Seattle cleans out homeless camp in greenbelt

Seattle cleans out homeless camp in greenbelt »Play Video
SEATTLE - City workers in white overalls, wearing goggles and gloves have cleaned out mattresses, garbage and other debris from a homeless camp in a Seattle greenbelt.

Police rousted a few remaining residents but most were already gone Wednesday when the garbage truck arrived around 5:30 a.m. The city gave residents advance notice and offered temporary housing and other services.

About three-dozen people had been living at a dozen campsites in a wooded area of the West Queen Anne neighborhood.

"An encampment with no toilet facilities and no running water presents health problems," said Parks Department spokeswoman Dewey Potter.

The city has been removing encampments like these for 15 years. This time, they posted signs giving everyone a week's notice.

Police made sure everyone was out, and then equipment rolled in to scoop up bedding, cans, backpacks and when it was full, everything was thrown away.

The green belt has been gathering trash for years right next to multi-million dollar homes, and
a lot of these people were happy to see it go.

"I just feel bad for the people that live right there," said neighbor Robbie Yata. "It's 20 feet away from their house and that's not what they paid for."

But neighbor Dot Hachy hates to see the camp go.

"I think it's terrible," she said. "They are fine neighbors."

In fact, neighbors we spoke to couldn’t recall any real trouble from the encampment except Tuesday evening, when it looks like someone living in the greenbelt set a fire to one of the sites in retaliation of getting kicked out.

But for Dot, she sees this as a temporary fix.

"I don't think people choose to live down there, but try getting an apartment in Queen Anne… They are going to come back."

Members of an outreach program have been out here at least twice in the last week telling people living here about shelter available and getting substance abuse help.

The hope is the greenbelt remains clean after Wednesday and these people get a real roof over their heads.

But just in case, Potter said workers will be back next week to make sure the campers don't return.