News Aug 22, 2022 at 11:26 am

Imminent Sweep Destabilizes Found Family at Aurora Encampment

The City will sweep Cuba for the third time this year. This time, they won't just uproot him, they'll take him from his garden of onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, apples, lemons, and cactus. HK



Wait until the neighbors steal or wreck something of yours, Ms. Krieg, and then your tune will be different.


"The City will sweep Cuba for the third time this year. This time, they won't just uproot him, they'll take him from his garden of onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, apples, lemons, and cactus. HK"

Sorry Hannah, can't get my heart to bleed over that disingenuous ploy. But I do hope Cuba can harvest what he can.


"While Cuba said he would be open to moving to an RV safe lot, he said the lot would have to allow him to continue living on his own terms. After all, he said, he is too old for a babysitter."

This is the rub, isn't it. Hard to convince Mr. & Mrs. Seattle Taxpayer that beggars, indeed, can be choosers.


@3 They’re not beggars. They’re not begging for anything other than to be left alone. They could build their own housing for themselves and each other if you wouldn’t keep demanding the cops raid the camps, which makes crime more likely and harder to track in the first place


@1 how are you still not creative enough to realize that sweeps are the least effective way to deal with theft and harken back to European treatment of Jews and Romani (gypsies) and American attacks on Black communities as collective punishment of an entire area for suspected crime by an individual or small group?
You seriously can’t think of another way to address theft?

@2 what’s disingenous about it?


Where to start?

Cuba sure seems to be a resourceful and hardworking individual. No mention in this story of what is keeping him in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

With his drive and energy you would think he could easily find a job that would provide him with more stable housing.

Or, since his RV evidently is functional and runs, there are plenty of small towns scattered around the west where his hard work would be appreciated.

I wonder what it is that keeps him stuck in Seattle, seems starting life over someplace he could go with a clean slate would be an attractive option.

So Hannah, what is keeping Cuba in Seattle?


I live near this encampment, seems like a dangerous situation for everyone. A couple of nights ago I heard 6 gunshots coming from that direction at 3am.


Cuba is hard working apparently. On his terms. And wants to live. On his terms (no babysitter for him!).

Being a part of society means following rules so we call can work and live together. He doesn't want to be a part of society. So why live in a big city? Usually it's because of access to drugs.

If I decide to take over some land belonging to one of those big houses in Madison Park and plant my little vegetable garden, does that give me the right to stay there? Why does the Hannah keep peddling the belief that people should be able to park their crap wherever they want, do whatever they want, create unsafe conditions (I'm sure the RV and additions are up to code) and we are all supposed to say "Great! Here's some money for you to keep living irresponsibly!"?


Interesting journalism if it could be called that. It basically accepts the status quo as described by the residents as their only reality. No effort to actually get their history of how they happened to be on the streets of Seattle. No effort to ask about work history, drug history, crime history, time in Seattle and if not native to the area, when and why they arrived here.

Why are the street dwellers living on the streets of Seattle? Because they can.

I am so over the enablement and infantalization that describes the attitude and actions of so many in this town. Those on our streets are by and large rational adults with choices. If the choice to live on our streets is removed, they will as individuals, make other choices. It might be to accept help offered. It might be to return to where a support system exists, including family. It might be to enter treatment. It might be rejoining the paid workforce if not part of it. It might be to go to another city that is less restrictive just as many left other cities to come here. Or perhaps a city that has cheaper rents for those who can with a straight face claim it is rental costs. I guarantee that if one rolled back the rent in Seattle to a decade ago, that few if any of these folks would be willing or able to come up with it.

And please don't amuse us with the claim that with a virtually free transit system, Rodney is constrained from moving due to access to his doctors! It is one thing to report their excuses as a reporter, another thing to accept them as reality. The closest thing Hannah approached in terms of reality, is quoting someone who "was not shy about blaming..." crimes on homeless neighbors.

For those relatively new to Seattle, this was not a thing as recently as a decade ago. Then with Fentanyl, meth, and civic denial, we and other left coast cities ended up as we are.

