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Seattle builds heavy-duty fences beneath Spokane Street Viaduct to keep homeless out

The City of Seattle is installing several “anti-climb” and “anti-cut” fences around empty city lots beneath the Spokane Street Viaduct. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The City of Seattle is installing several “anti-climb” and “anti-cut” fences around empty city lots beneath the Spokane Street Viaduct.

The tall fences, complete with ultra-barrier spikes on top, will make it hard for people to cut or climb their way into the lots where homeless encampments used to sit.

Hundreds of homeless people used to sleep in that area until sweeps by the city cleared them out.

Earlier this year, a large fire burned through two RVs in that area as well.

The city says that fire, and others in the area, did not damage the bridge above, but they worry that the next fire could threaten the infrastructure of the viaduct.

So, the city is increasing its effort to keep people out. They’ve been replacing temporary fencing with the new heavy duty alternative.

The “anti-climb” fences already surround several lots beneath the Spokane Street Viaduct, and at least two others appear to have wiring coming soon.

Mark Benezra owns Buffalo Industries LLC, which sits across the street from one of the new “anti-climb” fences. He said people staying in the encampments used to trespass on their property and make his employees feel unsafe.

“The fencing has been an improvement, at least as far as we’re concerned,” Benezra said. “And I think a lot of the property owners down in SODO feel the same way.”

But, some disagree with the sweeps and the city’s approach to homelessness.

Mike used to live in one of those encampments beneath the Spokane Street Viaduct, and said he understands the city’s position, but he’s scared for his future and for others who need to find a safe alternative.

“It makes it difficult to find a safe place, where they feel safe to go,” Mike said about the new fences.

The city couldn’t say how much the project will cost. As of now, the city said they are not planning to put the fencing in any other areas to keep homeless people out.

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