Neighbors say encampment endangering Thornton Creek

Some North Seattle residents say a growing homeless encampment near Thornton Creek is threatening to undo millions of dollars in restoration work.

Neighbors say since the encampment went in, they've had to call Seattle police repeatedly because of loud fights and screams.

Now, they worry that human waste is once again going into Thornton Creek which feeds directly into popular Matthews Beach.

By one estimate, the city of Seattle spent more than $11 million to restore Thornton Creek and clean up Matthews Beach.

"The biggest concern sprouted when we were calling 911 constantly and all the neighbors calling 911, because we were afraid, were fearing for their lives or were under threat," said area resident Victor Menaldo.

Menaldo says their concerns have turned from the campers' safety to the impact on this once-endangered habitat.

"I've seen heron here, owls, steelhead in the waters," said Menaldo ."And they must be impacted adversely by the fecal matter and all kinds of other effluence, needles.  Who knows what's going into the creek?

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The city of Seattle has spent millions of dollars to restore the urban habitat. Seattle Public Utilities found the main source of the contamination was raw sewage that had been mistakenly diverted into Little Brook Creek which feeds into Thornton Creek.

"And now it's unfortunately being endangered by this homeless encampment just upstream," said John Lombard, an environmental policy consultant and member of the Thornton Creek Alliance.

Lombard said he understands the city's policy not to remove an encampment until there is a place for the campers to go, but he is concerned about the damage it is causing.

"But the city's policy also basically says when there's a public health or a public safety emergency, they don't have to wait," sai Lombard. "This meets that criteria.  And so far they have not been."

"I would like them to basically clean this place up, and shut it down," he said.

A homeless camper spoke to KIRO 7. Delina Walton says she has been trying to keep things out of Thornton Creek, but she admits other campers aren't as concerned.