'Circus' panhandler near Fred Meyer finally forced out by the city

'Circus' panhandler near Fred Meyer finally forced out by the city
YAKIMA, Wash. – Balloons, signs, paintings and trash litter the corner of 40th avenue and Powerhouse Road. KIMA got your calls and e-mails about the panhandler who's been set-up here for months.

"I mean just people that pass by in general, tourists maybe, you know people that just go to get gas, maybe get hungry. That just might make them want to think that Yakima's dirty,” Steven Telleze said.

The panhandler sticks balloons all over light poles and his signs reference accepting clothes for St. Jude’s. Neighbors say they see him sleeping and urinating in public. Your comments on our Facebook page say he screams at cars driving by.

And, some neighbors are worried about him being so close to soccer fields.

"Some kids are smart, some are gullible,” Steven said. “You know, just depending what that guy tells them he could lure them into bring them into his little hut or whatever.”

KIMA looked into not only the balloons and the signs but also why this transient who's making a bedroom for himself on city property has yet to be removed.

Police tell me we had to find out who owns the property in order to take action. I pulled county records to find out it actually belongs to the city. After, I went straight to city hall to see what can be done to solve the problem.

"Based on the information that we received from you today, we've put it into the system, which is a complaint-driven system. Our codes folks will look into it as early as tomorrow morning, determine and if so, and it is city property, we'll have them removed,” said Yakima Spokesperson, Randy Beehler.

"I mean, it's their property,” Lacata Peace said “They need to maintain what's going on there.”

Wednesday afternoon, Yakima City Codes officers and police went to the site and determined the man was squatting on public property. They told him to leave and take all of his belongings. Codes officials tell KIMA the man actually had an arrest warrant as well.

"It's always great to see people who are in the local area taking action for our community. And, also that police listened to you guys that quickly, that's awesome," Avi Miller said.

To get all sides, we spoke with the man a few weeks ago. He was reluctant to talk with us and said his family handles his donations. We went back today but he wasn't outside in the cold and rain.