City crews are at work in Capitol Hill’s tiny Broadway Hill Park after Wednesday morning’s deadline for removing personal property from the public greenspace.

Seattle Parks and the Human Services Department say two people living in the park were referred to shelter at the Executive Hotel Pacific, one of the city-leased in a “shelter surge” effort to move more people out of camps as COVID-19 slows. One of the referrals came Wednesday morning, the city says, while five others “voluntarily relocated out of the park.”

Policy requires crews to store “personal items” recovered during sweeps. A bin of belongings was reportedly stored from the Broadway Hill clearance.

The sweep follows the clearance of camps at the Miller playfield and Meany Middle School campus just before the return of students to in-person classes last month. Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office said the city’s Homelessness Outreach and Provider Ecosystem (HOPE) Team outreach efforts reported 30 people were referred to shelter before the camp removal work and clean-up.

Seattle’s ongoing “shelter surge” includes leasing rooms in two downtown hotels. The city says the HOPE Team has made “at least 130 referrals to shelter from high-priority sites such as Rainier Playfield, Miller Park, University Playground, Gilman Playground, and Albert Davis Park” over the past month.

Broadway Hill Park is the latest target for the city to sweep and clear. While some neighbors and area businesses have complained about Capitol Hill area encampments, the city has typically provided a public safety explanation for the camp clearances. At Broadway Hill Park, officials blamed a series of encampment fires for making the situation untenable at the corner of Federal and Republican amid the residential blocks just east of Broadway.

“These fires have caused damage to the park,” a Seattle Parks statement released after Wednesday’s start of the clearance and clean-up reads. “After all tents and belongings are gone, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff will work to address this damage.”

Broadway Hill Park is closed to the public during the clean-up with a plan to reopen Thursday.

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