Resident Wants City To Control Panhandlers, Trash On Off-Ramps

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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, 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.”

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55 Responses to “Resident Wants City To Control Panhandlers, Trash On Off-Ramps”
  1. mike says:

    They have been at the 128th ramp for years. Why? Because people give them cash. I refuse. Why should I get up at 4am and work all day then give them money tax free? If no one gave, they would leave. It looks like they treat this as a job. They’re there everyday. Probably have a nice place y’all are paying for.
    Mark, have you ever talked to them about cleaning up their own trash?

    The ones at 148th are very aggressive and ignore the signs. Scary.

    • Eric says:

      There but for the grace of god, go I.

      • mark says:

        God also says get off your butt and do something about your problem not stand on the corner for years on end and wrecking peoples neighborhood. Giving these people drugs and alcohol is not helping them and that is what you are doing when you give them money. I see them buying it everyday and smoking or shooting it. When you give them money you are putting my family and countless others in danger.

  2. napavine says:

    “Welcome to Burien, Home of the homeless”. Has a nice ring to it.

  3. mark says:

    I actually have talked to the regulars several times about keeping the neighborhood clean and that usually works for a day or less and its right back to the same old thing.

  4. mike says:

    How about taking a sign and asking people NOT to give them money while standing next the panhandlers? I bet then they would leave.

  5. Burien Dude says:

    Maybe the council should make it illegal to give money to panhandelers. $100 Fine?

  6. Neal S. says:

    The other day as I was waiting for the light, I watched two panhandlers get into an argument over who’s turn it was to hold the sign. They started pushing each other until one panhandler took out his cell phone to call the police.

  7. Jody says:

    Mark, I live near this off-ramp and have seen these guys for years! I’d be happy to walk around the ‘hood picking up garbage if you want some company…I feel like its really gone downhill in this area and these guys do contribute a bit to the poor image of the neighborhood.

  8. mark says:

    Start anytime,god knows we need more volunteers around here. But until the problem is resolved for good then we are really just putting a band aid on it. I really don’t want to see this neighborhood again like it was when I started on this. We need to do whatever we can to make this a comfortable place for kids and families and stop coddling these people who have no interest in the well being of our community. I could go on and on about what I see these guys doing around here,and they look at me always like “Hah there is nothing you can do about it.” We need the help of our city government or we will always get what we have been getting and nothing more. Personally I see this town as on the cusp of great things but the momentum needs to keep going or it will not happen.

    • devilsadvocate says:

      I don`t post much on here, mainly just lurk, but I have to tell you Mark, I have lived here for over 30 years and I have seen you maybe 3 times out there and 2 of those times were just the other day. It looks better than it did because the parks dept has been coming down there and a volunteer group on occasion. You really haven`t done sh*& outside of blowing your own horn.

      “I really don’t want to see this neighborhood again like it was when I started on this. ”
      Well, I hate break it to you my friend, but…
      Sitting in your armchair watching from across the pond calling the cops every time a car pulls over there doesn`t hardly constitute a good deed as much as it does harassment . You really want to do something, make your left hand turn a little sharper.
      I do know of one of your neighbors who prefers to remain nameless who goes down there and tells them to just get your %^@$ ass out of here or I`ll get your ass out and then does. That my friend has cut back more on the vagrancy than anything.
      I know this because I have gone with him on more than once. I was a little nervous and apprehensive but felt amazingly safe. But that`s probably because one time when
      they did, he did.

      • mark says:

        Look I am not here to argue with my neighbors. I am trying to get the city council to help us. That includes you. Yes there have been 4 volunteer clean-ups at Arbor Lake Park and there are numerous throughout the city all the time run through the parks dept. as well as the yearly clean-sweep. Sorry you havent seen me when I hand delivered the flyer to your door. Really wasnt looking for your approval. I am still gonna volunteer my regular 5 or more hours a week and maybe I will see you sometime. As for when I started I was picking up drug bags and beer cans about every few feet throughout this neighborhood. I was amazed at how little people cared and how much needed to be done. Its not as bad now but i am still finding this stuff everywhere in this neighborhood.

