Resident Wants City To Control Panhandlers, Trash On Off-Ramps
by Jack Mayne
Trash on Southwest 128th Street ramps to and from the 509 and the questionable panhandler types who leave it has caused nearby resident Mark Zink to get out his broom and rake, but now he wants some cleanup help from the Burien City Council.
At the Dec. 12 council meeting, Zink said ramps are becoming home to a regular crew.
“We now have them setting up couch cushions under the freeway so they can hang out all day, every day,” he had written in a letter to the council, which included photos. “In one photo, you can notice they walk up and down the freeway off ramp panhandling. This is illegal to be on the off-ramp but (it is) not on the sidewalk under current rules.”
He noted what many Burien residents have seen, that panhandlers leave trash and are usually on the Southwest 148th ramps, also.
He said he has asked for something to be done for years, but to no avail.
“Will the council make a no loitering rule near off-ramps?” Zink asked. “My neighbors and I have suffered with these people and the beer cans and garbage they leave throughout the neighborhood for years now,” Zink said.
“I have volunteered in this neighborhood for years trying to clean it up and spent thousands of hours as Public Works and the Parks Department can verify. I need help. I am tired of picking up after them and don’t feel like I should have to. Please take action now.”
Zink has received no response from the City Council or city staff.
So why does he spend this own time cleaning up the mess?
“The reason I do this volunteer work is that it is healthy for me to give back to my community and gives me a sense of accomplishment,” Zink said in an e-mail. “I also like to see nice things even if I have to help make that happen. Public works and the parks departments do not have the money or the manpower to keep up on all the things that need to be done in this area as far as cleaning graffiti, picking up trash etc.”
He says Burien Police have been very helpful “but we still have a problem with the transients who tend to bring illegal activities with them. Drugs, alcohol, sleeping in the parks, leaving bottles, cans, hypodermic needles, used condoms or whatever else they don’t want anymore.”
Zink is finishing his associate of arts degree at Highline Community College.
His wife, Colleen, is a web editor at kirotv.com, the web site for KIRO 7 Eyewitness News. She says she is proud of all Zink’s volunteer work and “agrees that changes need to be made with the panhandlers because they make Burien look bad.”