LOCAL NEWS

Lines drawn on Seattle homeless camping issue

Oct 11, 2016, 5:26 AM | Updated: Oct 12, 2016, 12:42 pm
Seattle homeless camping...
This is a portion of the map the Seattle City Council is using to determine where homeless camps can set up in the city. (Seattle parks)
(Seattle parks)

The latest public figure to come out against the potential Seattle homeless camping ordinance is Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant.

“The homeless problem in Seattle, and throughout Washington, has gotten worse since I was a volunteer night manager at a homeless shelter 12 years ago,” Bryant said at a news conference Monday.

Bryant, of course, related the homeless problem to his opponent, Democrat Jay Inslee, noting that homelessness has increased in King County by 42 percent within the past four years.

But Bryant’s aim was mainly on the Seattle City Council, which is considering legislation drafted by outside interests to essentially allow camping in public spaces throughout the city. The bill attempts to establish rules and regulations for when homeless camps can be swept and where they can set up. It allows up to 30 days from when a camper is told they have to leave a spot and when they will be forced out.

Related: Letters from Seattle: Homeless crisis and downtown

“(It) would do the opposite and make homelessness even worse,” Bryant said. “Under this proposal parks like Seward Park, Lincoln Park, Woodland Park, and even our arboretum, and 167 miles of sidewalks, would serve as homeless camps. Turning our children’s parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields into homeless camps risk their health and safety.”

“And, relegating some of the most vulnerable in our midst to the margins of our community is not compassionate,” he said. “It deprives them of the assistance they need to put their lives back together and become self-sufficient. Seattle’s proposal moves us in the wrong direction.”

From a statewide perspective, Bryant said that — should he become governor — he will adopt a zero tolerance for camping on state property; allow local authorities to enter state property to oust encampments; and withhold funding from cities that allow homeless camps in playgrounds, parks and on sidewalks.

Related: Gov. Inslee issues grave warning over homelessness

“We should not tolerate a program that forces parents to check a football field for discarded needles before their kids practice,” Bryant said. “We should not tolerate a program that allows those suffering from drugs and mental illness to camp where children play.”

Locals weigh in on Seattle homeless camping issue

Bryant is the latest to oppose the Seattle homeless camping bill, but others have already made their voices heard on the matter.

Safe Seattle is one such group that stands against the idea. The group recently posted a map of the green spaces in Seattle where the council is considering allowing homeless encampments.

The map, which originated from the city parks department, displays a wide range of Seattle’s parks as spaces where homeless people could camp. It includes parks such as Green Lake, Ravenna Park, Discovery Park, and more. Areas close to the city’s core are not included as potential locations — areas such as Cal Anderson Park and Volunteer Park.

As the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog points out, the fine print on the maps note that there remains some decisions to be made. In particular, the issue of what is suitable and unsuitable areas for camping. The issue of what is “suitable” and “unsuitable” for camping spots in Seattle has been a lingering decision for the council to make.

Q13 reports, however, that the Seattle Department of Transportation submitted another map for Seattle homeless camping. It details for city officials which sidewalks and other street sides are apt for campers — it totals nearly 170 miles of sidewalks and park spaces for potential camps.

Many of the roads on SDOT’s map run through the downtown Seattle core, and it also includes small sidewalks near Capitol Hill and inner Seattle parks.

Many roads are concentrated in Fremont and Ballard for Seattle homeless camping. Also along the north waterfront of Lake Union, near where Wallingford residents worked to move roadside RVs out. SODO through Georgetown is also targeted, as is Harbor Island. Inner West Seattle has a stretch as well.

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Lines drawn on Seattle homeless camping issue