Regular cleaning and vaccinations in place to address Ballard Commons Hep-A outbreak

Ballard Commons Park is receiving more rigorous cleaning and public health outreach after a Hepatitis A outbreak in the area.

In March, Seattle & King County Public Health identified 30 confirmed Hepatitis A cases in the county, with 14 of those individuals reporting as living homeless in the Ballard area. In a newsletter to constituents, District 6 Councilmember Dan Strauss outlined the efforts of his office and other City departments to address the outbreak.

“In my first two months in office I began the work to address this situation behind the scenes, and then COVID-19 hit. I continue monitoring Ballard Commons in-person and I opened my district office at the Customer Service Center (next to the library) to increase my presence in the area,” Strauss said in his newsletter.

As we reported in early April, Public Health has been operating weekly Ballard clinics for vaccinating against Hepatitis A, along with outreach three times per week. In addition, Seattle Parks has been sanitizing the Portland Loo three times daily, and picking up litter three times per week in Ballard Commons Park. Seattle Public Utilities has increased cleaning the park four times per week, and are servicing the garbage can in front of Ballard Library five times per week.

The City is also providing a handwashing station and portable toilets at Ballard Commons Park, in addition to the Portland Loo. And, the City’s Human Services Department and Navigation Team are conducting outreach with hygiene kits three times per week.

Seattle Police Department’s Community Police Teams, Anti-Crime Teams, and Bike Patrols are supplementing patrols of the park.

Councilmember Strauss said that when he was elected, one of the first issues he planned to tackle is the Ballard Commons Park situation.

“Until we stand up appropriate shelter options, we need to manage what is currently an unmanaged encampment,” Strauss said in his newsletter.

34 thoughts to “Regular cleaning and vaccinations in place to address Ballard Commons Hep-A outbreak”

  1. Allowing our park with a playground to become essentialy unusable for families and kids due to hepatitis, needles, crime, trash, drug use, etc. is absolutely unacceptable. These transients need to be removed and camping banned from all parks, sidewalks, public spaces and green spaces. Campers need to be transferred to shelters with adequate sanitation for the health and safety of both the transients as well as the general public.
    When elected Strauss said ” one of the first issues he planned to tackle is the Ballard Commons Park situation.” however, it has only gotten worse since he has been in office.
    There will be more police presence but they have no authority to do anything thanks to the city council and Strauss.

    1. OK, time for civil disobedience then. Something Seattle seems pretty comfortable with already. Time to plan a protest. Count me in. Why is it a father and daughter are told to go home while alone together at the BMX park at Green lake when there are tents full of who knows what all over the area, allowed to remain???? Beyond fair. This is criminal. Our city council and Pete Holmes are feckless.

    2. One item that’s missing from the discussion is that the younger people (<40) hanging out in the park who think they are immune to COVID, or at least likely won't die from it, are hit the hardest by Hep A.

      The risk-age profile is almost the exact opposite of COVID.

      While San Diego closed parks to stop the spread of Hep A we are keeping ours wide open and have people and dogs rolling around and laying in the same grass that many encampment residents are using as a toilet at night. You can almost watch the Hep A spreading a couple feet away from health workers in full body suits trying to wipe everything down.

      Also insane – if you work with the most vulnerable community members on the street put on a mask and gloves…not for you but for the people you are assisting. That goes for the police as well who seem to be completely oblivious that there is pandemic going on.

      Ballard Commons is like a case study in how to do everything completely wrong.

      1. Oh those oppressors in San Diego!!! Not nearly as enabling and “progressive” as here where Hep A can spread through the parks and the parks…. remain open? Nice job City Council.
        Way to go Mayor Durkin.
        Extra special thanks to Dan Strauss for keeping the dream for many heroin addicts alive – a place to inject drugs into yourself and others in a public space and not be harassed by police.
        Way to go Seattle! So much better for a heroin junkie than San Diego.

          1. I think it’s Mr. Page, of Nextdoor fame. Same tone, writing style, word choice, etc.

          2. I dunno. There was only one guy I know of who was so creepily obsessed with Mike O’Brien and spent every waking hour complaining about the homeless problem while somehow managing to blame everything and everyone else for the homeless problem.

