ENCAMPMENTS IN PARKS? City Councilmembers’ alternative proposals

(UPDATED THURSDAY AFTERNOON with council staff analysis of the differences between the two alternatives)

6:52 PM: Two city councilmembers’ alternative versions of the camping-in-public-places proposal are now part of the agenda for Friday morning’s committee meeting. One is by the Human Services and Public Health Committee’s chair Sally Bagshaw, and the other is by Mike O’Brien, who is sponsor of the original bill. We’re reading them right now but wanted to publish them so you can read them too. First, from Bagshaw:

In hers, the expanded definition of “unsuitable” areas starts at page 6, so if you’re just going to skim, that’s where to start.

And from O’Brien:

For comparison, here’s the week-old draft that was in our story last Friday.

Toplines to come. Though the committee is NOT expected to vote on Friday, the 9:30 am meeting at City Hall is still on, and will include a public-comment period.

10:15 PM: After reading both, here’s a quick summary of the differences: Besides, as mentioned earlier, a more expansive definition of what’s an “unsuitable” location – including all areas of parks, not just the “improved” ones – her bill does not mention vehicles, as the draft we obtained last week did. O’Brien’s alternate bill does mention, as did the draft, coming up with rules about vehicle camping within a few months. Meantime, his mentions setting up an advisory committee to oversee implementation of whatever new rules are passed; Bagshaw’s does not. And finally, hers includes this:

Unsuitable Location Options – Within 30 days of the effective date of this ordinance, the City shall set up additional sanctioned, or managed encampments or spaces where people can safely camp. Such identified spaces and sites shall be numerous and large enough to accommodate the reasonably estimated unsheltered population in need of such outdoor living spaces.

Again, the 9:30 am Friday committee meeting at City Hall is now NOT set to include a vote, but this will be discussed, and there will be public comment. It’ll be live on Seattle Channel, online and cable 21.

ADDED 1:32 PM THURSDAY: If you haven’t thoroughly compared the two alternatives yet, this council-staff memo, just added to the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, does exactly that.

70 Replies to "ENCAMPMENTS IN PARKS? City Councilmembers' alternative proposals"

  • Re: Unsuitable location. October 12, 2016 (7:30 pm)

    Looks like Bagshaw’s draft acknowledges community comments about unsuitable areas for outdoor living space. This draft includes all parts of city
    parks, including sports fields and playgrounds, restored/being restored natural
    , access or maintenance roads, and pedestrian walkways or paths;
    as well as public sidewalks, planting strips, the “Pedestrian Zone” and “Corner
    Curb Radius” of any public sidewalk, any public
    sidewalk that would block access to fire hydrants/utilities or interfere with
    ADA access
    , and areas likely to be or traditionally used as public forums
    under the First Amendment.

  • Mike October 12, 2016 (7:48 pm)

    How about we vote them incompetent and replace the council now.  They still don’t get it.

    • Andy October 13, 2016 (7:10 am)

      Mike, I totally agree. Does anybody know what percentage of our property taxes go to maintaining the city Parks? I would like to propose a tax revolt that would eliminate from property owners that portion that goes to the parks. I do know that 17.7 percent of my taxes go directly to the city. That equates to $680. 6 million dollars. We need a petition to recall the Mayor and all of the City Council. They are out of control. 

  • Bill C October 12, 2016 (8:27 pm)

    They are trying to come up with an answer for a difficult situation.   I do not envy their responsibility.

    My thought – I disagree with the restriction not to use sport fields.

    The most logical option to temporarily house thousands of homeless persons is to use Safeco Field or Century Link Field.   The stadiums have bathrooms that can accommodate thousands, easy surfaces to clean up and haul away tons of trash, and are not located in residential neighborhoods.    The stadiums are ADA accessible for those persons who are mobility impaired.

    Additionally, but stadiums were heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars and this would be a way to utilize them on vast majority of days when they just sit empty, so we could get some return on that investment instead of having to pay millions more for other housing.

    • alki_2008 October 13, 2016 (12:13 am)

      What happens on game days?  Do the homeless pack up their things and stand outside, with all of their belongings, during the game?

      I wonder how attendees will feel about that, especially the tourists that come into Seattle and spend their money at local restaurants/hotels/stores. Those meals at restaurants bring money into the city and sustain restaurants that provide income to restaurant workers.  Those hotel stays bring in tax dollars and help sustain hotels that employ hotel workers.

      • Andy October 13, 2016 (6:13 am)

        House the homeless in the sports arenas? That’s the best idea I’ve heard of.  How about housing some in the Mayor’s backyard? How about on Paul Allen’s property? How about Nick Hanaurer’s property?  How about on every member of the City Council’s property?

        There needs to be a tax revolt! I do not want to pay my share of what I pay in taxes for city parks in order to house the homeless. The Mayor and the Council are totally out of control.