I have a family member who was for a couple years homeless and meth addicted, and wandering through various west coast cities. Finally an outreach team in a city that does not enable or permit vagrancy, intervened, connected them to us, and the pressure that came to bear led to them accepting treatment. That was less than a year ago and they are now housed and employed, and still sober. Had they not found themselves in a place where they were not not enabled and allowed to stay on the streets, who knows whether they'd still be alive as there had been some close calls on the street.

Yes, these folks are troubled, but we have concentrated them in Seattle because of so many clueless well-intended people. I believe that these adults will respond resourcefully to whatever obstacles, limits and opportunities they find. And if every single tent and derelict vehicle were roused daily from our streets with no room to replant oneself, the body count, and crime statistics would decline. Telling that only 3 of the 26 residents accepted shelter offers. We have a mayor who it appears seems to get it. I only hope he stays the course.


Here's a conundrum for Stranger writers: What if the residents of this encampment were using gasoline-powered leaf blowers? Like every morning, starting at 6AM? What should be done?


Today I learned that homeless people in Seattle are really homesteaders.



About 150 years ago a bunch of white people showed up and squatted on this land. About 80 years ago a bunch of white people swept a bunch of Japanese people into desert camps and squatted on this land. The main problem I have with these encampments is how they poison the watershed they are often in very close proximity to with fuel and human waste making any salmon recovery impossible, but until we remove the dams from places like the Skagit and the Snake and drain Lake Cushman and rewild the Skoke then poisonous city creeks are the least of the Salmon Recovery concern.

On my block 50% of the houses neighbors are selfish dickhead assholes and 100% of the unhoused neighbor is a thoughtful considerate neighbor. Can we sweep my block of the selfish dickheads please?

Of course we all benefit from a not so long history of squatting on land we don’t really belong on so fuck off all your self silencing to your own entitled bullshit.

Yeah it sucks to have thieves and lunatics roaming freely. As yourselves when you insist people like Cuba scatter off to the boonies, why are you here and why don’t you leave if you don’t like how it is you are treated? Then so the only honest thing and mind your own fucking business and reach a hand down to your good neighbors and a middle finger up the dickheads who can’t figure it out.


4: I wasn’t commenting on the effectiveness of sweeps, rather, I was just noting that people have all the care and concern for the homeless until it’s their neighborhood or their stuff that gets stolen then it’s “throw the book” time. It’s akin to the old saying (paraphrasing) kids and money turn liberals into conservatives.


@shoobop "dickheads" "fuck off" "bullshit" "fucking" "dickheads". Klassy!

100% of your unhoused neighbors are considerate? Is that before or after their propane tank explodes or you step on the needles? Or their "fuel and human waste" flows into the creek?

"Mind your own fucking business" and reach a hand down to your neighbors? Which is it?


"His One Seattle Homelessness Action Plan dashboard proudly reports that under his leadership, the City has “removed” over 800 tents and 400 RVs from January to July."

Thank you Mayor Harrell!



Yeah, too bad the the indigenous peoples of North America didn't have similar laws in place when white people suddenly started showing up and stealing land that had already been populated for tens of thousands of years, amiright? I mean, why couldn't the white people assimilate into the already established society they found when they got here? I guess, in your minds, "being part of society" just means adhering to the rules of YOUR society, which is the only one that really matters. But, even if that's the case, they're just doing exactly the same thing your ancestors did to the people who were here before them, only now you're on the poking end of the stick for a change. Sucks, doesn't it?



Sorry the frontier closed in 1890.

But in many parts of the West (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, heck maybe Washington too) you can still file a mining claim and and stay on the land while working it.

Surely this wouldn't be too much work for the resilient and resourceful Cuba.



But, does "removed" actually MEAN removed or does it really mean "we just shuffled them around from where they were to somewhere else they'll eventually be 'removed' again to make the numbers suggest something is being done, but where in reality NOTHING is being done to address the root problem that creates the need to incessantly sweep in the first place"?



Funny, because I'll bet most of those whose land was stolen never agreed to those terms. It's only white "manifest destiny" arrogance that decrees land they took can't be taken back.