          3. Hmmm, well, vive la difference. I always thought Harley was pretty much a pragmatic guy who was pushed too far by too much criminal activity in his neighborhood. I paid very close attention to that race and made a point to talk to nearly every candidate. Now, I’ll immediately admit the folks who gathered around him were in some cases deplorables…in this town if you’re even a step or two toward the center, love-starved MAGAts think you’re the great white hope so that was bound to happen. But I know several Harley supporters who are most assuredly Never Trumpers. Certainly, the ones running the Safe Seattle show now are generally a rag-tag collection of tinfoil hats. Way more the “creepy obsessives” you mention.

          4. “Every waking hour” ???
            “Everything and everyone else”?
            This seems obsessive. Do you deny that Seattle’s government in general and Councilmember O’Brien tolerated the “unmanaged encampment” and thwarted enforcement of laws which it violates?
            Exaggeration is different from Truth.

          5. It’s clear you’ve never heard or read Harley speak. There’s a few news archives of him and his ilk at a town house on homeless solutions.

            I invite you to view one of them and let me know if you still feel the same.

          6. Oh there goes Truth again. Cranky Pants specifically says s/he talked to the candidates and followed the race closely. But Truth won’t have any of that! It’s “clear” that Cranky Pants imagined their careful following of the race. In fact, CP never heard or read a word that Lever said! Or, if s/he did and agree with Lever, they must somehoe be sinister. I’ll tell you something Truth: I didn’t vote for Lever. But I sure as hell would today.

  2. Platitudes and empty promises. ““Until we stand up appropriate shelter options, we need to manage what is currently an unmanaged encampment.” That’s nice, Dan. Stating the obvious doesn’t solve the problem. What’s your plan? Learned anything in the past few months that could at least allow you to have some initial ideas to share? Got any directional leans on solutions?

    What a knob.

    1. Just a guess, but the response will be bending over backwards to enable the heroin junkies and provide more Honey Buckets to be burned down. This is based on pattern and practice from the City Council. Great plan…. if you are a heroin junkie.

      Dan’s response is completely lacking in reality. Put a heroin junkie in housing and they’ll leave and go right back to the Commons. It’s the best place for heroin junkies to be heroin junkies. There are plenty of beds open in shelters. It’s a heroin addicts choice not to.

      So now what Dan? Duhhhh……. More housing and raising taxes….. on Amazon and property owners…
      No Dan Strauss. Wrong answer. Mindless Social Justice Warrior.

  3. Anybody see seattle is dying ! Well we need to do the same thing for our homeless population to get them off the streets and give them a chance to get off drugs or live in jail ! Mcneil island would work great ! The island has everything we need to work with these druggies and cure them or at least get them off our streets !

  4. This park has been a mess since Mike O’Brien made it downtown addictville. Couple that with St. Luke’s who is oblivious to the externalities their food program has caused in the neighborhood. Hep A is just the latest in a park saga that was pristine and a central part of the community 5 years ago.
    Get them out!
    Solutions don’t always mean jail but you’ll know success when families are able to use it again. That’s not unfair at all.
    Clean it up Dan Strauss. Let’s see how you lead here……
    Until then, it’s the go-to place for heroin, junkies, insane people and Hep A. Nice job.

  5. the response from strauss, while not surprising, was of course ridiculous. they need to manage what is an unmanaged encampment? wtf does that even mean? are encampments legal on park grounds? give me a break. corona virus, hep A – but we still have to make sure the vagrant junkie thieves don’t get their feeling hurt.

    cleaning is great, but the idea doesn’t deserve a pat on the back. let use our brains and remove the source of the disease(s) – accept shelter when offered or suck eggs. no more hand wringing over it, no more option of, “nah, i’ll just set up camp where i please.”

    this is a public park, not a flop house. same with the library. yes, the homeless are part of the public, but parks are not intended to be camped in. shameful response by the city once again.

  6. Remember when Mike O’Brien stated his desired policy to stop the sweeps and “stabilize” people Where they we’re. Well, Dan “stop the sweeps” Strauss is making good on his promises during the campaign, in which he stated that he agreed with Mike O’Brien’s policies. So why would anyone believe Strauss is serious about clearing out the camp?

