BURIEN, Wash. – A city in the State of Washington was forced to alter the parade route for its 100th Annual Independence Day Celebration in order to avoid an enormous homeless encampment in the area. The “progressive” City of Burien, which is where the muddled mess occurred, is a little more than 10 miles south of Seattle.
The homeless encampment is situated on SW 152nd St. near the entrance of a Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree store. It has grown to about 20 tents facilitating the individuals who’ve taken up residency in the area, the Post Millennial reported.
Debra George leads Discover Burien, a coalition of business owners responsible for making the last-minute decision to alter the parade route.
“It’s best just to err on caution,” George said as alternative plans were placed in motion.
NEW 4TH OF JULY PARADE ROUTE: It's been slightly altered because of the encampment, but organizers it will be a solid show Tuesday, 3pm-5pm. Downtown #Burienhttps://t.co/6qwrXz8FV1 pic.twitter.com/cQqIH3PsPT
— Jonathan Choe Journalist (Seattle) (@choeshow) July 4, 2023
The City of Burien does not have an illegal camping ordinance, much to the dismay of some. The downtown streets are typically lined for the Independence Day celebration with families, children, and tourists seeking to get a glimpse of the floats and marching bands.
As a result, George said they had no choice but to alter the parade route since the city is refusing to remove the encampment.
“I don’t believe it should be in our downtown commercial area,” George grumbled.
Recently, a fire engulfed multiple tents and business owners said they’ve experienced a spike in thefts related to the encampment. Moreover, individuals who appear to be experiencing mental illness and substance abuse roam the area freely while exposing law abiding community members to open-air drug use.
Despite the quality of life issues having a negative impact on the downtown area, city officials refuse to act.
Burien Mayor Sophia Aragon referred to the deterioration as “…a crisis moment,” and added that creating a new ordinance to address the situation will be up for discussion.
However, there is no certainty it will pass since the council is quite divided on the conflict. As the mayor spoke publicly about the issue, men smoked fentanyl behind her, according to the Post Millennial.
Progressive members of the city council believe they should allow the situation to continue until the local government can find housing for everyone or declare a space for a sanctioned encampment.
However, Council Member Stephanie Mora said the homeless need to be moved immediately since they have already rejected assistance.
“They were all offered beds, they were all offered services,” Mora said.
Meanwhile, the encampment is growing as others from outside the city have emerged.