Local leaders agree to terms on turning troubled City Hall Park over to King County

Nov 19, 2021, 1:30 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2021, 8:30 am
courthouse, Seattle City Hall Park...
A homeless encampment outside City Hall Park in the summer of 2021. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine have come to terms on a deal to transfer City Hall Park to county control.

King County Council to forge ahead on bid to acquire troubled City Hall Park

The agreement — which still requires the approval of both county and city councils — would give King County ownership over the park in exchange for 13 county-owned properties totaling just over an acre, largely located next to parks and green spaces. That would include a lot next to the South Park Bridge and Cesar Chavez Park.

City Hall Park neighbors the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle, and has been the site of homeless encampments, as well as a number of violent incidents. Courthouse employees have frequently spoken out over safety concerns they say stem from activity in the park. In June of 2021, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn pushed to have the park condemned.

On Friday, Constantine cited larger, more overarching goals in acquiring City Hall Park, describing how the agreement would “allow King County to map out a vision for a complete downtown Civic Campus, including exploring reopening the historic Courthouse entrance and engaging the surrounding neighborhoods, while keeping the land for public use.”

Lawmaker calls for Seattle to give county control of City Hall Park following closure

“Ensuring public lands continue to be used for the public good is an important mission not just in open spaces, but within our urban centers as well,” Constantine said in a press release.

This deal would expedite a process kicked off by King County Councilmembers in late October, after commissioning a report to look into options the county might have to acquire the park.

It’s unclear where Seattle councilmembers might stand on the matter, while many on the county council have been vocally supportive. Seattle Councilmember Debora Juarez will be sponsoring the measure on the city side, while County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles will be presenting the agreement at the county level.

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Local leaders agree to terms on turning troubled City Hall Park over to King County