[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written and submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]
To those concerned citizens with tunnel vision: when you talk about vulnerable and marginalized people, I hope that you are also sympathetic to other groups that fall into this description.
How about the small business owners who are trying to eke out a living and are now faced with a tent city on their doorsteps?
Senior citizens are more vulnerable now because they may encounter drug users on their way to dine out or do their daily errands.
Are you also concerned about people in the area who are paying steep rents and wake up during the night to hear homeless folks screaming and arguing outside their windows? I wouldn’t venture out in the evening in this town if you paid me.
The litter is shameful and appalling after an evening and many times there is a waste receptacle close by. Quite often the steps by Big Lots are impassable during the day because homeless are doing drugs and ranting there.
Compassion is commendable, but please save some for the aforementioned people as well.
– Kathy McNee
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That letter is truely representative of the issues, and not even all of them brought about by that or any encampment. The general public, businesses and residents make and pay for this City, certainly not a lot full of squatters strung out on drugs or affected by mental issues.
I can attest this is all true. Also true is the homelessness around our city as well. I am sure there are many people that agree with this letter but do not want to comment. I’m of the age I do not feel comfortable in some of these situations myself. We shouldn’t be forced to be put in these positions, any more than the homeless are. Allowing a homeless program to exist or come up with knee-jerk solutions without proper guidance and security of the residents, is not a solution at all. It’s poor planning by city officials.
Most of those who write these letters are very concerned as I am. Many times, while shopping at the Safeway on 148th, I was approached by a marginalized individual for some money for the bus. I knew where the money would go so I never gave anyone cash. We all agree that there are issues but, no one ever comes up with a solution that will work for the citizenry, business owners or politicians.
This letter seems to presuppose that the challenges of society sprung into existence with the establishment of the tent city. Senior citizens might encounter drug users any number of places, the vast majority of whom won’t be homeless. I guess the implication is that the homeless drug user is somehow more degenerate than the closet drug user, or the recreational drug user, or the prescription drug abuser.
Personally I think senior citizens face a greater hazard from a lack of safe pedestrian pathways and poor crosswalk compliance than they do from the tent encampment.
I agree that small business owners are underrepresented stakeholders in the discussion. I disagree however that disbanding the tent encampment will resolve their woes. What SB owners need, from my perspective, is a safe, vibrant, inviting shopping district supported by a connected and relevant chamber.
We seem fixated on, the community, finding solutions for the unhoused. The reality is though that the unhoused are part of our community. You cannot force anyone to conform to your concept of normalcy, you can however remove barriers to success and reform a system that criminalizes poverty and inhibits re-habilitation( or habilitation more accurately).
While I agree with you on a safe environment… How do you accomplish that while allowing an encampment within steps of kids going to martial arts, the library, the town square, or those shopping at local businesses? You cannot speak to this unless you experience it yourself. Owning a business (as I do) in these last few years and experiencing homeless coming in and threatening your safety should allow that opinion and voice, but not to those who don’t experience it first hand. While I have huge compassion and have personally taken my family and donated time to whatever we can to local homeless encampments. I wholeheartedly disagree about encampments within proximity to senior citizens, small businesses and children services.
Rory, are a property tax paying home owner in the city of Burien? Do you even live in Burien or the state of Washington for that matter? Have you ‘personally’ taken a poll of the Burien senior citizen population as to how safe they feel with the vagrancy and drug use all around them? If not then you have no meaningful ‘perspective’ or opinion on this subject. Is it the queen’s ‘We’ you are referring to being fixated? What is your solution? Burien used to have a safe, vibrant, inviting shopping district before all of this PC enabling started. These “Unhoused” individuals are not a part of the Burien community, they are a blight on it and it is not ok for them to squat on property that they do not own or pay anything for use of. This is not about poverty or homelessness it is about addiction and mental health issues.
I never said that removing the tent city would solve all of the small business owner’s problems. I have been a small business owner. The tents are another unnecessary problem that they don’t need.
Unfortunately, while we probably all agree that the homeless are part of our community the issue at hand is our safety. There’s just no way around it. I am a small business owner and I have had several experiences feeling extremely vulnerable and afraid. To be quite blunt having someone tap on your store windows with a machete or having someone come into your store with rebar standing over you is an issue trying to conduct business no matter any angle you look at it. It affects the people that want to come in and shop. It affects the hours that you work and when you are alone. It affects how comfortable you feel trying to put on a brave face in front of customers and stand up to those sitting in front of your store that scares them away. Small business owners are also survivors and trying to stay alive. Let’s consider that at all times. It’s what keeps Burien alive and thriving. Can you imagine 152nd without?
There is a way around it, don’t allow it!
Kathy, thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts down. I completely understand and hope people can see that these years of uncontrolled immigration has had on our communities. It is an uncomfortable situation but rents have gone way up because we have more people. Which means people on the margins have no place to go. Supply and demand. Having an open border has also created sustained pathways for drug cartels to bring drugs into our communities. My question is why don’t we try and solve the problems at the source? Because the media tells us Orange Man bad?? Every day I see the things that Kathy talks about and much worse yet all we talk about is band aids. We need controlled immigration not massive cheap labor or new voters for one party. We need to stop the drugs from flowing freely into our communities. America is worth saving.
Burien citizens need to step up to the plate and run for city council positions. And then get people out to vote. Shockingly very few people vote in city elections. Personally, I plan to actively help with money and time to vote in new council members that add a different perspective to the current council.
Linda Akey has some good, common sense ideas. I am sure that she would be happy to hear from you. She was at the Maverick Apts. for a meet and greet and will be returning soon. If you are interested, please contact me. Kathy McNee
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