Tension grows over encampment near Green Lake

SEATTLE — In a corner of the west side of Green Lake Park, not far from the popular recreation path, RV’s have all but taken over the street parking.

“The park needs to be safe for everyone and accessible for everyone. And the park is not safe, not even for people living in it,” said Hilary Santini.

She lives nearby and worked with neighbors to organize a petition calling for the city to clean up Green Lake and Woodland Park.

As the encampment has grown through the pandemic, so have the safety concerns.

“I’ve been chased just trying to take a walk with my dog and someone who is mentally unstable was shouting at me and chasing me,” Santini said.

She said neighbors report people from the camp spitting at kids, and says someone pulled a gun on runners in Woodland Park.

Jason Lee has been living in an RV at Green Lake for a few months.

He says the tension goes both ways and that people living in the camp are targeted by people from the neighborhood.

“It’s been pretty bad. They come by and they jog by here and cuss at us things like that, drive by here honking all the time, laying on their horns and stuff like that. It’s like what are we supposed to do, get up and go?”

Lee said city workers come by offering to pump out RV sewage tanks, but he says no one has offered him housing.

“It’s probably getting to be time to go someplace else, I’m just trying to get some funding to get an apartment, stuff like that,” Lee said.

Neighbors are concerned about garbage, human waste, and oil leaks into the lake.

Hilary Santini says she’s now hesitant to visit the park.

“It never was a question about coming to Woodland Park, walking the dog, bringing my small children, and now it’s like, oh, no,” she said.

KIRO 7 asked Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office for an interview with city officials about the situation at Green Lake, but never received a substantive reply.