    • sam-c October 13, 2016 (5:46 am)

      I suggested this on the first story about all this….. turn Safeco into a homeless camp. the M’s aren’t using it for the winter….. if they move out in early March, there’s time to restore the field before opening day in April….

      • MsD October 13, 2016 (5:07 pm)

        It seems obvious to me that the reason this is being proposed as a solution is because it allows the City to do even less than they are currently doing.  The homeless are already camping in all these places, and this gives the City an out, actually more of a mandate, to do absolutely nothing.  To me, this looks like a completely cynical move, disguised as typical Seattle-style impotent Progressivism.   

  • New Thinking Needed October 12, 2016 (8:44 pm)

    I heard on the TV news Bagshaw says if the council doesn’t have consensus then they are not voting….that doesn’t sound democratic as far as I understand democratic. Why would they need consensus to have a vote? Why even have a vote then? Where is the Seattle babysitter?

  • flimflam October 12, 2016 (8:51 pm)

     o’brien is such a delusional man. so progressive though.

  • KT October 12, 2016 (9:03 pm)

    When will the City Council stop looking at these “homeless” as people harmed by a horrible economy or personal financial hardship and realize the vast majority are vagrants, drunks, and drug addicts, who are not looking for a solution to their problems, don’t care about the community around them, and consistently refuse offers of help and services.  We wring our hands over them but they don’t care about themselves.  If you were a poor down on their luck soul and forced to live in a tent, would you create a toxic waste dump all around you wherever you go?  We’ve all seen the media interviews of a some of these people with their whining about not liking regulations, not being able to coexist with other people, etc…  Come on.  Now we’re going to create a new protected class of people in the city who are required to meet no standards of behavior and held harmless for their actions because they are “homeless”.  We don’t want to “criminalize homelessness”.  I don’t think SPD has ever  walked up to someone and said “you are under arrest for being homeless”.  Maybe they are under arrest for using the streets and alleys as bathrooms, or drinking/doing drugs in public, and a variety of other anti-social behaviors that are negatively impacting the quality of life in Seattle.  But never for being “homeless”.     Maybe some tough love would help rather than more coddling and enabling.            

    • Chuck October 12, 2016 (9:32 pm)

      Very well said, KT. Thank you. I wish our Council had as much common sense. At least the needle is moving back in the right direction. But I fear that ANY sanctioning of street life/camping will handcuff (no pun intended) our police force when it comes time to enforce current laws. It’s a very slippery slope our Council seems all too eager to step out on. Ironically, the petition and letter writing might just end up being a way to protect them from themselves. 

    • Seattlite October 12, 2016 (11:13 pm)

      KT — Great comments.  From what I understand addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill,  families who lost jobs and homes, but are looking for new jobs so they find new homes are all put into the same barrel.  Why doesn’t the city’s “committee” weed out the temporary homeless that want to work and pay their own way from the perpetual homeless.  The mentally ill should be taken out of this group and sent to facilities for the mentally ill.  That leaves the  addicts, alcoholics for the city to deal with. It just seems the Seattle’s leadership has a hard time following through with details that gets the job done.  What a mess. 

    • David October 13, 2016 (12:47 pm)

      I very much agree with the statement from “KT”.  The homeless people are not accountable to anyone or anything. They are vagabonds.  We as a society should not be providing support for those that do not take the hand up that is available to them.  As a city of Tacoma resident mentioned, Salt Lake City has built housing units, small and functional, but safe to the occupant. They house mentally ill and alcoholics. I understand one can still consume there addiction as long as it doesn’t interfere with their neighbors. (maybe fact check that one) Their point was to house first, rehabilitate second.

      Those that reject our presently available shelters and any future housing need to be evicted and not tolerated. The mentally ill truly need a different approach, but they are not the majority in this group.

      Seattle should not perpetuate this issue.   Portland has recently tried this very proposal and camping exploded to the point the city and green spaces are a mess and the police are overwhelmed. Portland is ending the trial period early.

      To provide the campers “free” space in our green belts and parks is destroying the hard work of all those who have come before us, and the green spaces themselves.  Look at the present tent spaces. Our green spaces are there because society recognized the need for a touch of nature while living in a city.  A refuge from the pressures of work and city scape, not the garbage laden, criminally active danger zones they will become in short order. If the police are, as they should be, fearful of this population, what are we to do? 

      The proposals of city conduct are foolish to the nth degree. The fact that the homeless can claim the city violated any of the multitude of upcoming ordinances and get paid $50 per ordinance violation and the Judge is the civil rights office, is frosting on the ludicrous cake.

      I have two daughters; we won’t be visiting the park anymore.

      Yes, my tax contribution has crossed my mind. It isn’t just park money anymore. The Seattle Times has a good overview of the upcoming plan which will dwarf any parks tax bill.

