PORT TOWNSEND –– Police have ramped up downtown foot patrols in an effort to counter a rash of trash left at public places by transients and festival-goers.
Port Townsend police spokesman Patrick Fudally said officers regularly found large amounts of garbage — from half-eaten food to empty alcohol containers to blankets — left downtown, particularly at the wave-viewing gallery at Pope Marine Park.
“So many people are leaving food there that it’s now starting to attract raccoons,” Fudally said.
In addition to the random stashes of trash, Fudally reported that graffiti is becoming an increasing problem at the dock.
He also said people are shoving trash between the docks planks.
“I don’t know if that’s something that people are doing as a sort of a trend or what,” he said.
Police ramped up their watch over the area after receiving a number of complaints from workers at neighboring businesses.
City Manager David Timmons said the problem seems to stem from small gatherings of people.
“It’s really just a few people that have been causing issues, but this has been going on all summer,” Timmons said.
In the 112 days between June 1 and last Sunday, officers conducted 128 foot patrols in the city, Fudally said.
“I usually go through there about 2 a.m., and there’s always just trash everywhere,” he said.
While most of the trash seems to be coming from people who are drinking at the seaside park, Fudally said officers have found clothes, blankets and even suitcases left by transients.
“I went down there about 5:30 Tuesday morning, just as I was finishing my shift, and I found three guys from out of town who were getting in their sleeping bags to sleep down there,” he said.
Though it has no barriers to keep people out, the park officially closes at dark.
Fudally suggested that the trash problem might be resolved if the city places trash cans closer to the dock.
“I don’t know that these are the people who would care if there’s a garbage can there, to be honest,” Timmons said.
Timmons said crowds in the dock often use loud, profane language that can chase away people who want to sit at the dock and enjoy its front-row view of Port Townsend Bay.
“I’ve witnessed where some people walked around it because of the swearing that was coming out of there,” he said.
“We want it there for the public to enjoy. And if there are people there abusing the facility to the demise of others, we have to do something about that.”
He suggested the city may start issuing more trespassing citations to those who are misbehaving there.
Both Timmons and Fudally asked those who see abrasive behavior or sleeping on the dock to report it to the city.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.