I hope the city has some bus tickets to Miami to hand out, to help get these guys home. It is pretty telling that the nicknames are always place names: “Cuba”, “Miami”, “Tex” and “Phoenix”. Time for a camping and homesteading ban.


“NOTHING is being done to address the root problem that creates the need to incessantly sweep in the first place"?”

Actually Ann Davison has made considerable progress in clearing the massive backlog of cases Pete Holmes left her. She has also reduced the amount of time needed to file cases from 129 days to 3.

So progress is being made.

Hopefully the election of Jim Farrell in November will address similar issues in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

I would think Shyanne, who alludes to be a victim of crime, Will welcome an opportunity for justice.


@16: That's some really contorted whataboutism you got goin' there.


I wonder what the property tax would be on Cuba's plot would be if it was legitimized.


Interesting to see some commentary that Seattle was not like this before... homelessness wasn't an issue... It was. Time for Mr Pike Place commenter and others to visit MOHAI.

The location homeless people shelter has changed however. We need to be cognizant that local transportation departments have fenced off the underpasses and the Marine Security rules cordoned off traditional areas for homeless people to shelter in Seattle. I remember working on the Ballard ship canal in the early 1980s stacking pallets and there were large encampments. This homelessness isn't new, just changed location because of new rules and fences. Likely other industries have tightened security rules as well.

Another big change was the Reagan revolution decimated the mental healthcare system nationwide starting in the 1980s. We're a generation into that cruel experiment. Our nation went from Best Care in the world to what we have now. That left people with untreated mental illness to fend for themselves.


Somebody get this man some RV park brochures.


@24 First of all, my screen name is ParkPlace, not Pike Place. But moving on - sorry but the numbers and facts matter. I have been in Seattle since the 70's. The so called "jungle" was swept in 2016, long after encampments around the city were a thing. The decimation of the mental health system was already largely accomplished by the 70's with outpatient treatment supplanting long-term hospital stays at places like Western, Northern and Eastern State Hospitals. Such resources have always been in short-supply.

The graffiti along the highways, the tents, the derelict RV's, the wanton theft with no consequences from homes and stores, meth, fentanyl - used and dealt with no legal consequences - these and more are largely of the past decade. The inflow from other parts of the country - likewise. Ask any honest first responder who regularly encounters this population about their origins and you will learn truths that contradict the lies promulgated by one oft-debunked "study" claiming local origins of the majority who have actually migrated to our streets from other counties and states, because they can and we let them.

Seattle after all is where the term Skid Road was coined. It referred to Yesler which was used to skid logs down to the sound from uphill forests. We have always had hobos as well as underclass of rough and down and out people. Look up and watch "Streetwise" the 1884 documentary based upon homeless street youth in Seattle. I recall when I first came here there were grizzled men selling newspapers in downtown kiosks and other folks wandering about. I even knew some of them from my work at the time in the urban hospitals like Harborview and Public Health (that art deco building on the south side of Beacon Hill overlooking I-90 was once a hospital largely serving urban Indians, merchant seamen and similarly marginalized groups - long closed and once the HQ of Amazon when repurposed to office use). Tents in parks and parking encampments were never a thing of such magnitude until the last decade.

Unfortunately so called homeless advocates sanitize and avoid the truth of the actions and origins of the preponderance of today's vagrants. These are not working poor trying to eek out an honest living. They are by and large criminals, addicts with the occasional person with chronic schizophrenia - all of whom deserve better. Our commitment laws have largely been intact since before my arrival. Civil commitment has a high bar so that has not changed a lot. What has changed is our tolerance combined with a lack of enforcement of laws in place and a decriminalizing of use of drugs and functional decriminalization of sale of drugs. And we have a bunch of enablers and so called mutual-aid folks who have romanticized this group and used them to advance their own economic and/or political agendas.

The difference now post-Covid, the summer of George Floyd and reasonable people using their eyes and brains, is that we are now the "woke" who see the truth - and will not be conned or cajoled by those who wish to rail on about capitalism, colonialism, or any other ism that excuses the inexcusable. We will take back our city with the help of voters and the electeds we have hired and will hire to do the job. Every sweep and resweep is a good start. And you know what, those being swept will as a class end up in better places in many cases. Some will become sober, housed, employed, gain a sense of dignity and pride, and will escape the cycle of despair that so many apologists revel in but would not dare to actually do anything meaningful about.


