On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the City will begin efforts to remove illegal encampments along the Spokane Street corridor from Colorado Avenue South to Airport Way. The approach includes individualized outreach to move people to safer locations, connect them with services and store personal belongings – which has been occurring for weeks – followed by cleanup of garbage and debris left behind, then mitigation to discourage future camping. The City expects the work to last at least through the week, and potentially into the following week.
Outreach and referrals
As with all encampment removals, the City’s approach began with repeated, personalized outreach, with the City’s Navigation Team offering alternative shelter, services and storage of belongings to all people living unsheltered along the corridor. Over months of conducting repeated outreach in this area, the team has gotten to know many of the people living there and has been working to find solutions that meet their individual needs. Since a courtesy notice of the impending closure was posted on Aug. 23, the team has returned multiple times to offer outreach, including a multiagency collaboration on Aug. 28 that resulted in five people moving to alternative living spaces that day and a number of others connecting with services such as mental health support and medical attention.
The Navigation Team is able to refer individuals to the new Compass at First Presbyterian 24/7 enhanced shelter, in addition to other available shelter and encampment spaces.
Approach and approximate timeline
The area has been divided into four zones to be addressed separately:
Zone 1: Airport Way to Sixth Avenue
Zone 2: Sixth Avenue to Fourth Avenue
Zone 3: Fourth Avenue to Second Avenue
Zone 4: Second Avenue to Colorado Avenue
Monday, Sept. 11, will be a day of outreach only. On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Navigation Team will begin outreach at 8:30 a.m. Field coordinators will be on hand to provide storage of personal belongings. Other City crews and contractors will be ready to remove all bio-waste, garbage and debris from a zone as soon as campers have moved out of that area. Once a zone is clear, the City will install temporary fencing.
While the Navigation Team will conduct outreach along the entire corridor as necessary, the closure and cleanup will address one zone at a time. As Zones 2 and 4 have the greatest number of people, tents and structures, they will be addressed first and are expected to take the longest. The tentative schedule is:
Tuesday, Sept. 12: Begin Zone 4
Wednesday, Sept. 13: Finish Zone 4 and begin Zone 2
Thursday, Sept. 14: Finish Zone 2 and begin Zone 3
Friday, Sept. 15: Begin Zone 1
Should the cleanup extend into the following week, the City will repost appropriate notice around the impacted area.
As noted above, once a zone is completely clear, the City will install a mix of temporary and permanent fencing along the corridor. Several sections will be fenced off to protect infrastructure and/or to limit access to certain areas for authorized individuals (e.g., maintenance crews). The temporary fencing around several blocks under the Spokane Street Viaduct (installed following the removal of the RV encampment at the west end of Spokane Street in April) will be extended west to Sixth Avenue, though it will still allow entrance for commuter parking, which is an intended use of those rights-of-way.