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Western Washington's trashy problem: Today So Far

  • The trash is piling high in western Washington. Here's why.
  • The homeless encampment at Seattle's Woodland Park has been cleared. One person hopes this indicates a new city policy.
  • A Port Orchard man pleads guilty to a charge related to the January 6 insurrection.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for May 11, 2022.

Our region has a growing problem — trash. It's piling up in Snohomish County. And there's word that neighboring areas are facing the same issue. Over at Snohomish County Solid Waste outside of Everett, trash is piling up higher and higher. The problem doesn't stop there. All that garbage heats up while it sits around. Officials are concerned that spontaneous combustion could start a fire inside the transfer station.

The main problem behind all this? Officials point to a staffing shortage at the railroad company which hauls away the region's waste. It transports all the garbage to a landfill in eastern Washington. Read more here.

The homeless encampment at Seattle's Woodland Park has been cleared as of Tuesday. City crews will keep the park closed as they work to clean and repair the area. The city started reaching out to the many members of the encampment in January. Some were referred to shelter, tiny homes, or permanent housing.

Alison Eisinger is executive director of the King County Coalition on Homelessness. She told Soundside that what happened at Woodland Park was different than how the city has operated elsewhere. She hopes it marks a policy shift for the city under Mayor Bruce Harrell's lead.

"This is different from the every day, every night, harmful, expensive, damaging sweeps that the Harrell administration is also engaging in," Eisinger said.

So ... Eisinger is clearly not a fan of the Harrell administration. But she does admit that, while the city continues more rapid sweeps elsewhere, what happened at Woodland Park worked — taking extended time while collaborating with community groups and outreach teams to engage with people in the encampment. The end goal was to get people into places like shelters, tiny homes, or permanent housing. Eisinger notes that referrals don't always result in shelter. Some people still opted to move and camp elsewhere in the city.

Hear the full conversation here.

Just a thought. If you are going to commit crimes at the nation's Capitol, maybe don't film yourself doing it and post it online. That's a lesson a Port Orchard man learned the hard way. The video that John Cameron took while trespassing in the Capitol building is part of the evidence against him. He was initially charged with four crimes in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, but that was whittled down to one. He has now pleaded guilty for "parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building." It's a class B misdemeanor that could result in a $5,000 fine, jail time, or five years probation. Exact sentencing is unknown right now, but Cameron will have to pay $500 for damage he caused to the Capitol building. There are 12 people in Washington state, including Cameron, who are facing charges related to the January 6 insurrection.

One final note, Covid continues to go up around here. A couple days ago I reported that King County was at 984 daily cases. Now we're up to 1,006. It's a slow, steady rise that keeps on going. And Bill Gates is now one of them. Something tells me he's vaccinated though, so he'll likely be fine.

AS SEEN ON KUOW

Pastor Peter Chin stands in his office. His office is decorated with kid drawings, family photos, and Mariners merch
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Credit: KUOW/Brandi Fullwood

Burnout can manifest differently across job sectors. Long hours and an intertwined work and home life balance makes things tricky. Since the onset of the pandemic, many clergy members have been wrestling with how to do, and be, everything their community needs. Pastor Peter Chin knows this well. He's the lead pastor of Seattle's Rainier Avenue Church. (Brandi Fullwood / KUOW)

DID YOU KNOW?

If you live in Seattle (or any Northwest town, really), go outside and enjoy a park. We have some of the best in the nation.

The Trust for Public Land recently released its annual ParkScore Index, which considers parks in the nation's 100 largest cities, and ranked Seattle as ninth in the nation. Seattle specifically scores high in access (99 out of 100), investment (100/100), and equity (80/100). The city could do better on amenities and acreage, two other scoring categories. Overall, it's actually quite comparable to other major cities. It's worth noting that Seattle also ranks in the 70s when it comes to bathrooms and dog parks — so like a C.

And because I know you're wondering — Washington DC tops the list. Irving, Texas came in at the bottom of the list.

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

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Inflation may be easing — but low-income people are still paying the steepest prices

A report from the Labor Department Wednesday shows consumer prices in April were 8.3% higher than a year earlier. That's a modest decrease from the March inflation rate of 8.5%, thanks in part to a short-lived drop in gasoline prices last month.

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