Neighbors want Rainier Avenue homeless camp crackdown

KING 5's Natalie Swaby reports.

Some refer to the homeless encampment along Rainier Avenue South and Interstate 90 in Seattle as Freedom Hill. However, homeowners and tenants across the street say what's happening in the area is making them feel trapped.

They say as the camp site grows, so do concerns about safety.

Kelley Meister has a front row view of the tents on the hill. 

"About three years ago, maybe there would be one or two tents across the street. Then really in this last year and a half, I would say it has just exponentially grown," said Meister.

John Doerschuk, a senior property manager for Seavest Realty, says he sees it growing every day. He partially blames the growth on the city's sweep earlier this month of "The Field," a homeless encampment in SODO. Doerschuk says since that March day, the site near Rainier Avenue South and I-90 has multiplied, creating a mess.

"If you go up there you find feces, you find needles. We know of, you've read of, you hear about, the illegal criminal element that runs under the cover in those camps," said Doerschuk.

He recently wrote a four-page letter to city leaders, calling for illegal camps to be shut down. And this is not the first time he's spoken up.

"I contact council people. I contact city officials. And they are 'working on it.' Well, how many years are they going to continue to work on it?" asked Doerschuk.

He says it is costing his company thousands of dollars in security and cleanup fees. He adds that he also receives regular complaints from tenants.

"You are paying really high property taxes. And I'm all for helping the homeless, absolutely, but I just think the city is enabling the situation by allowing the camps," Meister said.

"The city is aware of this location and will be assessing the situation to determine where it fits into our schedule of sites prioritized for cleanup," said Julie Moore with the City of Seattle.

Neighbors say they don't just want a cleanup. They want the city to not allow illegal camping along Rainier Avenue South.

Copyright 2017 KING


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