Once word got out two days ago that Mayor Jenny Durkan had scheduled a pop-up town hall/resource fair in South Park, the Duwamish Tribe sent a request to supporters:
Come and stand in solidarity with the Duwamish Tribe and add your voice to those requesting Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan support the Duwamish Tribe and acknowledge them as the first people of Seattle.
The mayor did just that, twice, while speaking and answering questions at the South Park Community Center. We recorded her entire appearance on video:
No open-mic questioning at the town hall – city staffers invited attendees to write questions on cards, and chose which ones to ask the mayor, who spoke with Spanish interpretation. We estimated at least 100 in attendance.
The subject of affordable housing came up multiple times. The mayor acknowledged concerns about displacement, insisting that she wanted to ensure that redevelopment “doesn’t push people out of the community … we want to help keep the community here and be your partners.” She invoked the plan to include “community preference” in some housing developments as an anti-displacement tool. (She also acknowledged the presence of two city councilmembers who have led on the issue, Lisa Herbold – whose district includes South Park – and Kshama Sawant.)
The mayor said that while “we want to build as much (housing) as we can, we wan it to be for the people in this community in a way that doesn’t add to gentrification and displacement.” She also said it’s important to have a “pathway for the community to own property in South Park.”
Asked about improving bus service to South Park, she acknowledged the concern but made no commitments, noting only that she had met a day earlier with new SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe to discuss how to “improve transit, biking, pedestrian” conditions “in every part of the city.”
What about a police precinct for South Park (which is served by the Southwest Precinct)? The mayor said that wasn’t anything she had discussed with SPD Chief Carmen Best, but she agreed a “consistent presence” mattered. Asked a bit later about a specific unsolved murder, she brought up Deputy Chief Marc Garth Green (at left in our photo with SW Precinct Capt. Pierre Davis):
Garth Green said the case in question was mostly awaiting DNA-evidence analysis and noted that some other cases already had resulted in arrests.
Community concerns were the subject of other questions, such as the hopes for a community-centric plaza and uncertainty about the South Park Neighborhood Center‘s future. Again, acknowledgments from the mayor, but no promises.
She repeated the Duwamish Tribe acknowledgment while answering a question about South Park’s pollution challenges, particularly air quality, saying air and water had been clean before their lands were taken away.
After a few more questions – including one about “missing middle” housing, which she said could be encouraged in a variety of ways – she wrapped up, cheerily declaring, “Let’s have a great summer!”, then lingering a while for one-on-one conversation.