactively reached out to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to say they didn’t place them and have no idea who did. When I asked if they’d be removed or if whomever is responsible will be ticketed but did not get a response by the time I submitted this story.

City addressing problems to impress MLB, not us

The city has been clearing homeless encampments and tents, painting over graffiti, unveiling new art, and cleaning sidewalks and streets. But they’re doing it to impress the MLB, not city residents and visitors.

While some progress has been made in cleaning up the downtown area, Harrell’s administration has worked slowly and mostly behind the scenes so as not to upset an activist base that opposes sweeps. With anti-sweep councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda, Dan Strauss, and Andrew Lewis all up for re-election, Harrell likely wants to avoid his attempts to revitalize downtown from getting too political. Yet now, the city has escalated the clean-ups because the city wants not just to impress MLB but signal to other leagues and events that they should consider Seattle in the future.

More major events in Seattle would obviously be positive. But Harrell’s reluctance to act with public urgency on the crisis has meant progress is so slow that there’s been enough time for the homeless to move back into areas where they were previously removed. While downtown is nowhere near as bad as it once was, homeless addicts began to creep back into the area with little pushback.

Will the mayor choose to use the MLS All-Star Week as the start of a new and urgent strategy to clean up the city and address the homelessness crisis? Or will he go back to tiptoeing around the problem once the league’s biggest players and executives leave town?

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our CitiesSubscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Mayor Harrell ok with homeless tool he threatened Seattle biz for using?