Aurora Avenue business owner fed up with tents, RVs, prostitutes

Mar 30, 2018, 1:58 PM | Updated: 6:35 pm
aurora avenue, RVs...
RVs parked at a vacant Sam's Club off North Aurora Avenue. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)
LISTEN: Aurora Avenue business owner fed up with tents, RVs, prostitutes

When Dutton Clarke noticed a homeless tent in his parking lot off of Aurora Avenue, he decided to help the campers out.

“Well, that was a big mistake,” Clarke told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

RELATED: What is stifling solutions to Seattle’s homelessness problem?

Clarke owns Stereo Warehouse, which neighbors a vacant Sam’s Club lot where RVs have recently parked at.  When the tent showed up, Clarke noticed a man walking around and called the police to kick them off the private property.

“When they were packing up, this lady stuck her head out of the tent,” Clarke said. “We thought, ‘What the heck?’ We talked to them and he said, ‘This is my wife.’”

Clarke told them to stop packing. He said he would help the couple any way he could, and offered them access to his bathroom. It didn’t take long, however, for him to regret his charity.

“Turns out, the woman was a prostitute on Aurora,” Clarke said. “Then a couple more tents showed up. So we kicked them out of there. It took us two hours to clean up all the hypodermic needles and the garbage they left. And they had an extension cord running 300 feet to the neighbor’s outside plug!”

RVs at Sam’s Club

A group of RVs recently set up on a vacant Sam’s Club lot off Aurora Avenue, near Clarke’s business. He says it wasn’t unexpected. City officials have since moved the RVs off the lot. But for Clarke, it’s just another day in Seattle with drugs, prostitution, and garbage — and the city does little about it.

Complaints lead to order to clear homeless RVs, debris from vacant Seattle lot

“(The RVs) throw garbage everywhere,” he said. “They’re big eyesores. There’s no sanitation. The serious part is that they come out at night and scavenge. You can’t leave anything of value anywhere outside; it’s gone the next day.”

“The motor homes have been in that area a long time,” Clarke said. “They don’t start. They tie ropes to them and pull them to get away from parking enforcement. It’s incredible, the garbage. There’s prostitution and drugs coming out of those things. You got to remember, these aren’t the 10 or 5 percent (of homeless people) who would like to be helped and find a job. These people are professional vagabonds. They want this lifestyle. They love it. And they are just looking for a free ride.”

Aurora Avenue: Homelessness, prostitution, drugs

Clarke says that the RVs have likely moved to a nearby residential street. But he expects to eventually see them again. The atmosphere on the North Seattle stretch of Aurora Avenue has grown more toxic in recent years. Clarke said he has contacted the city about it, but he ends up being the one cleaning it up.

“We’re sick and tired of picking up hypodermic needles on our property … and the condoms!” Clarke said. “I mean, they don’t even do anything about the prostitutes. We have a family business. It’s embarrassing that our customers have to dodge prostitutes to get into our parking lot. Dude, they are all over the place.”

“You call the cops on them, they come out and say, ‘Look, the prosecutor won’t prosecute them,’” he said. “They’re horrible. It’s always the same group of girls. There are usually six or seven of them. Then they go for a couple days and another group of six come out. But they are always in a group. And they are out there from sun up to sun down, through rain, on a snowy day. They are hard-working girls.”

“I grew up in Seattle and it’s sad that they ruined this city that I loved,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

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Aurora Avenue business owner fed up with tents, RVs, prostitutes