      The city council was voted into power.  Who voted?  Honestly

  • Chris Cowman October 12, 2016 (9:12 pm)

    Same pig with new lipstick.. No to camping in Seattle…

    Set up three large city run (no by service providers) with services.  If you want to camp in the city it is required to stay there. 

  • trevor October 12, 2016 (10:05 pm)

    Lets build a homeless shelter where the new stadium was supposed to go. I bet they would vacate the street for that. I will still pay the $50 tax a year based on my house appraised at $300k. We need to get this fixed,

    • Sparkles October 13, 2016 (10:58 am)

      Trevor – that’s a good idea.  As long as I’m guaranteed NEVER to be hit up for a new levy (I’m okay with renewing this one for upkeep) for affordable housing and vagrancy laws are strictly enforced (no panhandling, no laying on sidewalks), I’d totally vote for that.

       I’m tired of the 1/2 solutions and the patchwork of ineffective (possibly self serving?) private support providers that can’t even put a dent in the problem.  

  • ACG October 12, 2016 (10:09 pm)

    Read both of the proposals.  NO to Bagshaw’s and NO to O’Brien’s.  Even with Bagshaw’s attempts to prohibit some areas of parks from camping, once you open the door slightly, they will take it and run with it, ignoring those barriers.  And the response to remove those campers will be woefully understaffed and undermanaged.  Portland found the same thing- when they allowed some provisions for camping, the homeless population did not play by the rules that were given and it turned into a big mess.  Luckily they only gave it a 6 month trial run, while we here in Seattle are going to let it continue for 2 years.

     No and No. 

     No camping in the parks, period.  No.   People, we need to hold the line on this one.  No compromises for camping in our parks.  No.

    • Citizen Sane October 13, 2016 (9:34 am)

      News flash: if you’ve been following the ‘Welcome to Murraysville’ and ‘Safe Seattle’ FB pages, the addicts, drunks and vagrants are already jumping the gun and setting up encampments in city parks. Visit those sites and you will see pictures of tents on soccer fields, in sensitive wetlands at Greenlake, taking over picnic shelters at Woodland Park, etc. Soccer teams now have to police their pitch for needles before a game!

      This is an incredibly wrongheaded idea. The Council is doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. The truth of the matter is that we currently spend $50million a year on the homeless. That’s the third-highest amount in the country. We need to do a triage, and re-focus our efforts on the people who (a) truly can’t help themselves, and (b) are willing to help themselves, get off drugs, etc. The rest we just roust and roust and roust again until they either come in from the cold and accept help – ON OUR TERMS, NOT THEIRS – or leave the city. Where they go, I don’t care.

      Rather than allow vagrants to camp wherever they want (which will cost a pile to search out and provide toilets and dumpsters for each one) we should set aside space for a limited number of supervised camping sites with adequate sanitation, opportunities for rehab and assistance, and strict rules of conduct. All other campsites must be removed upon discovery.

      Harsh to some, but this will get results. The current City Council plan does not help; it only enables.

  • Atomicoven October 12, 2016 (10:19 pm)

    I sold my house in May not because of this particular situation but because of how this Mayor, Council and City wish to govern. It’s inexcusable and I will not stay much longer. Renting gives me that opportunity. Count another upper middle class individual who will leave when I can take no more. Dollars lost. Go ahead and criticize me that’s fine.

  • Morgan October 12, 2016 (10:54 pm)

    Solution to homelessness is simpler than we make it. Build homes. Give housing to people—not just shelters.  Housing first. Services second. Camping in public places is madness. Save the parks. If you must tax us more to build houses, please just ask that of me. May be surprised at my vote.  Please, please, please Don’t browbeat us with threats of homeless camps in loved parks and other misguided ideas that do not actually work to help ameliorate the fundamental problem (more people than homes) exacerbates social tensions, postures as fake compassion  and does not even comport with expert opinions. We can manage our city better than this. 

    • Sparkles October 13, 2016 (11:16 am)

      Extremely well said Morgan.

  • steve October 12, 2016 (11:04 pm)

    Let ’em do it.  I’ll put  a  big sign on the back of my vans,  parked at each affected park,  “Brought to you by the city council.”

  • Bugsy October 12, 2016 (11:06 pm)

    So, since the Jungle is working so well the Council wants to open up all parks to camping?  This is total madness.  It’s not a solution, and once “some” camping is allowed in the parks, where people camp (unsafe vs. safe, protected vs. unprotected, blah blah blah…) none of that will matter because the boundaries will be unenforceable.  The police cannot be expected to keep the homeless camping to the designated areas.  This is one of the stupidest public policy ideas I have ever heard of.  We need to shut this down completely.  

    The solution to homelessness is not camping in parks.  It’s called housing.  It will take money, and time, but this bill will make matters worse, not better.

    What will the Council say when the first kid chasing a ball in a park stumbles on a homeless person’s tent and it doesn’t end well?   Think, people, think.

