LOCAL NEWS

King County Council begins debate over standards for homeless camp removals

Jul 28, 2021, 5:23 AM
Seattle homelessness, homeless authority CEO...
A homeless camp in South Lake Union. (Jason Rantz, KTTH)
(Jason Rantz, KTTH)

A proposal that would create rules for when and how a homeless camp is removed in unincorporated King County was discussed Tuesday by the county council’s Local Services Committee.

Interim head of Seattle’s homeless response to leave role

The proposal, sponsored by Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, would create guidance for when a camp should be removed, including if the camp presents a public health hazard, fire danger, violence or criminal activity, or obstructs the access to rights of way or public resources. It would also specify when encampments can’t be removed, including in instances where there’s a lack of available shelter space.

“It is far from compassionate to leave people to live outside without the services and shelter that they desperately need,” Dunn said in a written release. “It also isn’t fair for our local community to have public spaces taken over by encampments that pose health and safety risks. This legislation is the balanced, yet assertive, approach that protects the safety of our neighborhoods and provides a path to help those suffering in our County.”

The bill was discussed as part of a larger presentation Tuesday on efforts to address homelessness, and will likely go up for an initial vote “later this year.”

This marks the latest proposal from Dunn related to homeless encampments after a late-June push to condemn a Seattle park neighboring the King County Courthouse as a public safety hazard.

County councilmember aims to condemn downtown Seattle park

City Hall Park — situated along Third Avenue, directly next to the courthouse — has been home to a growing homeless camp over the last year, with many courthouse employees frequently complaining about a subsequent increase in violent crime in the area.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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King County Council begins debate over standards for homeless camp removals