Seattle offers 'walking maps' ahead of MLB All-Star game to help attendees avoid homeless encampments

Activists have left flyers at RV encampments encouraging them to move their vehicles closer to the stadium, stating, "let's make sure all their work was for nothing."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Many Seattle residents are questioning if city officials are ready for the MLB All-Star Game next week as open-air drug use, crime, and homeless squalor continue to be major problems in the Emerald City.

Now, city leaders may be hoping players, families, and tourists avoid some of the hot spots they have been unable to clear.

3rd Ave has been an open-air drug market and drug den for years. Recently, the city was able to clear the street for the Pride Parade, but the squalor almost immediately came back.

In a recent interview with the UnDivided podcast, Jon Scholes, president, and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, a local business group helping to clean up the city in time for the festivities, was asked by host Brandi Kruse about the crime on 3rd Ave.

Instead of answering the question, Scholes said that “walking paths” had been developed from the hotels for players, their families, and tourists to get from the hotels to the stadium and other events along 2nd and 4th Avenues, but omitted the notorious 3rd Ave.

He also mentioned that “ambassadors” would be present to help people find their way.

A map of the walking paths available on the All-Star Game website shows the walking paths have been designated on 1st Ave and Alaskan Way, once again avoiding 3rd Avenue, which is a transit corridor for buses and could be useful to people who are walking. 

However, the map also omits the King County Metro bus system, despite it being mentioned on the website. The map does mention hotels, tourist sites, light rail, and even bike routes, but leaves out the buses in a city that is constantly prioritizing mass transit over cars.

In fact, King County announced Wednesday that all Metro and Sound Transit services will be fare-free for the two busiest days of the event: Monday, July 10 for the Home Run Derby and Tuesday, July 11 for the MLB All-Star Game.

“The fareboxes and ORCA card readers on Metro buses will be covered to remind customers not to pay. The Transit GO Ticket mobile ticketing app will not allow ticket activations during this period for all Metro services. Sound Transit riders will not need to purchase a ticket from a ticket vending machine to ride Link light rail, Sounder, or ST Express buses. While Sound Transit’s ORCA card readers will remain uncovered, fares will be set to zero should a rider tap an ORCA card.”

Mass transit in the area has been plagued by issues of drug use and homelessness. Recently, Metro bus drivers, already facing serious staffing shortages and route cuts, spoke out about ongoing issues with meth and fentanyl exposure. In response to increasing concerns from the drivers, a local health official claimed that secondhand exposure "just wasn't happening" and stated, "We don't want people to be using in private spaces alone, we want people to be using in a place where, if they overdose, they can be discovered and helped through that overdose."

Until this week, the city has been so ineffective at clearing out the hotspots that some local groups got together to clean up and beautify the area around the stadium. The city council even recently refused to allow the city attorney to prosecute for drug possession and public drug use.

Just under a week away from the All-Star Game, the city has begun a massive effort to clear the encampment, but now activists are attempting to stop efforts to move the squalor away from the area.

KOMO News reported that people have been coming to RV encampments in the area encouraging campers to move their vehicles close to the stadiums next Tuesday at midnight, right before the All-Star Game, knowing that the city cannot ticket or tow them for 72 hours according to their own ordinances.

The flyer read, “When the tailgaters and rich a**holes show up for the big game, they're going to find exactly what the city worked so hard to prevent: us!”

During the city cleanup efforts, after clearing the encampments, the city is dropping large concrete blocks to prevent the campers from returning. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle Department of Transportation had previously threatened business owners who did the same thing to deter campers along their properties.

Crime has gotten so bad that there were recently two attempts to steal firetrucks while they were on calls and a longtime chain Bartell Drugs and other retailers have been shuttering stores. Seattle police response times are up as the city remains short-staffed since the city council defunded the police department in 2020.

In May, a 51-year-old man was stabbed multiple times during an attempted robbery while leaving a downtown Seattle hotel which is close to 3rd Ave and Cherry Street.

On Sunday, a homeless drug addict was arrested after allegedly stabbing another man to death. According to charging documents obtained by The Post Millennial, one witness said he heard the victim saying, “Why are you doing this, I don’t even know you.”

Homicides are on pace to pass last year’s record highs in the city as blood banks beg for donors due to all the violence. Additionally, drug overdoses have already exceeded 2022's total

All-Star Game events began Tuesday with the marquee events beginning this weekend. The last time Seattle hosted an All-Star Game was 2001.
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