  • alki_2008 October 13, 2016 (12:23 am)

    Read through the two alternate versions and feel that Bagshaw’s is much better then O’Brien’s, although I’m not convinced that either version is a good long-term solution.

    Some differences I noted:

    Bagshaw has a wider definition of what locations are unsuitable/unsafe, removes the fine paid to each homeless person, removes a notice period for removing homeless from unsuitable/unsafe locations.

    O’Brien still has the $50 fine paid to the homeless person and requires 24 hour notice to remove homeless from unsuitable/unsafe locations.

    Both alternate versions include a 2 year sunset clause, which I didn’t see in the original version. Having a sunset clause is good. I’d like to see a shorter timeframe though.

  • Chris October 13, 2016 (3:35 am)

    Do not know if any of this is available or not at this point however a someone suggested converting any empty warehouses for use by the homeless.     We know a person that has been on the senior housing list (SHA) for almost two years now.   He calls in each month to stay on the list.   By no fault of his own,  he lost his home due to the sale of the building and all renters were asked to leave.   It took lots of frantic looking and found something last moment he could afford though now it appears it is in jeopardy.   The waiting list for this and also for low cost housing is apparently long.   He was told at one time it was a 5 year wait for the low cost housing, which list he is not on.    He is scared what might happen.

    As to homeless camps in our public parks, etc.   not in agreement.   The people need better help than that per the  comments above.   With all the major building here in West Seattle appears nothing for them???   Rents are sky high and going higher.   I know people that have moved out of West Seattle to get away to somewhere more reasonable and several others right now looking in other states.

    Hope everyone gets out and votes!

  • John October 13, 2016 (6:00 am)

    As far as I can tell Bagshaw’s proposal still opens the door to camping  in  some areas of our parks and in green belts. Any legislation needs to clearly prohibit  ANY camping  in  these areas.  

  • Double Dub Resident October 13, 2016 (6:22 am)

       This is absolutely asinine! Where is this supposed homeless czar making $150,000 a year this city hired at? 

       The first thing this city do is to dissolve this position. It’s useless. 

    I was just talking to a couple of police officers who have dealt with the Jungle on numerous occasions about this and how this city actually wants to legalize homeless camping at Roxhill Park where I take my daughter to play and is also right next to AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!!

       They just laughed and said to expect a rise in “petty crime”. drug use, assaults, prostitution, sexual assaults, garbage, the finding of drug paraphernalia, etc. and before the criticisms come out, these guys actually had to deal with people in the Jungle time and again. They know first hand what it was all about. Do we really think that the majority of the people who are homeless are a victim of circumstance? Do we really think it all has to do with property values?

    There are people who have lived in the Jungle for years and who have no desire to go to a shelter because they have “rules”! Heaven forbid, can you imagine? Rules!!! You know, the same kind of rules we have to follow. Do I want to continue to live in my house? Then I have to follow the rule of going to work everyday so that I can make money to continue to do so. Do I want to stay out of jail? Then I have to follow a long list of rules. 

    On top of that, every police officer I have talked to about the Jungle has said that one of the most surprising things they found was that almost every homeless person had a cell phone, and not some outdated flip phone. Smart phones. I thought they were exaggerating until I saw this:


    I guess that makes sense now about the couple who lived in the Jungle for over 6 years and were interviewed for an article had taken many selfies of themselves and their 4 cats. This couple didn’t want to go to a shelter because they had “rules”. Instead, they lived down the street from the methadone clinic which they frequently visited. And in the 6 years they lived there, not one job.  And this is the “thinking” I’m talking about, you can’t even take care of yourself, so you take on the burden of trying to take care of others, even if they are pets?

    It has gotten so bad down there that Charles Street, which is a City of Seattle entity, has began locking their gates (which have always been open) and the only way to get in now is if you have a city reader card.

      And so these “city leaders”, I use that term very loosely, are thinking that disbursing these people all throughout the city in public parks where children play and some of which are next to schools is a good idea?!! Are you kidding? The Parks Department is already stretched thin! The Police Department is already stretched thin! And due to this asinine idea we’re going to have much larger issues on this!!

      And thanks to this wonderful idea I’m not sure I’m going to take my daughter to the park any longer. This is opening up just primed for some lawsuits. Wait until the first kid (Heaven forbid) gets stuck with a dirty needle laying around the park or someone gets assaulted (something I saw more than a few times when I lived in lower Queen Anne). The you know what is going to hit the fan and I hope this city gets sued. 

      Here’s a fun fact.   Every police officer I know, and I know quite a few, has moved out of Seattle and has given the same exact answer for doing so…….this kind of asinine thinking by our city’s so called leaders.

  • Tom October 13, 2016 (7:19 am)

    NO WAY should homeless be allowed to camp in parks, on curbs, under bridges etc…

  • WSMom October 13, 2016 (7:22 am)

    When can we vote all of them out?  

