King County Council approves land swap agreement for City Hall Park

Dec 14, 2021, 4:11 PM
Seattle, city hall park, homeless, King County Courthouse...
City Hall Park in Seattle, adjacent the King County Courthouse. (KTTH, Jason Rantz)
(KTTH, Jason Rantz)

The King County Council approved legislation Tuesday to turn Seattle’s City Hall Park over to the county, in exchange for several county-owned properties within the city.

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

The legislation passed by a vote of 7-2. Councilmembers Girmay Zahilay and Joe McDermott voted against the measure.

Under the agreement, the county would take control of the roughly half-acre park next to the King County Courthouse, and the city would get 13 parcels of land in exchange, most of them bordering existing city parks and totaling 1.35 acres.

The Seattle City Council must approve the swap before the transfer is finalized. A vote is expected in January.

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles was a co-sponsor of the legislation that passed Tuesday.

“This action begins a new day of stewardship for this long-neglected space and I hope nearby residents, businesses, visitors, courthouse users and workers will join us in reimagining this vital area,” Kohl-Welles wrote in a statement. “By working together, we will ensure this space is inclusive, recreational and safe, and we can make certain the community knows that any movement toward making this space anything but open will be subject to robust public engagement. I appreciate the collaboration of Executive Constantine and Mayor Durkan in making this change a reality.”

Councilmember Reagan Dunn previously raised concerns about the violence and crime in City Hall Park, and pushed to condemn the park as a hazard to public health, safety, and welfare. That effort did not pass at the county council, but legislation to seek options to acquire the park and explore future plans and uses of the park did pass on Oct. 19.

Dunn also co-sponsored the legislation that passed Tuesday with Kohl-Welles and Pete von Reichbauer.

“Today’s acquisition of City Hall Park is a major victory that allows King County to reclaim the park for taxpayers while working to create a safe environment around the King County Courthouse for our employees, jurors, and all who need to access government services,” Dunn said in a written statement. “For too long, encampments have been allowed to multiply and expand across King County without intervention — but with this acquisition, King County shows that we can take back our public spaces for everyone to enjoy.”

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King County Council approves land swap agreement for City Hall Park