    4 years is a long time, but we have to keep up the pressure and hope that we can get rid of Strauss.

  7. any comment from st luke’s on this matter? oh, right, once the problem is outside of their doors its not their problem anymore.

  8. For context:
    This “more rigorous cleaning” etc. was provoked by 30 cases of Hepatitis A in March in King County, including 14 in Ballard.
    This compares to the COVID Pandemic which caused 30 DEATHS per DAY in March in King County. My inference is that the Health Department has enough resources to address the COVID pandemic so its extra can deal with this lesser threat.
    Or that it must cave to political pressure even during the greatest pandemic in 100 years. I don’t expect Councilmember Strauss to sort this out but one can hope.

    1. Dan Strauss ran on a “stop the sweeps” platform. So there’s no reason to think he’s doing much to address the situation in Ballard commons.

  9. I suppose Hepatitis should be anticipated once the new Portland Loo was installed. It served as a magnet for the homeless and now the pandemic has basically handed the entire are over to them. The only solution is to take homeless people into protective custody and put them into a locked down facility with services to address their needs.

  10. For gosh sakes Meghan, please use an accurate photo of the park with this story. The one in the story is lovely, and does not show the fenced off spray park, rows of tents, and all the garbage in the area.

      1. Ok, that’s been witnessed at the park fountains – heroin butt in the spray fountains.
        Should be no surprise to anyone. Feel bad for the parents that allow there kids to play there. Ewwww…..

  11. I work in Ballard and walk past that park everyday. There are about 15 to 20 tents set up. Some of the people who have set up camp there are harmless but there are a lot of new campers who are scary and violent. I personally have been chased down by a few for no reason. I have had a rock thrown at my head and spit on. I now carry a knife to protect myself. There is trash and bottles of piss all around. I’ve seen used needles as well as people smoking Meth out in the open. Police do nothing and never patrol often like what was wrote. The police are to busy chatting with each other when and if they are patrolling. The park is not cleaned like what was wrote either. I will not take my dog there anymore ever since my vet technician friend said her dog stepped on a used needle that was in the grass. I tell every parent to not go to that park. It’s a health hazard and nothing is being done about it. Kick those people out and let Ballard have their Park back. People are going to say”where are these homeless to go?” I don’t care where they go… just get the hell out of Ballard.

  12. It’s hard to see how Ballard library can reopen with Commons in the state it is in. Hep A, social distancing not happening . . . It would be grossly unfair to expect librarians and library aides to run a drop-in homeless center with Covid-19 & Hepatitis A risks.

    So, we’ve essentially lost the park as a community resource. The library will be closed or off-limits to all but the homeless as long as the park remains an unauthorized homeless encampment.

    Notice also that St. Luke has closed down all its services for the foreseeable future. I don’t blame them, but I do hope they take a long look in the mirror. Their food program has certainly drawn homeless to the Commons. Pastor, is that fair to the community at large if you’re going to close up during tough times and leave the problems you helped create to be handled by librarians, health workers, and police? Time to stop with the “compassionate” help that has made the problems worse, not better

  13. Wolfgang-St Luke’s is shut down for the most part but continues to provide food (to go).

    One useful lesson from the disaster in Ballard Commons right now is that it gives use a clear picture of what happens when we “ stop the sweeps” as demanded by Dan Strauss and other city council people.

  14. I agree that St Luke’s is a big part of the problem, but also that it can be part of the solution. Can we get a discussion started about ways the negative effects of their food program could be addressed. For instance, would making all their food to-go help reduce camping?

    1. It’s to-go now (you posted that above) and camping has only gotten worse. So…no? I think the city has to identify property they can camp on and insist they relocate there. St. Lukes can deliver food to that location. I actually think that the food program is run by that church next to Trader Joe’s and they just use st. Luke’s kitchen facility? I could be wrong on that, but if i am eright, that church has a big parking lot. They can set the tents up there. It’s not a park and it’s a higher (certainly a more Christian) use for the land than parking.

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