City Threatens to Fine Owner of Duplex Taken Over By Occupy Protesters

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee December 20, 2011

City officials have told the owner of a Central District home taken over by Occupy Seattle protesters that he could face thousands of dollars in fines for allowing the protesters to continue to squat on his property.

On December 14, the city's Department of Planning and Development sent the property owner a letter informing him that a lack of running water and power at the house "threatens the health and safety of the occupants," and that occupancy "must be discontinued." Curiously, photos posted by someone living in the house indicate they've managed to scrounge power from somewhere to run a lamp and laptop computer.

Protesters moved into the vacant duplex on 23rd Ave. and Alder St. last month—which they dubbed Turritopsis Nutricula, after a supposedly immortal jellyfish—and said they planned to stay in the home indefinitely. Protesters have identified the owner as a "current executive at BET and former employee of Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and MTV"—which PubliCola was unable to confirm—and claim he has "taken his time" evicting them from the home because of his "sympathy for the movement."

PubliCola could not reach the property owner for comment.

The city's letter gave the owner until December 16 to clear out the house, and said he could be facing penalties between $100 and $1,000 a day if the squatters stayed in the home.

While the city's deadline has passed, protesters  are still apparently living in the home.

Seattle police have already have already evicted protesters from another Central District home, department sources tell PubliCola SPD hasn't removed Occupiers from the 23rd and Alder duplex because the owner is concerned about liability issues that could arise from a forced eviction.

A DPD spokesman told PubliCola the city is "delaying further action" because the owner has began the "legal process for vacating the tenants."

It's not yet clear whether the protesters at the 23rd and Alder home could face prosecution for squatting in the home, but the city certainly hasn't been shy about filing charges against Occupy Seattle protesters

Sixteen Occupy Seattle protesters arrested during a party/protest/takeover at a vacant warehouse on 10th Ave. and Union St. earlier this month are now facing charges, according to the city attorney's office.

About 50 protesters took over the warehouse—which is slated for demolition—for a short-lived demonstration on December 2. A SWAT team later entered the building and arrested 16 protesters. Dozens of other protesters fled the warehouse using an escape slide.

The protesters are scheduled to appear in court in January.
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