The typical right-wing bleating in this comment section is unsurprising. Yes, someone with Cuba's skills in maintenance should be employed and housed, but the fact that he is without a home to begin with is the preventing factor. No, homeless people aren't homesteaders, but camping in such a sophisticated way off Aurora, a polluted highway, is hardly ruining the neighborhood. Fentanyl slums are a different story but adding a garden is more helpful to the neighborhood than harmful.

Oh well. Better journalizing than your usual, Hannah.



That's a lot of words, and quite well-expressed, to say "I'm an old dumbass."

Just to correct you, and I hope I come off as pedantic here, the "art deco" hospital you're referring to is not on the south side of Beacon Hill. It is in North Beacon Hill, literally as far north as you can possible get on the hill.

That error combined with your comment about "graffiti along the highways" being a new ailment has led your rant to be dismissed. Thanks for trying - opinions aside, you wrote well - now move to a nursing home in Lake Stevens.


@24: Fact check alert. Ronald Reagan got blamed for implanting federal law that enabled inmates to keep people locked up against their will. The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act was regarded by some as a “patient's bill of rights” and a humanitarian victory at the time.

Some mental institutions where downright horrible beyond belief.

God Bless Ronald Reagan


*enabled institutions to keep...


@29 Thanks for pointing out my directional error. I know where it having spent many a day and night there - but reversed my directions. Touché. You now have in your mind dismissed my statements and hurled the “right wing” insult my way. Well played!



"Some mental institutions where downright horrible beyond belief."

But still better than what we laughable pass off as mental health care today. I think living in a Bedlam dreamed up by Ken Kesey would be less barbaric than the encampments we have condemned them too.

"God Bless Ronald Reagan"
Is that for funding the mujahideen who were the precursors to the Taliban?
Or funding the extreme militias that tore Central America apart?
Or just for starting the destruction of the New Deal?

Reagan was an awful president.
Before W. Bush I would say Reagan was the worst President since Buchanan. During W.'s Presidency I thought it was a draw.
After 45....



As far as worst Presidents I'm going to put James Buchanan and Donald Trump in a tie for 1 & 2.

Buchanan was so inept that 11 states seceded from the union upon the election of his successor.
Trump tried to stage a coup to overturn the election but was thankfully too incompetent to pull it off.

For 3rd and 4th place I'm going to put Reagan and W. Bush in a tie.
Reagan because his policies and politics set the stage for the September 11 attack as well as the destruction of the safety net. W. Because he gleefully ran with it making even worse decisions and botching both he invasion of Afghanistan (which had some justification) and the invasion of Iraq (which had no justification). Reagan made W. possible, but W. stepped up (or down) to the job.

Fighting fo 5th pace we have Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.
Dick because his disregard for the Constitution was appalling (though in light of actions by Trump Nixon's resignation make him look like a statesman).
And LBJ because 57, 939 American deaths combined with; 250,00 ARVN deaths, 1,000,000 NVA and VC deaths; and possibly 1,000,000 civilian deaths overshadow his accomplishments in civil and racial justice.


In an excellent complement to this article, most of the questions by the fashy trolls above are answered. Surprise! It’s our systems failing. If you want to know why Cuba is in Seattle, how his situation got to be this way, and what his real name is, click here


@34 -- thank you for the article. It explains that Cuba could be in a tiny house, but just doesn't want to. So rather than our systems failing, Cuba is an example of someone refusing to use them.

It's interesting how digging deeper into the reality of Seattle's homeless population almost inevitably wrecks the narrative of The Stranger.


"His" garden? I musta missed the part where he bought or leased the land that he's growing "his" vegetables?

Refuses help and wants to be left alone - sorry, buddy... you don't get to make up your own rules.

Society develops standards, rules and laws for those within it. You don't get to just "do what you want, wherever you want." Don't like it? You're free to buy a piece of land out in the wilderness and build your hippie commune.


