New Law Could Open Green Lake and Other Parks to Homeless Camping

October 10, 2016 6:08am


Drive through just about any part of the city and you will probably see a tent or two – under the freeways and right here in Green Lake Park.  And as the Mayor and City Council struggle to find solutions, one proposal surfaced recently that stopped us in our tracks.

A month ago Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien (Green Lake’s District 6 rep) proposed legislation that would allow homeless individuals to camp legally in areas of the city that are currently illegal including some parks, greenbelts, school grounds and sidewalks. More troubling to many opposed to this law is that it creates a convoluted process for removing the campers, specifically a $250 penatly (per violation) payable to the individual camper by city taxpayers if the process of removal is violated.

The only council member to oppose this proposed law, Tim Burgess, recently issued a warning to the public through a City newsletter where he said:

“Read the proposed new camping legislation carefully. It contains a few key phrases that require the city government to allow camping on public property for at least 30 days per location. In addition, even when an encampment is in an unsafe or unsuitable location, the City cannot remove it until the City has provided 48 hours’ notice, and must offer the individuals alternative locations in which to camp.
Forget homelessness for a moment. This new legal right to camp in the city cuts across decades of land use policy and zoning requirements designed to minimize use impacts. This new law sweeps those protections away and creates a high impact use—camping on public property as an individual right. For me, this is going too far.”

The Seattle Times recently wrote about what a big mistake this proposed law would be for Seattle.

So what can we do about this?

Write to Councilman Mike O’brien: and tell him what you think about this proposed law.

Attend a meeting: The City Council will consider the camping legislation at a special meeting of the Human Services and Public Health Committee on Friday, October 14 at 9:30 a.m. on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

UPDATE: Here’s another way to help: Sign this petition that started circulating less than 24 hours ago and has more than 3,000 signatures at the time of this writing.