      • Deezer says:

        As far as these guys being “homeless” I know for a FACT that some of them are not. I have seen one guy in particular at Fred Meyer with his wife or girlfriend. We were in the pet food isle. His cart was so full of groceries I couldn’t believe it. The comment he made was “that’s 40 bucks right there” as he heaped boxes of canned dog food on his cart. I was so curious that I waited for them to come out to see if they were in a car. They were. He got into a truck that is newer and nicer than what my husband drives. He lives about a block from us. Now, of course he has to eat and I am not begrudging that. I’m sure he has a food stamp card. Seems to be doing quite well. But don’t stand there with a sign EVERY MORNING saying that you’re HOMELESS when clearly, you’re not. And then I see you with a telltale black bag with some 411 beer from the minimart. Get out of my city, get a job and get off the sauce.

  9. jimmy says:

    i feel bad for the homeless people but i never give them cash but if you want to give them something to eat like a apple or something that fine if you give them cash they will buy beer they cant buy beer with a apple if you want try get rid of them watch where they go at night to sleep and if its in a park or on someone property call the cops see if they will take care of them it work to get rid of the guy that was living at arbor lake a couple years ago if anything the cops will send them in the direction of a shelter unless if they have any warrants then they will pick them up and parks close at night or dusk so they will get kick out of any park in the area if not arrested

    • elizabeth2 says:

      Jimmy – I agree with you about not giving money, but I have to tell you a story about what happened when I offered food. We had been approached by a man who said he was homeless but I did not give him money.

      It was on a hot summer day adn I felt bad, wanted to do something. I went to a nearby Burger King, bought a meal and a big cold drink. My teenage son walked it over to him and explained that we had noticed how hot and tired he looked. My son offered him to meal and he refused it!

      So much for offering what we think they might need – they want CASH!

      I will never offer again to provide food and I certainly will not offer cash. I will continue to donate directly to known charities and perform anonymous and random acts of kindness where I see a need.

      • Eric says:

        I have heard these stories before, so what if through a religious commitment (yes, the homeless can believe in God), meat is turned down. So after than no need to help those most in need?

        If someone brought food over to you, would you eat it? Or would you worry they had put something in it? Many people are cruel to the homeless. They are often the objects of violence and they are even killed, but no need to help because one person turned down a burger.

        • elizabeth2 says:

          Eric: If you read carefully, there was also a large, cold drink offered on a very hot day. If one has to worry that the drink has been tainted (no more than 20 feet from the Burger King from which it was purchased) then this is indeed a sad world. If the homeless man were sinply a vegetarian, he could have still had a cold drink without the burger.

          There was no suggestion that the homeless or hungry be neglected or ignored just because of this man’s response. The focus instead has been moved to groups which are legal charities which provide and distribute aid. That is the method we choose to use to ensure that those who are truly in need and working through organizations receive assistance.

          We do not belong to any group that supports, advocates, or condones violence or killing of homeless as you mention. We are just adjusting how our support and aid are directed so that it maximizes the number of people who can be helped efficiently.

    • Feral Dog says:

      It was your neighbor who`s house you walk by every time you go fishing that ran that guy (and his girlfriend`s) asses out of there. And the other one that tried to turn the park into his encampment. Amazing what a few well placed words of wisdom will do to boost someones motivation to move.

  10. Chuck says:

    Its the same with the bus stop right in fron of my house on 116th S. They leave beer bottles, all kinds of fast food bags, and even a condom or two. Before we became ” Burien” the county used to come by every couple of weeks with a crew and a street sweeper to help keep the area clean. Burien will do what it usually does for this kind of problem……nothing unless they can come up with a way to tax it or collect a fee.

  11. Wulfie says:

    I live off of 128th and these guys have caused nothing but problems for years. The other thing they like to do is to hit the cross walk button when the light changes to shorten the light so people have more time to read thier signs and give them money.

    Like someone else said. Stop giving them money and they will stop standing there. If it was not a good place to get money, they would not be there.

