While we were attending Saturday’s clean-up event, a concerned neighbor took us on a tour of “the Jungle,” an overgrown strip of land between Ballard Ave. and Shilshole along 22nd Ave. She told us the Jungle is a hotbed of drug use and a popular homeless hangout, especially at night.
We didn’t see any homeless on the property, but bedding and trash littered the area. Ballard District Coordinator Rob Mattson confirmed that some business owners and neighbors have complained about the land in recent weeks.
Much of the property is owned by the Olympic Athletic Club, which operates the parking lot there. The concerned neighbor, who asked us not to use her name, approached a city representative at today’s clean-up event to see if crews could clear out the brush and trash. But because it’s private property, he told her that he needed a signed letter of permission from OAC.
So she ran down Ballard Ave. and spoke to Olympic Athletic Club. Moments later, she returned out of breath, letter in hand. “This is a little unusual,” the city representative said. But within a few minutes, a Department of Corrections work crew with brush-clearing equipment moved in.
By noon, workers had cleared out trash, bedding and heavy brush in the most problematic part of the Jungle (compare this photo to the first one above). “I think the mayor put a tool in our hands today, and we were able to utilize it beyond our expectations,” she told us. “Every little step is an improvement in our attempt to keep our city safe, and we are extremely grateful.”
We’re told the work crew will also be picking up trash under the Ballard Bridge in coming days, another popular homeless hangout.