The Park

Proposed Law Could Make Homeless Encampments Legal In Green Lake Park and Across Seattle

October 23, 2017 3:43pm


Last Fall we wrote about a proposed law that was endorsed by city council member, Mike O’Brien, 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. According to Speak Out Seattle, more than 21,000 signatures were gathered in just six days rejecting that proposed law. Based on the emails, calls and signatures in opposition, the Seattle City Council decided not to even take a vote on the proposal.

Now, a similar proposal is being discussed.

That proposal would defund a program that provides Navigation Teams (a group of social workers and other service providers that work with law enforcement to provide encampment inhabitants with the resources they need to find housing). According to Speak Out Seattle, the proposal would also “ban the city from providing any services that would aid in removing unsafe encampments.” The proposal would also “prevent the city from taking any action to remove dangerous and illegal encampments in “inactive” parts of parks where plants, trees and shrubs grow or in areas where an activity is not currently taking place, as well as parking strips, trailside greenspaces, hillsides, ravines and bridge underpasses, to name but a few.”

Greenlakers, here’s what you can do:

Sign the petition before the City Council’s final budget meeting on November 1. The ipetition circulating has more than 2,000 signatures and helps send a strong message to City Council members that this is not the right approach.

Stay informed: The stats are mind boggling. And the problem is only getting worse.

Special thanks to the several citizens that emailed us over the weekend to tell us about this proposal! The only way a democracy works is through informed citizens like you.

  • please no

  • This is INSANE!

  • Ugh. Quoting Speak Out Seattle? Really?? Link to the actual proposal please instead of a gross and racist group.

    • 61stmama

      Don’t worry. That CityLiving article is a mess of misinformation. No one from Speak Out Seattle was at the Milo event. NSA is a different group than Speak Out Seattle — I’ve been following along and there’s no reason to confuse them. I’m afraid that “reporting” is way off the mark.

    • NBXSeattle

      How about we all DEMAND a complete audit of the finances going in for the homeless issue. How much of our valuable tax dollars is being spent and where? News flash people – homelessness is a *business* for many, and City Council is in cahoots with the likes of Sharon Lee of LIHI and Scott Morrow of SHARE/WHEEL. Follow the money trail of corruption.

    • jitterbalm

      We are not racist.

    • Elisabeth James

      This is a very offensive and misinformed comment. I am the founder of SOS! We represent people of all backgrounds and political parties (but are mostly liberal). Our litmus test: do you want to help people living in desperate circumstances transcend to their highest potential? If so, join our group as we want each person to achieve their highest potential. PS, the environment matters to us and our future generations.

      The Navigation Team has provided compassionate options to living in dangerous unauthorized camps where crime, including rapes, murders, assaults, are common. Please sign our petition.

    • John

      Sarah, no one from Speak Out Seattle was at the event mentioned in the article. And, to my knowledge, the authors of that article have not met with or interviewed anyone in our group. We are a non-partisan organization that advocates for evidence-based solutions. Everyone in our organization has a family member or friend who is suffering from drug addiction. We advocate for shelter and treatment for the homeless – not public camping and neglect. Please take some time to read about who we are on our website at My personal political leanings are progressive and liberal. I caucused for every Democratic presidential candidate for the past 35 years and I was an alternate delegate for Bernie Sanders in the last election. That said, we are a non partisan organization that has brought together Seattleites who are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We want to steer our city leaders to solutions that work rather than doubling down on solutions that do not. We would welcome you to join us. I’d can make myself available for a cup of coffee with you or anyone else who would like to learn more about our organization. John Wisdom, Co-Chair, Speak Out Seattle

  • So, what’s the better, more immediate/life saving, more humane solution on the table, then, for our fellow Seattle /king co citizens who are experiencing homelessness?

    Rather than (arguably) hyperbole, couldn’t the piece be titled : “unused wild parts of parks dept land (not entire parks) and other specifically designated open spaces to be okayed for long term camping”? …

    • Kate Gregory

      Tres, there is a huge environmental impact on green spaces from camping. The encampment outside Ballard Locks destroyed the forest under story and then the large trees started dying. The parks need healthy, non-active areas as well.

  • Every day on my commute I see homeless people walking along the freeway to get from camp to camp. This is so dangerous for them and everyone on the road. I can’t believe the law could allow something so clearly unsafe to happen because…there are no better options?

    • Agree it’s unsafe along State DOT (freeway) property, but this ordinance (And Mike O Brien) doesn’t have power over those lands. This proposal is just city/municipal.

  • Moon supports this idea.