I recently traveled to Seattle for a dear friend’s memorial service. I hadn’t been there to visit for just a few years. I moved away ten years ago. In the last five years or so, every NW visitor to Maui that we spent time with lamented the homeless problems in Seattle. I had hoped they were exaggerating but driving around the city of my childhood and a majority of my adult life – just broke my heart. Once determined to be America’s Most Livable City, now it’s just tattered mess. The homeless situation was on full display throughout the city. This problem has not been dealt with by the city council, in fact, they have made it worse. It’s a problem throughout our country but in Seattle the Council has handed over the keys to the city to the homeless and taxpaying homeowners and business owners are stuck. Police are unable to help. The mayor and Police Chief both quit because they were stymied at every turn. For example, if you leave an inoperable vehicle on the street parked in front of your house for more than three days you can get a fine and a big fat towing bill too. If someone lives in an inoperable vehicle in front of your house, junks up your yard, and worse — they are considered “homesteaders” and there is no legal recourse for you as the homeowner. Example number two — There is an elementary school in Seattle where a homeless camp is being allowed on the school’s grounds. The children cannot go out to recess to play because of the dangers from needles on the ground and a naked guy who wanders around.
Everywhere we went the first thing folks talked about was the homeless. I feel for people who have lost their homes, jobs, etc. I do. But, they don’t clean up after themselves and there is no regard for others. Many of our friends have moved out of the city limits because they cannot stomach their yards being used as open air toilets. There is a stretch of road that was cut in a hillside and runs between West Seattle and Burien that is lined with majestic evergreens. I used to love that route. Now it smells like a sewer and there is rubbish from the top of the hill on each side and flows down to the road. The beauty of a once gorgeous city is marred by rubbish. The graffiti is almost as bad as New York’s. I didn’t even venture to the downtown area. My mother-in-law is afraid to go there. SAD. The whole experience was just sad.
A friend wrote a blogpost last week about this same issue. She is a property owner and property manager, the stories she told made my stomach roil in horror. She too grew up in a city she was proud to call home. Now, not so much. Someone in Seattle must have a viable plan to fix the problems. First they have to purge that council and get in a balance of values. Far far left is just as bad a far far right.
I am mourning the loss of the place where I grew up. We are going again soon for my niece’s wedding. I am not even looking forward to the visit besides the wedding. I don’t think my heart can take it. Since I am powerless to do anything about it, because I no longer reside there, my only means of self-care is to avoid going back. That won’t last forever though because my brothers and sisters still live on the outskirts of town but at least they don’t live in the city limits.