[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]
Given the Burienwa.gov note about Burien being “a vibrant and creative community, where the residents embrace diversity, celebrate arts and culture, promote vitality, and treasure the environment,” I do not see how the tent city adjacent to the Burien Town Square Dentistry on SW 152nd and 6th Ave SW promotes this optimism.
This tent city needs to be removed and soon for several reasons:
- Public health. There are no sanitation facilities and tent city occupants are already using the space as a public potty, adding to the mix of dog feces and urine. Drug usage has been observed and drug paraphernalia have been dumped around the area. Rain turns this space into a swampy and toxic mess. Home sweet home!
- Public safety. Over the last year, tent city occupants have chased people and threatened them with sticks and violence. Condominiums and apartments have been broken into on multiple occasions. The tent city move from the library to the adjacent Burien Town Square Dentistry property is not going to change behavior.
- Local economy. Small businesses are likely to lose customers, especially in the evening hours. Many people, especially our elderly, are not comfortable walking by a tent city and will vote with their feet and go elsewhere to shop. Friends have told me they are going back to the Burien Library because it feels safer.
- Property values. Consider the broken window theory, wherein visible signs of disorder and misbehavior in an environment encourage further disorder and misbehavior. Expect property values to decline if nearby condominiums, apartments, and small businesses have to put up with observed tent city occupant behaviors such as drug use, yelling and fighting, chasing people walking by, public urination and defecation, among others.
- Public costs. Who pays for their medical costs when tent city occupants overdose or start fires? Who pays to collect their trash, feed them, and clean up after them? Who pays for police responses for tent city problems as well as nearby problems such as breaking and entering, robbery, and such? Who pays? We, the citizens of Burien pay and we pay dearly for this behavior.
- Environment. Given these problems, try selling or renting a nearby condo or renting an apartment in this environment. Who would want one? Who would want to start a small business nearby? Would you accept this environment in your backyard?
A final quote to these comments with a slight paraphrase goes like this:
“We are mad as hell and are not going to take this anymore.”
– David Gould
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I agree with the people above. Why would you move this encampment one block. Someone from Burien council needs to answer the question of who’s picking up after these people and why are we giving them rights when they don’t care. Why don’t you give the neighbors of Burien money for being faithful and caring for their city instead of pampering people that only want to get high. This is clear stupidity and we wonder why so many homeless. If someone wants help all for it – half these people do not and they trash our neighborhoods. Someone needs to be accountable.
So what would you like to do, round them up and shoot them? You obviously don’t want to care for them as human beings.
This response is getting so tired! No one is advocating violence as a solution. What we are seeing is the result of years of progressive policies, so how about you acknowledge that what’s been done has NOT worked? And instead of throwing more taxpayers money at the same failed approach, we need to do something different, and I’m all for giving tent occupants a warm bed, 3 meals a day, and access to a real toilet… it’s called JAIL!
Omg, So you propose jailing people just for being homeless? It’s not a given that all
these people are criminals or even drug addicts. You can’t just incarcerate them blindly. I know people just want the homeless to go away, but they won’t and the problem will just get bigger unless we address the real problems. Do you want to fill our jails with homeless people? Taxpayers would just end up paying for it and when
they get out, will they be any better? I hate the tents too, but humans beings live there, not animals, who probably would be treated better.
Well you got me there! How about we agree to jail the ones that are pooping in the street and smoking fentanyl in the middle of our town? For anyone left who is genuinely working to improve their circumstances, I agree we need to do better and give folks a lifeline rather than let them hide in plain sight like we do today.
Really are you kidding me…if they want help I’m all for it. Majority don’t. Are you cleaning up the needles and bathroom leftovers??? Are they camped by your house? If you got room take them in. I’m all for helping people that want to be helped truly. It’s the others I have a problem with. I had a person parked in front of my house for a minute and the police said sorry they are occupying a car nothing we can do. Do u know how that feels – probably not.
The strip of land west of Burien Town Square is owned by the city. It is not a park. If it was a park then laws would forbid overnight camping. Due to a federal ruling, often called the “Bosie Ruling”, cities must allow camping on cuty property unless their is overnight shelter available in the Vicinity. Therefore, the homeless people have a right to camp on city property weather one likes it or not.
We do need a permanent homeless shelter in Burien, but we don’t have one. Wow, this is painful to watch – two individuals who serve the city, one being Charles Schaefer of the Planning Commission, the other being Cydney Moore on the City Council, are busy, trying to send a message, and that message is – we need, as a city, to get serious about having a legitimate shelter in this town. Getting pissed off or being mad as hell is not the solution. These are human beings, not garbage you can throw out like trash. It’s sad that the situation has to get to this point before we all get together and try to solve the problem.
What’s the solution? So anyone that lives in Burien is walking over needles and human waste as they are walking in our town past city owned land. Nice.
So John what’s your solution as family’s are walking through needles and human waste. This isn’t the homeless people that want help these are drug addicts I’m talking about. It won’t end unfortunately. Not sure how to solve. Just being passionate about my town.
The person that runs the severe weather shelter, has a dream to build a permanent shelter in Burien. Perhaps we should all get together and help that dream come true.
Final question.. if the homeless was camped in your back yard (as in drug addicts, people that didn’t want help) what would u do and your response. Would you be so helpful….
Coreen, my backyard essentially is the strip of land the campers are now on. I live in Town Square. I don’t like it. It’s very sad to me. We need a shelter in Burien. Today I have a job and I am able to pay for my condo. But that has not always been the case and I have been homeless a couple of times in my life. Not all homeless are suffering from drug addiction. It’s obvious that Burien needs some kind of a shelter for the homeless. This process that we are now seeing has gone on in many cities around the country and in fact around the world. It sucks, but it seems like we have to go through this painful process before we all get together and come up with a solution. Let’s help the Highline United Methodist Church complete their dream to build a shelter. For the person who said that the solution is to put them in jail, well please understand, not every homeless person is on drugs or a criminal.
Mrs. Moore, you stated that you and another citizen were the only ones helping the homeless move. You must have missed the churches and other organizations that work with the homeless out there helping to move them too. They also fed them Thursday night and shared with them their ideas for helping those who wanted it. You mentioned how bad you felt about the homeless situation and how they had no where to go. That is not true. The churches of Burien put together a plan to help the homeless by offering warm meals, showers, a place to stay and medically supervised detoxing for those that were interested. The Planning Commissioner pulled the plug on housing them in the 11th hour because he said permits were needed. This couldn’t have been brought to the churches attention earlier in the week? This could have been an amazing opportunity for the city and churches to help the homeless. What did you and the County Planning Commissioner do? You moved them to an area where dogs defecated and urinated. You also implied that only you and another citizen helped them move. Not true! The churches were there helping and inviting them to Hope church for a warm meal. If they chose not to come, bag lunches were provided. You say that you went in as a citizen not a public servant. If that’s the case why are you tooting your own horn. You don’t hear anything from the churches. I guess that’s the difference between truly wanting to help and having an agenda.
None of this is going to change for the good until people stop electing the same soft on crime, don’t hold anyone accountable and spend tax money like it will never end politicians. “Progressive politics” reminds me of the old adage about the definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
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