I believe Bellingham has a growing problem. Street people have taken over more and more of our public outdoor spaces. They have become increasingly brazen. They set up their camps in pretty much any of our public spaces, either building shelters out of stolen shopping carts and tarps or pitching their tents. Sometimes right on the Greenways trails.
This is not a homogenous group of poor innocents. The majority, I believe, are transients working the I-5 corridor from Bellingham to Portland and south. This is far more than an aesthetic issue. It is about health, safety, public egress and rights. It is about the trash, debris, condoms, needles and excrement left at the street people camp spots.
Street people and transients have rights. The rest of the community also has rights. Do street people’s rights usurp all others? Balance has been lost.
Does this camping on our Greenways trails bother anybody else? Does anybody else report the illegal campers (the police say to call 911)?
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Good intentions are not enough. Allowing free campsites on the Greenways trails and in the parks is not a solution to homelessness, hunger, drug addiction or much of anything else. We need a comprehensive policy/program. The longer we ignore the problem, the more the problem grows. The bigger the problem gets the harder it will be to implement any program.
Dennis DeWitt, Bellingham