  • Mike October 13, 2016 (7:22 am)

    Remember when littering was illegal?  Those were the good old days.

  • Evil Twin October 13, 2016 (8:02 am)

    Right Mike! There’s a reason we have rules against littering, defecating in public, etc. Thats why we teach our kids to clear their plates, say excuse me, share the swing set. Clearly this whole idea is nuts. But the idea of paying someone a fee because they are in the wrong is completely insane! How about if I get pulled over for speeding on 35th the cop hands me $50 and and escorts me to I-5 where it’s appropriate to go 60mph?

  • Mark schletty October 13, 2016 (8:13 am)

    Tweeking the definitions to “fix” the problems with this ordinance won’t fix it. Killing it completely is the only reasonable fix. If the Councilmembers think tweeking a bad idea will save their reelection hopes they are sadly mistaken. A vote for this or the proposal to upgrade single family zoning will guarantee a vote out of office for those supporting either of them. By the way, i do believe that explicitly permitting homeless camping any place in the city will open the city to liability issues for anything that happens because of it.

  • JoB October 13, 2016 (8:19 am)

    I am willing to bet that most of you have never even spoken with  a homeless person…  except to tell them to get out of your way.
    Worse, you obviously refuse to read any of the research available on the content of Seattle’s homeless population. If you did you would find your assumptions about “them” are about as far off the mark that it is possible to get. 
    Tough love? Do you really think that having no place to go and no place to store anything that you can’t carry isn’t tough love enough? try it for a night.  even on a nice night and you will quickly find it is a whole lot harder than you think. And that’s for healthy people.
    Take a good look at the homeless lady sitting with her shopping cart in the junction.. or by the side of the road.. or asking for grocery money at the driveway to Westwood Village… 
    That is the face of homelessness that you choose to ignore.
    Tell me.. where does she go at night? Do you know? Do you care?
    What about the literal epidemic of children in our schools who don’t have a home to go home to at night? These are parents who obviously care enough about their children to keep them in school, yet you think that tough love is the answer for a kid who doesn’t have a home and is unlikely to get much more to eat than that which is served to them at school?
    how exactly do you expect that to turn out?
    And what about our disabled. If you want to see heartbreak up close and personal..  sit yourself just inside the entrance to Harborview Hospital and watch the number of discharges who leave the hospital with everything they own and no place to rest that night.  Do you think tough love is the answer to their recovery?
    I will tell you what your form of tough love produces..
    it produces people who die at a much earlier age than the rest of the population… because if you weren’t sick or weak to begin with.. living on our streets without proper sleep and nutrition or preventative medical care will quickly ensure that you become ill.
    It produces enormous amounts of wasted taxpayer dollars.. “moving” homeless people from place to place.. often destroying the documentation that is necessary for them to receive even the most vital resources .. 
    it produces children that don’t get enough sleep or nutrition to pay attention in school
    it produces anxiety disorders which lead to or exacerbate other mental health disorders
    it produces crime…  the criminal element is a very small portion of the homeless population but they cause a disproportionate amount of havoc.. and not just crimes against upstanding citizens. Like all criminals they prefer easy prey… and the easiest prey of all are those who suddenly find themselves on our streets.. the weak and vulnerable.
    it produces addiction. It takes a very strong person to reject the illusion of comfort from drugs or alcohol when they find themselves on our streets night after night… and yet.. many do. The real irony in that is that the longer they stay straight the less chance they have of getting into housing programs .. programs designed to take people off drugs and alcohol… 

    I don’t know if that is what you had in mind when you speak of tough love.. but that’s the reality that kind of tough love is producing.

    if we want a different outcome we are going to have to find a better way of dealing with this growing problem.

    • Lina October 13, 2016 (8:57 am)

      Thanks JoB, my thoughts exactly.  I don’t have the answers, I do environmental restoration in parks professionally and personally and am concerned about the potential impacts.  But jeez, the language and tone of this comment thread are dismaying and lacking in a realistic grasp on humanity.

  • watertowerjoey October 13, 2016 (8:43 am)

    I can’t wait to see this evolve as the “wealthy” neighborhood (Magnolia, Queen Anne) start to get special exemptions.

    Neighborhoods like West Seattle will end up with a disproportionate amount of “campers”.  Just watch.

  • miws October 13, 2016 (9:13 am)

    Thank You, Jo….


  • SGG October 13, 2016 (9:28 am)

    WSB should go down to the overpass at East Marginal and lower Spokane St and document what is going on there.  There used to be a few homeless camps down there.  It is a full tent city today, not to mention a toxic waste site.  It would require a hazmat crew to clean up the area including the trail that they have completely trashed.  It looks as though the city or someone even brought them a dumpster, but they aren’t using it.  I don’t know what the answer is to the homeless problem, but perpetuating this is not the answer.

