• City threatens legal action against owner of building with squatters

    By: Maria Guerrero

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - The building is boarded up.

    “No trespassing” signs from the Seattle Police Department are posted outside.

    But the old, vacant Seattle Times building on Fairview Avenue isn’t empty at all.

    The building takes up a full block in South Lake Union.

    It will one day be torn down to make way for 2,000 apartment units.

    But people are already calling it their home.

    A young man from Federal Way popped his head out of a partially boarded up, broken window on Wednesday afternoon.

    Asked how he gets in and out, he responded "just through this window they boarded up."

    Will would not provide his last name but says he’s been staying the building for two months.

    He says he has his own room and that there are about 10 people with him.

    "I'm here because I have nowhere else to go,” he said. “And some (expletive) happened in my life and I can't live back with my family and stuff.”

    Getting Will and other squatters out has been challenging for the city of Seattle since this past summer.

    In September, Seattle police officers evicted dozens of people and pets.

    Several people were arrested for outstanding warrants, others were directed to homeless shelters.

    The city says they've struggled to get the owner of the building to secure the first floor since August.

    He somewhat secured part of the first floor in September, according to the city.

    But he hasn't voluntarily boarded up the second floor.

    "It's not always a pretty solution meeting those minimum standards to secure it but it does help prevent some of the criminal activity or dangerous outcomes when you have people in a building that they're not familiar with," said Bryan Stevens, spokesman for the city's Department of Planning and Development.

    Stevens said there appeared to have been booby traps set up inside when officers served the eviction.

    The Department of Planning and Development took a different approach today in dealing with another broken window.

    "We asked the owner to secure that [window] but haven't heard from the owner so we went ahead and contracted a third party group to secure that window," said Stevens.

    The city will send the bill to the owner for the window and for junk left outside the building.

    The city attorney will also review and possibly file a lawsuit for the number of days last summer it took the owner to secure the building.

    In the meantime, Will says he will not go to a homeless shelter.

    “I have to come in at a certain time and I have to leave at a certain time and if you do leave at night you have to stay out. I don't want that kind of regulation,” he said.

    “It's my house now, pretty much," said Will of the building.

    There is no power inside.

    Will uses a headlamp and says he’ll find a way back in.

    "It's not being used,” he said. “I'm not about to stay you know another winter in the cold."

    The city recommends the owner put a fence around the building and hire security guards.

    KIRO 7 emailed and called the owner but did not hear back.

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