  12. Theresa says:

    I’ll go a step further and say that I think the City of Burien should make being homeless illegal. Five years ago we didn’t have this problem. This was about the only positive thing Burien had going for it. Now we have gangs AND panhandling homeless people. As you drive into Burien from the freeway, (where most visitors do), under the ‘Welcome to Burien’ sign near Rite Aid is a bench which usually has a homeless person sitting on it. At times, there are several. There are shelters and programs these people can utilize, but they don’t want to abide by the rules that these shelters have, (namely, no alcohol or drugs). I now get gas and do my shopping outside of Burien because I don’t want to be harassed for money. They wait until you’re most vulnerable, like pumping your gas or loading your groceries into your car so that you can’t get away from them. They also tie up traffic when some buffoon stops in the middle of the road to give them money. We have tried to make Burien a better place to live and visit, but as long as we have this problem, we will continue to be seen as ‘the ghetto’. Many of the homeless are mentally and physically ill. These are the people I have sympathy for and have no problem with. I do have a problem with someone asking me for the money I work for all day just because they have given up on life, or want to get drunk or high. These people do nothing for the community, (in fact they harm it), and we should not tolerate it in our city. I have the right to walk in my city without being hassled and frightened by strange, crazy and aggressive men. From articles in this blog, we’ve already seen that the police can do little when citizens are being harassed. Unless you’ve been assaulted or had property damaged or stolen, you’re S.O.L.

    • Wulfie says:

      Even if you DO get robbed, they don’t do squat! We got robbed by a scrap metal collector while I was away at my grandfather’s funeral. Our security cameras got a great shot both full face and profile, The cops pretty much told us Oh Well.

    • devilsadvocate says:

      Hahhahah, Theresa, you really think most people want to be homeless? Burien should enact a law making homelessness illegal?. Right.

    • TcB says:

      That’s a pretty radical idea, making it illegal to “be homeless”. Have you been hanging out with Kim Jong Un recently? A lot of the homeless have mental health issues. I think it was sometime in the 80’s when al the mental health hospital funding was drastically cut and the homeless population started to swell. You get what you pay for one way or another.

  13. Jack says:

    I agree with all of the above comments and can only wonder why we cannot make panhandling /loitering illegal in Burien?

  14. mark says:

    The drinking at Right Aid really bugs me too. I have never seen anybody sitting on those benches below the Welcome to Burien sign except transients drinking beer. I saw a cop get in her car the other day and didn’t even care the guy was holding a beer in his hand at this bench. I guess its just ignored. Its really sad because it really wouldn’t take much to get rid of this most obvious bad behavior in our town. A No Loitering rule at the freeways would get rid of a large amount of this.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Elizabeth 2 – I can’t speak for the man that your son approached with food but I just want to let you know I’ve had the opposite experience. Although it was in downtown Seattle, twice now I’ve asked people who asked me for money if they would accept food and they’ve said yes. I’m going to start doing it more often. I feel in this country no one should be hungry. And if they say no, then I feel no guilt in passing them by.

  16. mike says:

    RE: A No Loitering rule at the freeways would get rid of a large amount of this.
    They have those signs at the 148th on ramp to 518. It hasn’t helped. They are still there (until a cop shows up) and very aggressive. The Burien city council won’t do anything unless we pay more taxes. Burien already contracts with the KC Sheriff. The KCSO can’t or wont do anything about burglaries or drinking in public, so I’m sure panhandlers aren’t very high on their list either. Stop with the free cash and cleaning up after them. They will leave. Or put up some signs way up the ramps. Or go stand next to them with a sign that says “Don’t pay the BUMS”

    • mark says:

      The problem also is we have 2 different jurisdictions. The freeway and ramps belong to the state patrol and everything else is Burien. So since the State Patrol doesn’t go to the off ramps too often we need Burien to make a rule and let them enforce it.

  17. mark says:

    The city of Bellevue has already enacted all of these loitering laws a few years back after they were bombarded with the same problem. All the council need do is research how they did it to find how to enact rules here. They have already done the legal footwork.

    • TcB says:

      Haha it’s common knowledge that the Belleuve cops grab their homeless and drive them to the nearest city limit where they drop them off, usually Seattle.

