By Patricia Fong
As many of us know, there is now an unauthorized tent encampment that has once again sprung up along Jackson Street under the freeway next to the InterIm parking lot. The campers are spreading out onto the sidewalk, obstructing pedestrian egress.
They have accumulated trash and possessions that have spread beyond their tents and tarps, and are blocking the pedestrian right-of-way. I know that the City has paused ‘sweeps’ due to COVID-19 concerns and that the City Navigation team that carried out the ‘sweeps’ has been dismantled.
I am asking the various social service organizations in the CID to urge the Seattle City Council to remove these encampments.
Nevertheless, it must be understood that containing the camps leaves a potential COVID-19 problem right on the doorstep of the Chinatown-International District (CID). As far as I know, there has been no testing and there has not been any sanitation stations made available to people here.
Overall as the photos show, there are concerning sanitation concerns that these unauthorized camps present. This is unacceptable and intolerable. The CID is not a dump for the City’s unsheltered population problem. Moreover, it is unfair that the City allows this to happen. We all know that there are no constituents who are able to speak for themselves inasmuch as they are immigrants and/or non-English-speaking. This is the other side of the story: a population who is elderly and now at risk of exposure to a possible COVID-19 hot spot.
I am asking the various social service organizations in the CID to urge the Seattle City Council to remove these encampments. If the City is unable to remove these unauthorized campers—and the City must do so immediately—they should at least, in the interim, provide a sanitation station for hand washing, pick up the trash, and enforce the pedestrian right-of-way immediately. The campers must receive notice of removal and be offered another place to camp.
I repeat: what the City does not want to spread is now being confined to the CID without mitigating measures such as sanitation and COVID-19 checks. This represents a serious health risk to the CID community, most of whom are elderly.
I am also including photos of trash and graffiti that has unfortunately become a part of the CID. I am a life-long resident of Seattle and have come to the CID for years. I have never seen the CID become so degraded: homeless encampments left by default by the City, trash, graffiti, the mass proliferation of ‘massage parlors’ in Little Saigon, and trash and graffiti in Little Saigon.
Another problem is loitering and the proliferation of people selling things on the sidewalk on the corner of Jackson and 12th. A police officer who, for a few days, was parked there doing surveillance told me people were selling stolen meat to the Chinese Noodle House (Hue Ky Mi Gia) and using the money to front heroin right on that corner. Since then, that corner has only gotten worse. Here is another uncontrolled disease hot spot. This corner attracts residents of the failed City Navigation Center up the street.
In summary, the progressive degradation of Seattle’s only continuous immigrant community and historically protected area is intolerable and unacceptable and must be immediately addressed and resolved.
We have public safety, public health, and sanitation concerns that must be addressed. We have an unmitigated COVID-19 hot spot right in the CID. I am calling on the social service organizations that serve the CID to work together and work with the City Council and mayor to resolve these concerns.