City of Spokane puts up fencing, clears campers from Sprague/Division underpasses

Downtown fencing
Copyright 4 News Now

SPOKANE – Just days after police and a cleaning crew cleared campers and tents from under the railroad bridge at Sprague and Division, the city has now erected fencing, blocking most of the walkways.

City crews were putting up the fences Thursday morning. Several people who had been camping underneath moved to a sidewalk just northeast of the underpass.

The city previously put up fencing at the Browne underpass near the House of Charity. That decision was met with criticism from homeless advocates, but the fencing remains.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: City of Spokane adds fencing under Browne Street underpass

The new installation is also being met with disapproval. Within minutes of hearing about the move, developer Sheldon Jackson sent an email to Mayor Nadine Woodward expressing his frustration.

“You do understand that when you do this without fixing the problem, you are pushing the problems to other areas, especially areas not in the DSP (Downtown Spokane Partnership). You put a fence at Browne and Division turned to crap, now you put a fence on Division, what do you think is going to happen? You did not solve anything, just made another area worse. Why don’t we just put a big fence around Spokane?” Jackson wrote.

Jackson told 4 News Now that fencing is better for the underpasses, but just moves campers to other areas.

“Division was in good shape until they put up the Browne Street fence. Everyone just moved to Division. Now that they put up a fence at Division they will just move to another location,” he said.

Members of the Spokane City Council also expressed frustration, saying they did not know about the mayor’s directive until they saw it mentioned in a tweet from 4 News Now.

4 News Now has reached out to the mayor’s office for an explanation about the decision. Reporter Elene Dao is set to interview the Woodward Thursday afternoon.

This comes as the city prepares to welcome tens of thousands of people for Hoopfest.

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