by Staff Writer
The Dottie Harper Park encampment has been cleared. On June 6, Police Officer Mark Hayden thought there were 20 or more tents packed into the site. The clearing went peacefully. This site lasted for 6 days.
Burien Police Chief Boe clarified why the encampment (which popped up on June 1 after clearing the campsite at 6th and 152nd) settled at Dottie Harper Park and why it lasted only 6 days. Chief Boe communicated that the King County GIS maps show lines for Burien city-owned property. Charles Schaefer has, in his own words, “taught the campers how to find these places.” The campers then migrate to that location. But the King County site sometimes shows inaccurate lines, according to the City of Burien records. Therefore, the city staff does their own research. They determine if the lines are correct and if the land is a park or just city land. If it is park land, then the campers may be evicted. (This was the case with Dottie Harper Park.) The King County GIS showed the sliver of land the campers were on was open city land. However, city staff determined it was actually part of Dottie Harper Park. This process took 24 hours. By the end of day June 2, the notice to evacuate was posted with the mandatory 72-hour period of stay. As a result, the eviction was posted for June 6. By mid-afternoon, a new camp was springing up on 152nd and
4th outside of the Dollar Store.
New camp at 2nd and 152nd
Now the same process begins again! The Burien City Staff will need to spend time determining if this space is a park or just city-owned land. If the latter and the pattern holds, we will see 20+ tents all along 152nd between 2nd and 4th Avenue.
On the evening of June 6, City Manager Adolfo Bailon was at the new site measuring. It appears as though the tents are straddling a line between the city-owned land which extends 7 feet beyond the sidewalk, and private land, owned by Dollar Store and Grocery Outlet landlord. The property line runs almost precisely down the center of the two tree lines.
Center tree that divides public (right) and private (left) down the treed corridor
It remains to be seen if the landlord, SBI Investments LLC, who purchased the land, will require the campers to vacate the premise. If they do, it does not look practical for a tent to fit in the public space alone.
At various City Council meetings, Stephanie Mora has put forward motions to ban camping on city property. These motions have not received a second. At the June 5 City Council meeting, she asked the city manager to bring a proposed ordinance to ban camping in the city’s core. Three other councilors agreed.
But this does not deal with the burden now being dumped on the business owners on 152nd and 4th. It seems as though Charles Schaefer is more determined to grow the pain and suffering of the homeless than our city council is resolved to help the homeless recover and to protect our city and its residents.