SEATTLE - Seattle Police confiscated many drugs and weapons this week; it’s hard not to take notice. More than a dozen people were arrested in three different raids, much of the activity occurring in tent communities.
"Homelessness can happen to anybody; the additional criminal element makes it completely out of hand," Pioneer Square business owner Laura Zeck said.
Long before the raids dismantled the criminal enterprise hiding under some of the tents, three Pioneer Square business owners Q13 News met throughout the week say they have been begging for months and months for an intervention.
Now all three have come to a similar conclusion.
"I think we got to be out of business soon," Main Street Gryos owner Hamza Albadan said.
"I’m looking around for other spaces," Zeck said.
"I’m thinking about it right now but I have a lease," Gallery Frames Owner Daniel Carrillo said.
They say the cycle of crime associated with some of the tent communities makes them want to move out of Pioneer Square.
"I guarantee you in a couple of weeks time there will be more tents," Carrillo said.
They want long-term solutions, something we asked Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis about on Wednesday.
"You will have to talk to the police department or the mayor on what the long-term strategy is going to be in that corridor," Lewis said.
Lewis said what he would like to see is the Just Care program renewed and expanded. It's a new program that was aimed to reach out to the homeless and provide wrap around services.
But on Thursday, Seattle Police told Q13 News that they were puzzled by Lewis’ comments.
"For him to turn around and put that back on the Seattle Police Department is puzzling," Spokesperson Randy Huserik said.
SPD is puzzled because city council voted to defund the navigation team. It was defunded in a 5-4 vote, Lewis however was not in favor of cutting the navigation team.
The navigation team paired police and social workers to engage with the homeless population as a path to wrap-around services. The council wanted to direct that work to other organizations.
But Pioneer Square business owners say they are seeing no engagement with the homeless at all these days.
They also want to know how tents are allowed to block sidewalks for long periods of time.
Business owners say they don’t know what department is in charge of that issue.
"Other city agencies are now incumbent on dealing with those issues," Huserik said.
Huserik says they can't intervene quickly even if tents are blocking sidewalks.
"That’s still falling on encampment and homeless community, the city council expressed that they don’t want Seattle Police to get involved," Huserik said.
Q13 News reached out to SDOT, Department of Finance and Administrative Services, Department of Human Services and the Mayor’s Office to get an explanation of where people can turn to.
As of Thursday, there were still no clear answers as to which department is taking the lead on this issue.
On Friday, the mayor's office followed up with a statement saying the situation is complex.
"There’s no single department that makes the call for removals of tents or obstructions, rather, the decision is made collectively. Interdepartmental department teams meet regularly to assess the need to remove vacant tents, obstructions, litter and public dumping. Requests come in from a number of different sources, including through the Customer Service Bureau and the Find it Fix it app."