After the city cleaned up a homeless encampment behind my house six months ago, guess what? The tents have returned, along with a homeless population and more debris a few feet from my backyard.
I live in a modest house in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, across from John Stanford Elementary. My backyard abuts the public land under Interstate 5. I have a tall laurel hedge as a natural barrier to the property, but unfortunately the city is allowing homeless camps to thrive there, in uncomfortable proximity to my house and my neighbors’ backyards.
The homeless campers deposit garbage, used needles and an array of unsanitary debris throughout the property. They help themselves to water from my outdoor faucet and use my property as a shortcut to the street through an opening they cut out in my hedge.
I have confronted campers in my backyard, as they blatantly cut through. Last April, the camp had grown to encompass numerous campers, and heaping garbage strewn about and in piles. I found I had a rat population in my backyard.
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As the problem worsened, I started using a city of Seattle app, Find-It-Fix-It, to report disturbances, as well as my concerns regarding the camp. The accumulation of garbage was disgusting.
Thankfully, in April, the campsite was cleaned up. I watched the work from an upstairs window. I lost track of the number of trucks that hauled garbage away. Several city agencies were involved. It had to have been an expensive operation paid for by taxpayers, no doubt.
My neighbors and I were thankful and relieved that the camp was gone. I felt safe going into my backyard at nighttime. I park my car there, and the campers could observe me through thin areas in my hedge.
Now, six months later, guess what? The tents have returned, along with a homeless population and more debris a few feet from my backyard. The shortcut opening in my hedge has people traipsing through. My privacy is compromised.
I recently was awakened at 2:24 a.m. by a woman yelling from the camp, clearly enraged at someone. And as I write this, the camp is expanding. After it was cleaned up, camping on this property should have been prohibited, with enforcement.
I sensed an attitude of entitlement from one of the campers when he first staked down his tent seven weeks ago. I told him he couldn’t camp in the location. He retorted, “You aren’t the police! I can camp here if I want to!”
The City of Seattle has adopted rules that give the homeless campers several protective rights. It doesn’t matter that they continually disturb my privacy and my peace. Or that they randomly appear in my backyard from their camp. They are deemed a “vulnerable” population. What about my vulnerability, living a few feet away from the camp?
I, the taxpayer, want a clean, relatively peaceful neighborhood, and privacy on my own property. This is no longer what I have.
Mayoral candidate Cary Moon has stated, “We need to understand the homeless plight. They are human and neighbors.”
Yes, they need help, but apparently Moon doesn’t live next to a homeless camp. I do not wish these “neighbors” on anyone.