Didn't we learn recently that urban gardening is actually a form of hostile architecture designed to keep our unhoused neighbors from having a place to rest?

Cuba's garden should not be celebrated but condemned for the affront to the homeless community that it is.


On the "Regan decimated mental health in the 80's" point, it's now 2022. It's long past time to stop blaming Regan, and start blaming all the elected officials who came after him and failed to fix this problem.


I hope cooler heads prevailed at city hall and this encampment wasn't swept as scheduled. It doesn't seem to be bothering anyone and let's not forget we're in an emergency situation with regard both to Covid and an acute shortage of suitable housing, both permanent and temporary. Sweeping an evidently stable, out-of-the-way encampment like this one, with no appropriate housing available, would just add to the city's already severely backlogged caseload while needlessly disrupting the residents' lives. It makes sense only if that disruption is the whole point. But that can't be true in Seattle ... right?


@39 -- thing is, the article posted @34 discusses the subject of this Slog post and indicates he's been offered housing. He didn't want it. Now that's obviously his choice, but saying that the person profiled here is in an emergency because of an acute lack of housing simply isn't true considering he was given a chance to be housed.

Should we let vagrancy run rampant in the city because people don't feel like going into the housing they're offered? I think the last election says the majority of the public pretty clearly believes the answer is no. The Stranger obviously believes the answer is yes. And that's how we end up with articles like this one, advocating for policies the voters don't support.


A tiny home is not Housing. I’m not talking about aesthetically or the size of the structure, although that would be true also. it’s not even legally treated as Housing, it’s usually temporary and it never has eviction protections like everybody else. He needs to be equal rights, not some civil unions equivalent “skim milk marriage“ was the term I think half equivalent.
The last election was the result of misinformation about people turning down housing when they were actually just turning down shelter. I wouldn’t go into shelter either. I would hold out for equal rights.


@36 The people who own most of the land in Seattle didn’t either. Have you forgotten private property here is less than two centuries old? He doesn’t need help other than to mitigate the damage the city is doing and that is far from remedied by that half ass options the city offers or claims to offer homeless people being forced to move.


@37 The 96th and Aurora garden was specifically created to stop people from living there. That’s what makes it hostile architecture, not the fact that it’s a garden. I think you knew that, unless you’re even dumber than you sound. Which means you think we are, which is kind of the same thing. Or have a terrible sense of humor.


@39 He was offered a tiny house, which is obviously unsuited to his needs (in his case, absurdly so). There's no shortage of people eager to get into a tiny house. While personally I don't consider them real housing, they hold an undeniable appeal for a certain subset of the unhoused population, i.e., those with few possessions and who lack Cuba's outdoor survival skills. Therefore it makes perfect sense, if Cuba and company are content where they are and not actively harming anyone, to leave them alone at least for now and offer the house to someone for whom it would be a much better fit. Why create a problem where none exists?

BTW, "vagrancy" is a term with historically strong racial overtones that you might want to consider excising from your 2022 vocabulary -- especially since the behavior it describes stopped being illegal around the same time integrated drinking fountains did.


@41 -- got it. So there's housing (which you call shelter) it's just not good enough and has rules preventing people living there from doing certain things, like, say, dope. In other words, we need to provide really nice accommodations for the homeless -- nicer than the non-homeless -- while also allowing the formerly homeless to continue to do drugs. Right?

Congrats, it's perspectives like this that got a Republican elected citywide in Seattle for the first time in decades.


They are called bum’s for a reason.


@4: “They could build their own housing for themselves and each other…”

Yes, homeless persons building un-permitted structures to no construction codes, with materials scavenged from god-knows-where: what could possibly go wrong?

“…if Cuba and company are content where they are and not actively harming anyone, to leave them alone at least for now…”

And if any of the dozens of persons in this fire-trap meet horrible ends, you’ll feel great about that? (And @4 etc. will promptly blame Seattle for allowing it to happen.)

We have building and occupancy codes for right and good reasons, often based in painful deaths which were completely preventable. Natter on about history and rights all you want, but allowing people who already don’t like following rules to live in such conditions invites disaster.

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