SEATTLE — A homeless camp growing next to Seattle's Green Lake is causing concern and fear for people living near the park, and neighbors blame a road closure for part of the problem.
West Green Lake Way North has been closed for about a year, first because of construction and then as a Stay Healthy Street created in response to the pandemic.
The road provides access to parking lots inside the park and connects neighborhoods in the area.
Some residents say the city is purposely keeping the road closed to hide the camp from the public.
"Drugs, prostitution, crime all night. You name it, it's here," said one resident who prefers not to be identified out of fear.
Comments on an online petition to clean up the park echo the sentiment of trash and violence.
Other residents like Shana Kelly, who started another online petition to open the road, said the two issues are not connected.
"The city had other streets closed during the pandemic for social distancing, and I don't think there's homeless camps there," said Kelly, who admits the Green Lake camp is a problem.
Kelly said she doesn't allow her child to run around the park alone.
"I hope city council will look to the camp next. Neighbors are upset about both issues and we're just trying to keep them separate to tackle them with the focus and attention they deserve," she said.
Kelly is focused on the road closure, advocating for local businesses hurt by the lack of traffic and parking.
"11,000 vehicles used this road. Our businesses are suffering. We've heard youth sports enrollment is down because people don't have enough places to park," she said.
Other advocates like neighbor Trip Allen said the homeless camp is largely RVs taking over parking lots that should be open for everyone, including accessible parking.
Seattle Department of Transportation said it plans to reopen West Greenlake Way North early this fall and is working with the Seattle Parks and Recreation to increase access to parking lots, but residents aren't convinced.
"We want a date so we can hold the city accountable, and we want the 72-hour parking laws to be enforced," said Kelly.