Hundreds turn out to vent about planned homeless camp in Ballard

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SEATTLE — The idea of a homeless camp in the Ballard neighborhood is coming closer to reality and the outrage is growing, as was evident at Wednesday night’s heated meeting at Leif Erikson Hall.

Cleanup efforts are under way in Ballard as the city  moves toward turning the vacant lot on Market Street into a tent city.

A few hundred people showed up at Wednesday’s public hearing.

“I don’t think it’s best for my neighborhood and I don’t think it’s best for the homeless people. You’re going to put homeless next to a liquor store, a marijuana dispensary, a tavern,” Oakley Carlson, co-owner of KISS Café, said. “The fact that they’re just shoving this down my throat, yes, I am upset.”

Data pix.

The project is moving fast as crews clean up toxic substances to make way for tents.

"People (are) treating this parking lot specifically as a mattress, as a bathroom, as a trash can. Waking up residents at night," Ballard homeowner Coleen Hellenbrand added.

For folks who want to make this encampment their home, the stereotypes and opposition is hurtful.

“For right now a tent sounds like a wonderful place,” Jennifer Tibbits said at the meeting. “I was born and raised right here in north Seattle and I'm one of the people who want to live here. They only see one side and not the other.”

Neighbors feel blindsided and wished city officials would have included them in the planning process. Officials continue to defend the move

“Legal authorized encampments are permitted use under city law. That was authority and the leverage which we proceeded,” Seattle Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim said after Wednesday’s meeting.

Officials plan to push forward and have the site ready before the cold weather rolls in.

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