      • Theresa says:

        Well, whatever it takes. They most likely take them there because that’s where most of the public services are. There IS help out there for those who really want it and are willing to abide by the rules. If someone was willing to give me a place to sleep, free meals, and access to public services, I would do whatever they asked of me. I’m not talking about homeless veterans or the mentally/physically ill. I’m talking about those who take the easy way out. The ones who want $ but won’t take food, and claim they’re unemployed but really don’t want to work. We make it easy for these people to be where they are today. This city is leaps and bounds ahead of others in the country in regards to public services. Combine this with the dipsh*ts that give them $, and we will never get them out of here, or empower them to want to be respectable members of society.

        • TcB says:

          Theresa – “Well, whatever it takes”

          You seriously espouse having our cops drive homeless to the city limits and dumping them?

          I think if Burien is continuing to grow Health services (Mental Health, Medical services, etc) then we should expect to see this as a result of our success. It’s a side effect really.

  18. Hotrodgal says:

    As I see it, there are two sides to the problem…actually three.
    I have seen a couple guys at the 128th on-ramp that I recognize
    as panhandlers who used to haunt Boulevard Park close to 20
    years ago…older and better dressed, they have lost the “out of
    gas/need to buy bus ticket” lie and gone straight to parking at
    the freeway.
    Second scenario is vagrants who have wandered in from other
    areas because of Burien’s lush pickings.

    Third is the truly homeless who would work if the could and
    would go to a shelter if there was room.

    Banning homelessness is not the solution. Improving funding
    for mental health and homeless advocacy would surely help.

    If you must give…give food or better yet, offer employment.

    • Theresa says:

      I agree with you. Donate to our local shelters and services instead of giving handouts. The money is put to much better use, and goes a lot further!

  19. Frank Sykora says:

    When I first moved to Burien, It was only the third runway to worry about. My mom and my neighbors and I too, felt it would not make a better city. I feel in my heart, a safe place for the homeless is a great ideal. Remember the Lora Lake Apts?

  20. TcB says:

    Back in the day we had specific definitions that still apply to this day but aren’t mentioned.
    These definitions are pretty loose so don’t flame me.

    Vagrant – A person without a home who wanders and begs
    (Beggar) Bum – A person without a home who stays in one place and begs
    Hobo – A person without a home who wanders and works by choice for money or food
    Tramp – A person without a home who wanders and works against their will for money or food
    Quite a large number of these people will work but most have problems with mental illness or addiction.
    Interesting bit of trivia, the Nazis forced homeless to wear Black Triangles and they were among the undesirables like Jews, Gypsies and Homosexuals.

    • Deezer says:

      These people are not really homeless for the most part. They are addicts and they are not getting help because they can make enough money panhandling to feed their addiction. We are enabling them to stay sick. While they are sick they are trashing our neighborhoods that are close to the freeways or downtown areas. I talked to a police SGT. who told me “who knew we would need a no loitering law years ago.” Well thats what a city council is for and we need to regulate this crap or move. Personally the later is starting to sound like a really good idea. Most of my decent neighbors already packed up and left. And now their houses are rentals.

      • TcB says:

        I just think if you actually try to pass a law that says being homeless is “illegal” that it will be struck down quick and the city might even get sued. Addicts need rehabilitation to get off the drugs, but I think what a lot of these people want is for them to just be locked up. They’ll come for you next.

        • Ian Gunsul says:

          Maybe it’s time to build a wall around the city with security checkpoints.

        • mark says:

          No loitering around off ramps lawsuit? Give me a break. It would be easy to implement and it would help solve a problem on all sides. Dont think to many property owning or,taxpayers of any kind will be loitering at the freeway. And it is a safety issue as well thats why walking anywhere on the asphalt is illegal and enforced by the state patrol (but you have to call them). These guys jump back to the concrete curb at the 1st sign of a cop because they know the law. These are professional panhandlers with severe addiction problems.

  21. Hotrodgal says:

    I never should have stopped back into this blog today…it’s put me in
    a funk that I could have done without, especially on Christmas Eve.

    I am reading comments from some of you, sitting in your nice, warm
    den, wracking your brains on how obliterate one of Burien’s “blights”.

    Get real folks and have some humanity. Personally, if I was facing
    each night outdoors in cold, nasty weather, I would surely need a
    bottle of thunderbird too. I’m glad I don’t. It’s sad they do.

    If we felt half the outrage for these folks’ welfare that we do for lost
    pets in Burien, we would probably be getting closer to helping out the
    less fortunate amongst us.