  • Junction Lady October 13, 2016 (9:48 am)

    I agree with Chris Cowmans comment. Plus- Eliminate public camping all together which is currently the law anyway.  Build a basic open air facility and require folks to sleep there, and while its being built have temporary space at either Safeco or Qwest, which ever one is off season.  The facilities could be disinfected daily.  The current situation of individuals could be determined and direction could be given to them about appropriate services that could create a better way of life for people involved.  People in the world have survived oceanic crossings in the bowels of wooden vessels, survived being herded into cattle cars, and amazingly survived the holocaust.  Get it together people and come out the other side being proud of your solutions not having to read about your brazen stupidity towards mankind in Seattles future pages of history.

  • Mike October 13, 2016 (10:17 am)

    No one has mentioned that the majority of the homeless people do not have to stay in Seattle.  They are not prohibited from leaving.  Why choose to be homeless in one of the Top 5 most expensive cities in the country?   There is no way that someone who is currently homeless will have the resources to obtain and save enough money for a deposit and monthly rent in any part of Seattle.   There are a lot of areas of this country that still have places to rent for $400-500 a month.   An entire year worth of living compared to one month of rent and security deposit here.  Obviously the services and available shelters are not here either.  Just because a place exists doesn’t mean you have an absolute right to live there.  I wouldn’t mind a home in Montlake or Medina, but unless I can afford it I should not be trying to live there.

    • WSB October 13, 2016 (10:31 am)

      If you missed it in the original story’s comment thread, rampant homelessness is not unique to Seattle:


      And it’s not just the big cities. I looked up Grand Junction, CO, having lived there for a while long ago.


      If folks are aware of places that don’t have people living on the streets, please link your findings, because perhaps our city can learn from whatever those places are doing.

      • Mike October 13, 2016 (10:50 am)

        I did see your string of articles for other major cities, and agree that every city is bound to have at least some homeless populations.  However, the large number in Seattle and San Francisco is surprising.  But  they should at least give themselves a chance and try to locate a city where you might be able to get back on your feet. 

      • Seattle Park Lover October 13, 2016 (3:33 pm)

        Question regarding Bagshaw’s proposal


        listed as unsuitable per se:

        All parks, unless authorized by Director’s Rule

        Is it the Parks Department Director that would have the authorization?

        • WSB October 13, 2016 (4:44 pm)

          Good question. I generally only have seen Director’s Rules from SDCI (formerly DPD) or SDOT. For Parks, the “director” is the “superintendent.”

  • JoB October 13, 2016 (10:18 am)

    Does anyoen remember when the Sunny Jim factory site was suggested as a homeless encampment site? It had both on site bathrooms and a kitchen.. is totally weatherproof.. 

    but it was decided (after public pressure) that the site was an environmental hazard and taken off the table for discussion… 

    that was during the term of Mayor Nichols.

    Does anyone get yet that passing this “problem” down the road only makes it larger?

    • JoB October 13, 2016 (10:19 am)

      and then there is the fireman’s training facility .. 

      if you don’t want “them” in your parks then you have to agree for someplace for “them” to go.
      because this problem isn’t going to go away.

  • AmandaKH October 13, 2016 (10:33 am)

    We can’t force people to do anything they don’t want to do.  This City seems determined to not meet people where they are, but instead, force us to participate the way they deem appropriate  (not allowing citizens in council chambers, giving them 1 minute to speak, getting rid of the district council system), get off the streets into facilities (over a hundred agencies taking city grant money to help folks in a bad situations, but not providing reasonable options), and ride in designated bike lanes.  People don’t work that way.  People are going to choose the path of least resistance.  How can we be accommodating of those choices, let people face the consequences and yet still maintain a safe environment for all residents? 

  • olivist October 13, 2016 (11:47 am)

    Just came across this online petition in an article today in the Seattle Times for those who might be interested:


  • ACG October 13, 2016 (12:31 pm)

    Well, JoB, I appreciate your perspective, and the journey your life has taken you on.  BUT, this plan does nothing to actually help those people you wrote about, all it does is hide them beneath the greenery in the undeveloped natural spaces of Lincoln Park, Schmitz Park, Fauntleroy Park, Camp Long, Golden Gardens, Woodland Park, etc.  

    We can help those that want to be helped, and yes, we need to finally say no to those who do not.  if that is their choice, then so be it. 

