It’s time for city leaders to have a “robust discussion” on city policy regarding homeless encampments, City Councilmembers agreed at a committee meeting that just concluded. As first revealed by WSB Forums member JoB in this post last night, the Planning and Land Use Committee was going to consider an amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan that would have suggested the city supports them being hosted by religious institutions, only. That drew opposition in public comment at the start of the committee meeting, and when the item finally came up for discussion, its sponsor, Councilmember Tim Burgess, ultimately withdrew it, after he and other members agreed it’s time for that “robust discussion.” They said Mayor McGinn plans to propose legislation this spring (Burgess said he believes the proposal will open the door for “many more encampments”) that might provide the springboard for that discussion.
This issue is of particular note in West Seattle because the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” has been in a sort of limbo on city-owned land here for almost a year; the mayor told WSB after the encampment’s arrival that he would not seek to have it evicted, but the city has not granted requests to allow the encampment to connect to utilities, so it continues to operate with porta-potties and without running water.
ADDED 3:10 PM: We’ve obtained from the mayor’s office a copy of his e-mail cited by councilmembers at this morning’s meeting, expressing concern about Burgess’s amendment and saying he will be proposing city legislation soon. Read it here.
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