    Take action. Write your State and local governments to stop the
    de-funding of our clinics and shelters. Talk to your church and
    community centers to make sure there is a soup kitchen, available
    locally, with adequate resources to lend a hand.

    Offer transportation for those in need and research the local
    charities to see how they can help…Goodwill, St Vinnies, hospitals,
    etc have a lot of free programs and access to resources many of these
    folks may not even know exists.

    Donate even one hour a week to work in the food bank. Stock shelves,
    collect donations, man the phones. It doesn’t take much to help
    impact the needs these selfless organizations struggle with daily.

    For the price of your morning Latte, you can buy enough dollar
    burgers and bottles of Gatorade for 3 or more meals for street people
    who need them so badly.

    None of these things take a whole lot of effort and can make a
    huge impact for the less served of our community.

    If even one of you takes a small part of the above to task, someone
    less fortunate could have a much happier Christmas.
    You don’t even have to open your wallet…just open your heart.

    Now I feel better. Rant off and have a Merry Christmas.

    • mark says:

      I completely agree in all of those services but when I hear from my neighbor down the street today that 3 houses have been broken into by a burgundy van with primer spots that parks in front of peoples houses and a guy sits watch while the other white guy with a grey beard steals your goods and or presents by taking your luggage to cart it off. I have to realize we have to draw a line. I really want to help people and I really want the community to be safe. Merry X-mas.

    • Deezer says:

      Why don’t you get real? If you opened your eyes, you’d know that these people are NOT homeless, have vehicles and are just taking advantage of people’s kindness. So if you want to sit there and preach at us from YOUR nice warm den about how we can help these people, that’s great. You go right ahead. Keep your head in the sand. I know there are some people that need help, but the ones that I see every day and have made it their job are the same ones that live in my neighborhood and leave trash around, drink in public and make Burien look like a craphole. Obviously they are doing pretty well or there wouldn’t be some many here. So feel free to give one of them a ride in your Lexus while you take them down to the food bank. I see them in Fred Meyer but go ahead, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the extra “help.”
      Happy Holidays.

      • Hotrodgal says:

        Nice assumptions.
        My car is surely older than you are and I’ve been looking
        for work for over two years.
        BTW- I’m also on a borrowed computer tonight.
        Just because I can type doesn’t make me an NP
        soccer mom.

        I manage. I ate today. I also dropped off a burger & juice
        to someone who looked like they needed it.

        All I’m saying is that some of the panhandlers may be
        the people who have lost their jobs and homes and
        don’t know where to turn.
        I agree that there’s chronic bums and I don’t like that
        anymore than anyone else but I don’t think it’s right to
        throw all disadvantaged people into the same mold.

        Save your rage for the creeps in the gangs, the thugs
        and drug dealers. Or perhaps you can move to Bellevue.

        If I had known that one compassionate post would have
        caused such a pissin’ match… 🙁


  22. mike says:

    Helping at a shelter or food bank is great. It seems those that go there really do need help. The others that stand at every ramp around every town are the ones that are just scamming. I watched on Thursday and Friday as I drove by the 128th ramp numerous times why people “work” there, because so many people give them handouts. Bags full of stuff and cash. Everytime I drove by. And yes I’m sitting in my nice warm house that I pay for with wages that have taxes taken out of. And I still won’t give them a dime. If you can go to a ramp every day you can sure as he$% go to a job like the rest of us. Happy Festivus.

    • mark says:

      On one of the many times I have asked these panhandlers to keep the neighborhood clean they always refer to this corner as “their office.” It is a scam ,a trick being played on the people who live on the front lines of this B.S and yes I have been standing my ground for 5 years cleaning up around here and if my neighbors and the council dont help us I will move to Bellevue or somewhere that the people stand up for themselves and take pride in their town, the 1st chance I get. This isn’t rocket science if it was kids they would be disciplined and forced to clean-up for restitution but the bleeding heart of Burien will let people use themselves as a doormats and complain they didn’t wipe their feet twice. But the simple fact is some of these people are criminals and they bring their criminal friends and behavior with them into my neighborhood while you sit safe in your cozy part of Burien. And yes I did give them money when I 1st moved here but never again.

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