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Seattle Clears Notorious Swimming Pool Encampment

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Clean-up has begun for a massive homeless encampment across the street from the Arrowhead Gardens senior living community in West Seattle.

Diane Radischat, president of Arrowhead’s senior living association, is pleasantly surprised.

She didn’t expect the removal to start this soon and says, “the clean up that’s going on today appears to be pretty extensive.”

Crews began removing trash and dismantling the infamous swimming pool that had been set up on the property on Friday morning.

Radischat says she refers to the people living there as “occupants,” and that she’ll “remain calling them that.”

Monica Parrish set up the swimming pool and built a patio and says being asked to leave is “getting a little bit emotionally harder and harder every time.”

Outreach workers have convinced Parrish to leave behind her RV and accept transitional housing. But there are still dozens of other people still living on the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) property on Myers way and no timeline for when they’ll be removed.

“It’s not over by any means,” Radischat tells me.

Radischat and her neighbors have been sounding the alarm to elected officials and WSDOT for months now.

At a recent meeting with officials, the seniors told how “one of them defecated in one of our washing machines,” and asked “when are you going to care about us?”

But Radischat confirms that no timeline was provided for clearing the encampment.

I confronted Governor Jay Inslee about the lack of a timeline on Thursday.

Inslee stated that he’s “glad we’re a state that’s removing the encampments as fast as the dollars that have been alotted.”

But Radischat says Inslee’s dismissive attitude left a bad taste in her mouth. 

“They might think that they’re doing their job,” she tells me, “but we’re telling you, you’re not.”

She says his statement should have included an apology and expression that, “we’re trying to do our best and we’re working with you in a different manner than we have in the past.”

Surprisingly, Seattle’s Parks and Rec department is managing the clean-up, not WSDOT.

“The mayor doesn’t want to spend city money on something that’s on state property,” adds veteran journalist Matt Markovich. Markovich has covered the homelessness crisis in Seattle for years and says the mayor has always had the authority to remove encampments on WSDOT right of ways given permission from the agency.

I reached out to Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office and WSDOT officials to find out who’s paying for this clean up.

“He’s got plenty of other encampments to deal with,” Markovich says. “It’s all about money.”

Radischat says she won’t be celebrating until everyone is housed and off this property. 

“I know it’s as difficult for the people who live there as it is for us,” she says. “This is a human problem on both sides of the argument.”