About the Ballard Jungle
To the Editor:
Thanks so much for the reporting on the unofficial Locks encampment (http://www.ballardnewstribune.com/2016/08/23/news/trash-pile-‘ballard-jungle’-spurs-neighbor). I’ve been surprised at how little media coverage there has been about ongoing neighborhood issues like this. I think you mentioned in the past that you only work part-time for the BNT. I wish it was full-time so you could do more stories like this! Really glad to see some good local reporting.
I am sorry to see the quotes from the city regarding the trash being categorized not as an encampment (which it most definitely is) and that outreach staff say there are no signs of active drug use or illegal activity. That is pretty sad — so many Find It Fix It reports from numerous people, calls from neighboring businesses, and obvious visual evidence. I find needle caps all the time at the bottom of that slope (as well as bottles of urine, dumped fluids/ashes, dead squirrels, parts of bikes, etc) and have many photos from this past year of numerous safety/health issues. I fully realize people need a place to be, but the lack of honesty and follow-through on the part of the city in enforcing anything here is not good for anyone. Stories like yours will hopefully help focus new energy on honest dialogue and solutions.
With the one-year anniversary of Nickelsville on Market St coming up, it’d sure be interesting to have a story or series of stories about the rushed, rocky process that led to this site being developed (and the many things promised to the neighborhood by city leaders) and how things have unfolded since its opening. The CAC web site was months behind getting launched and still doesn’t get regular updates (or responses to issues filed with its feedback form), so many issues/delays with basic electricity and water service (including months of water being delivered by an 80-year-old volunteer), the ordinance being written to allow 100 people but the site only accommodating 23, and as far as I can tell the camp has been evicting/banning 3-5 people each month, but police and social services don’t track them at all for follow-up support or safety so some of these folks just go camp right around the corner by the Locks or along the Burke-Gilman. Not a healthy solution for them or the neighborhood.
Anyway, thanks again for the article. I’ll be looking for future stories from you. And I wish we could crowd-fund or find a way to have the newspaper have you or others writing full-time about neighborhood topics, summing up neighborhood meetings and developments, etc. There’s so much going on and it’s hard to find good local information.
Editor’s Note: Shane Harms does work full-time for the Ballard News-Tribune as Lead Reporter and Web Editor.