Tents cause tension in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood

SEATTLE -- The corner of Lake City Way and NE 125th Street has been taken over by tents. The city installed a sanitation station, which includes two Honey Buckets and a hand washing area.

Locals said it was a corner that previously invited folks to congregate during the day, but never camp overnight.

“Garbage everywhere, needles everywhere. It was like it appeared overnight,” said Brittany Garcia.

Garcia has called the Lake City neighborhood home for 13 years. She’s a mom to a 6-year-old girl and two teenage boys.

She said on any given day over the last month, the concrete Lake City Mini Park can have five to 10 tents occupying the space.

Just a couple blocks away at a small park near a library, there is another camp site with several tents.

“Somebody attempted to steal my children’s bikes at one point,” said Garcia, who also noted that car prowling seems to be on the rise on Lake City Way.

Retail stores and restaurants are all within walking distance, and a local business owner worries over the lack of social distancing at these camp sites.

“It’s actually being encouraged because they brought sani-cans and lavatory facilities to a park,” said Randy Linquist, owner of Wild West Cars and Trucks. “When we reopen our business they’re going to ask us to manage the danger to the public. Well they’re not doing it and it’s in open sight for everyone to see.”

Q13 News reached out to the City of Seattle Human Services Department. A spokesperson responded with this statement:

“The Navigation Team is focused on providing outreach services to people living unsheltered across the city at this time. Outreach includes offers of shelter, hygiene kits, information about COVID-19 and connections to other human services. This includes outreach in the Lake City area you speak of.”

“It’s kind of a difficult thing because where are they going to go? It’s not very hygienic, but I do think we need a solution for the homeless population because they’re not going away,” said Katrina Ji, who was eating dinner outside.

“It needs to be gone. I need to be able to feel safe,” said Garcia.

Last week, Seattle and King County announced additional steps to expand hygiene services and new shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness to slow the spread of Covid-19.

During the pandemic, nearly 400 “safer and 24-7” spaces have been created.