Up top, the sci-fi style enclosure is covered with a green tarpaulin. It has been stuffed with mounds of trash and the sort of detritus commonly seen in other encampments, including clothes and a black plastic crate.
It’s uncertain who dwells in the treehouse and no residents were noticeable during Choe’s visit. The Ewok Village appeared in Return of the Jedi, the 1983 movie that was the third in the original Star Wars trilogy. But unlike the location that salutes Seattle locals, it was a peaceful and unspoiled location home to a tribe of Ewoks – furry creatures native to the fictional moon of Endor.
He said of the discovery: ‘After all the smoke cleared Friday afternoon, I went into the I-5 homeless encampment in downtown Seattle and found someone living up high in the evergreens. It’s like the EWOK Village scene from Return of the Jedi.
Earlier this month, Seattle hit the headlines after a swimming pool was erected at a separate homeless encampment which suffered a murder in May, with senior citizens living near to the ghetto left frightened by its existance.
In addition to the tree dwelling individual, Choe discovered a man building a complex underground cave tunnel structure.
‘I met one guy who is extremely talented and should be working, said Choe accompanying a footage he took of the cave and its architect. ‘He built one of the craziest encampments I have ever seen with an underground tunnel system in the works.’
The sheer sophistication of the structure astonished Choe as it implied a level of engineering skill beyond the typical makeshift dwellings discovered in homeless communities.
‘But the state might want to get on this ASAP,’ he added. ‘Imagine if this collapses on someone? Why take the risk? Only in Seattle.’
After complimenting the skills and craftsmanship of the man he calls ‘Jesse,’ Choe asked: ‘Why don’t you be an architect?’
To which the man explained that he can’t get a job because he didn’t go to school, but if he was offered one, he would take it.
Jesse said he built the structure because he had no job, no money, and struggled with drug use.
The Seattle encampment is situated on Washington State Department of Transportation property, Choe said, as he toured the property, stopping at various tents that were surrounded by trash and debris.
‘I counted at least 40 suspected situations,’ he said. ‘Lots of drug use, trash, and no doubt there is run off going into the waterways. It’s an environmental disaster in the making.’
What initially drew attention to the West Seattle homeless encampment, was a fully inflated adult-sized swimming pool, which became a controversial topic in recent weeks.
Homeowners in Highland Park – where the median house price is nearly $600,000 – said the addition feels like a slap in the face after months of voicing their concerns.
Video captured by KOMO shows one woman sitting on a couch next to the pool and smoking fentanyl in broad daylight.
The encampment witnessed a recent murder, as well as theft and open air drug use – but the sight of a new inflatable swimming pool was what really threw neighbors off the edge.
However, officials in the crime-ridden city are dragging their heels with removing it, despite outrage from law-abiding taxpayers living nearby.
‘When I hear the shooting, I stay down and away from the windows,’ said a neighbor Cheryl Galyeam. ‘There are times I’ve had to get on the floor in the middle of the night.
Last week, Choe spoke with the woman who set up the pool and lives on the property, Monica Parrish.
Parrish told Choe that the homeless are getting a bad rap and all she was trying to do was bring some ‘positivity’ to the community.
Choe asked if she was aware that the state might come and clear the area soon.
Parrish said she heard the plans to clear out the encampment are rumored to occur within the next one to two months.
‘So why build all this if you’re time is limited here?’ Choe asked.
‘I guess I was hoping for something a little different,’ Parrish said while tearing up. ‘I hate to see it go, but for the time being I wanted it to be nice, to look nice.’
‘I was hoping it would be something I could keep, and hang on to, and maintain … but it doesn’t see like that’s going to be a choice that we are going to be able to make,’ she added.
Since then, Choe said he has been venturing out and exploring the constellation of mini encampments in the deep woods nearby.
Some of the inhabitants, however, are not pleased with his investigation.
‘Who is that?’ one disgruntled man asked as Choe walked toward his tent. ‘Why are you walking into peoples camps man?’
Choe ignored the man’s question and asked: ‘How long have you been here?’ to which the man replied: ‘Over a year.’
— Andy Ngô ????️???? (@MrAndyNgo) July 22, 2023