    We could lease terminal 5 from the port- it is unused for the time being.  Easy to bring in portapotties and dumpsters for trash removal.  This current proposal doesn’t create any shelter for them anyway, it just moves them to areas where there are absolutely NO services available in the natural undeveloped areas of our parks (per Bagwell’s motion. )  It simply hides them  out of the main view of sight inside the few areas of natural greenery we have left in our parks and greenbelts.   And, takes those wonderful natural areas of respite away from the wildlife and people who seek solace in those spaces away from the urban hustle.   At least at T-5 services can easily be brought in.  Take all of those empty shipping containers from Hanjin and turn them into temporary shelters. It would be heck of a lot more weather resistant than a tarp or tent.  Vehicles could be brought in there , too.  And in the meantime, help those individuals who need addiction treatment, disability services, job skills retraining, or family support services.  And, get those people to areas where there IS affordable housing.  And guess what… that might not be in Seattle.  Just because you’d LIKE to live somewhere, doesn’t mean you get to.  I’d like to live on the waterfront in Mercer Island.  But guess what, I cannot afford it.  I am not crying or whining or demanding that someone let me live there because I want to but cannot afford it.  So, I had to move to the very southernmost part of the city, in an area I’m not crazy about, because that is what I can afford.  So, maybe some folks will have to be moved out of the city to areas with a lower cost of living so that they can afford to keep a roof over their heads.

    If T5 isn’t an option, look to lease the land from Chris Hansen, as another commenter mentioned.  I’m not in real estate, but what other areas of the city are currently unused?  Convert them.  Mothballed schools, convert them.   There are lots of options besides taking away the natural spaces in our parks from the taxpaying public who vote for tax levy after levy to support those parks. 

     This is not a solution at all.  No camping in our public spaces or anywhere in our public parks.  City Council, do your job and find a solution instead of a cop-out.   


    • ACG October 13, 2016 (1:04 pm)

      I meant to say O’Brien’s proposal (not Bagshaw’s) in my post above.  Sorry, unable to edit. 

    • Kelly October 13, 2016 (1:14 pm)

      I vote you for Mayor. Those are all excellent suggestions. I want to add creating a work system. Nothing in life is free. 

      I could not agree more about why do they choose “to move” (and yes they are moving here) or stay in a place that cannot be sustainable for them. Why choose the top rising cost of living cities in the country and then like you said wonder why the rent is so high. 

      Myself and all of my friends do not live in the most expensive neighborhoods in Seattle and my friends that are just starting in new homes have moved farther North, South and East and are making sacrifices in other areas to make it all work. 

      I’d also like to add I have been to other cities with an absence of this problem and it is such a difference, wow, it’s amazing and yes these cities are much less expensive but also much less accommodating to disrespect. 

  • AceMotel October 13, 2016 (12:52 pm)

    It’s wrong to assume that if someone is against these bills, they are against homeless people.   

    • alki_2008 October 14, 2016 (6:17 pm)


  • BettytheYeti October 13, 2016 (1:21 pm)

    At first I thought  Off- season Safeco field, tax payer funded crazy, but it is on mass transit and has lots of facility toilets etc.  

    Yes,  I am waiting for the Magnolia and Queen Anne exemptions . . . they are coming and they will have them.

    This is a federal problem that the city council is asking property owners to pay for.  You can’t have us funding parks then being afraid to use them because of vagrancy.

  • JoB October 13, 2016 (3:25 pm)

    our homeless populations are already mostly hidden from view in our city’s greenbelts.
    have you not noticed?

    tonight they are camped on the sides of hills that are literally running with water… under trees that are likely to fall if the approaching storm even comes close to matching the Columbus Day Storm.

    They are already wet and cold and without services.

    All the proposed legislation really does is allow them to stay there for a while without having to continually uproot their camp and move it or lose everything they own.

    Better would be to provide trash pickup and sanitary services.
    Even better would be to allow them to camp on flat surfaces and provide trash pickup and sanitary services.
    Better yet would be to provide a roof to shelter them and trash pickup and sanitary services.

    All of those would cost less than what we are paying now.

    Best of course would be to provide stable housing…
    but even i know we can’t ask for everything.

    • alki_2008 October 14, 2016 (6:26 pm)

      “All the proposed legislation really does is allow them to stay there for
      a while without having to continually uproot their camp and move it or
      lose everything they own.”

      Actually, the proposed legislation does more than just “allow them to stay there for a while”.  Both of O’Brien’s versions mandate that the homeless person is paid $50 if the city fails in providing them with any of the services outlined by the proposal.

      The proposals also mandate that services be provided to homeless people at wherever the homeless people choose to camp.  If a group of homeless people choose to camp deep in the greenspace, then how is the city supposed to get a honey bucket to them?  It would seem more feasible for the city to outline which locations are amenable to services, and maybe even areas close to plumbing, and only allow encampments at those places.

      I don’t understand why these proposals are needed to prevent the homeless person from being uprooted. Why doesn’t the city just de-prioritize the removal of homeless people from wherever they are camped?  Do they really need to pass an ordinance for that?

  • M October 13, 2016 (4:40 pm)

    They can modify the proposal all they want. The affected homeless people won’t read the fine print of where it is “suitable” to camp.  ALL they will hear is that camping anywhere is now legal. That is exactly what happened in Portland. 

