Homeless campers return to Burke-Gilman Trail in Wallingford

Mar 8, 2017, 5:22 AM | Updated: 9:14 am
homeless camps, homeless campers...
Unclaimed items left along the Burke-Gilman Trail near Gas Works Park in Seattle. (MyNorthwest)

One month after they were evicted, homeless campers have returned to a stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.

Neighbors have complained to the city, which has started its encampment process all over again.

Related: People Power created the Burke-Gilman Trail

“Generally, if campers repopulate an area that has been cleared, it is considered a new encampment,” said Julie Moore with the City of Seattle. “This location was added to our encampment list (Tuesday) …”

While focus has been on Seattle’s SoDo homeless encampments lately, the issue of camping in public right of ways continues elsewhere in town, in less visible areas. The camp along Burke-Gilman Trail is one example. It’s also an example of how difficult the encampment issue can be in Seattle. If you sweep one camp, it could pop up elsewhere or return later.

Homeless campers along the Burke-Gilman Trail

In January, city crews found the area along the trail torn up and littered with trash and human waste. One camper even dug into an embankment to erect a plywood structure. One side of the structure had an 8-foot drop to the ground and required crews to use harnesses to access the campsite. According to the Wallyhood blog, the trash and tents disappeared after the crews did their work. But the same neighbors are noticing it’s all back.

The blog reports:

Between Stoneway and I-5 all of the tents have appeared back in the same locations …

I was impressed with the camper nearest to Stone Way. I saw him shoveling out several walkways to his tent and a trash bin is onsite. I think I’m bothered more by the litter than the down on their luck campers. I’ve seen volunteers host litter pick ups in this area but they seem a waste of time.

Moore said that the city will treat the encampments according to Seattle guidelines. Essentially, the campsites are assessed and prioritized. If it is determined that they have to go, campers will be given 72-hours notice while the Navigation Team works with them.

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Homeless campers return to Burke-Gilman Trail in Wallingford