  • Mike Mahanay October 13, 2016 (5:17 pm)
    It feels like the Council is pushing this down our throats. Who are they working for? 
    To be clear- this is a terrible idea. Not just the first, but any and all revised versions. It does nothing to solve the problem, and in fact make things worse for all involved. Secondary, the ACLU should not be writing bills- that is what we elected a government to do. I did not vote for the ACLU! 
    STOP this stupidity! Camping should not be legal anywhere. Also, I am concerned about the RV’s sprouting up on Harbor Ave now. I like the Terminal 5 idea. All out the campers should be in organized camps that are easily managed- not dispersed!
    I think the City Council and city government need to start spending more time outside in our neighborhoods and parks, the rules are already not enforced.
    • WSB October 13, 2016 (5:32 pm)

      7 rv’s currently, between Verge and Salty’s. Fewer than one recent day when we noted 9. (Added: We then saw an 8th today, by Don Armeni.)

  • Seaweed October 13, 2016 (5:19 pm)

    This is a National crisis that has been growing, and ignored in equal measure. It will take far more resources than any city council has at it’s disposal to solve. Just another example of Federal neglect for the Nations infrastructure.   Any city can deal effectively with simple cases of vagrancy, but this is not that. A very sad statement for our political and economical policies.

  • Fairmount Springs Mom October 13, 2016 (5:49 pm)

    I have been a Seattle resident and taxpayer for 26 years, and I am outraged and surprised that the Council is considering opening up public spaces for camping.  The homeless situation is a sad problem in Seattle. But, punting the problem into all the neighborhoods in Seattle is not the solution.  Codifying camping because people are already doing it is like codifying graffiti or speeding or littering, because a small part of the population participates in those activities as well.  We have laws so we can have a civil society that is safe for people.  I pay taxes so that my kids and I can go to a park or a library or walk down a PUBLIC sidewalk to school.  It is intolerable to think that my kids will have to step around campers, refuse, needles and filth so that they can go to a park, or walk to their elementary school.  If the Council moves ahead with this plan, even with modifications, I hope Seattle voters kick out the whole lot of them.

  • dcn October 13, 2016 (7:54 pm)

    I read Herbold’s letter, and the Seattle Times Article she references called
    “Chaos, Trash, and Tears.” What struck me most about Herbold’s letter is
    that she repeatedly mentions the phrase “unsafe and unsuitable” to
    describe where the council doesn’t want people camping, but she never addresses
    the proposed sanctioned camping in parks and along sidewalks. She doesn’t state
    whether she finds our public parks and sidewalks unsafe or unsuitable. Her only
    point is that she wants to prioritize removing encampments from “unsafe
    and unsuitable” places. 


    It seems to me that she misses the point that most of her constituents are
    writing about. She does say that the council never meant to create a “right to
    camp,” only that they want to have “adequate
    space for people to go where they do not face immediate removal.” By not
    declaring parks unsafe or unsuitable, and putting in a 30 day stay provision
    for these areas, the council is indeed creating a “right to camp” in our parks.


    I was left disappointed in Herbold’s long and detailed response to her
    constituents. I’m glad WSB posted it, because although Herbold said she sent
    this email to everyone who had written her, I didn’t receive it. The only
    council member I did hear from was Rob Johnson from District 4. He also made
    mention of “unsafe and unsuitable,” and only defined “unsuitable location to mean a public space that has a specific public use that would
    substantially impeded
    as a result of an outdoor living space in that location.”
    That leaves a lot of room for interpretation. He mentioned only restored and
    improved areas of parks to be unsuitable.


    Our city council
    members still do not understand. I know the issue is complex, but opening up
    our parks because they are somehow more “safe and suitable” for the homeless
    makes the parks less so for the rest of us.

  • Bradley October 13, 2016 (7:58 pm)

    I visited the link above and read Lisa Herbold’s ramblings, which are simply a steaming heap of double-speak. She doesn’t address, at all, our concerns that our beloved parks and greenbelts are going to be turned into dangerous, violence-filled toxic waste dumps or not.

  • JoB October 13, 2016 (8:12 pm)

    has it occurred to you yet that the homeless are also Lisa Herbold’s constituents?

  • dcn October 13, 2016 (8:32 pm)

    JoB, sigh. I specifically mentioned Herbold’s response to her constituents who have written her about their concern for this proposal. She said that she sent this response to those constituents. Do not try to make my post into something it is not. I am not trying to deny the homeless their rights nor their legal residency in Seattle.  I’m only interested in halting illegal residences in our public parks. 

  • Jules October 13, 2016 (10:13 pm)

    JoB….. What exactly would you suggest as an acceptable solution? Seems like you have a lot of judgement to pass on folks who don’t want our parks turned into a dump, but you offer no solutions. Just a bunch of excuses.

    Excuses, excuses, excuses!

  • Jules October 13, 2016 (10:22 pm)

    I also sent Lisa an email and I too hot no response. 


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