Hand picking a few people in the community who will further your agenda?? Really?
Seattle City Councilmembers Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda, and Kshama Sawant… are you listening?
A Change.org petition against Council Bill (CB) 119796 has garnered close to 2,500 signatures in 48 hours—signed by residents, business owners, visitors, and elders of the Chinatown International-District (CID).
The bill seeks to restrict the Navigation Team’s authority to remove unsanctioned encampments—the same Navigation Team that removed two unauthorized encampments this week in response to growing public health and safety concerns: On May 20, the encampment under the I-5 freeway on King Street, and on May 21, the encampment on South Weller Street from 12th Avenue South to Rainier Avenue South.
The City’s Homelessness Response Blog stated the encampments were removed “based on recent public safety issues … deteriorating conditions … including human biowaste, needles, garbage … Additionally, the Seattle Fire Department has reported 23 fires in the area of the two encampments related to homelessness since March 1, presenting an immediate fire and safety hazard.”
Community member Sue-May Eng said, “There’s nothing in [CB 119796] as far as an exception for camp removal when it comes to public safety… whether there’s crime, drug dealing, shootings, or stabbings.”
The petition reads, “We have heard Councilmember Morales say that the CID does not support encampment removal. None of us have been contacted by Councilmember Morales as she claimed.”
Eng said, “I think [the Councilmembers] know if they want backing, they know what pocket of the neighborhood to talk to get someone to say something that supports what they’re trying to do.”
Chong Wa Benevolent Association President Mei-Jui Lin said the City needs to truly engage with the community as a whole, not just a few yes-men.
“We want to help [the homeless],” said Lin. “But it’s not fair to say that you can’t remove them. We need a solid plan in place to help them long term… to put them in a safe, healthy place within a reasonable time frame.” Lin wrote an open letter to the City Council last week about this issue and said she got no response from Morales.
Both Lin and Eng are worried that the City Council is trying to sneak in this bill under the radar, without community input.
“They are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation with people unable to be at City Hall and speak in person and physically protest,” said Eng.
The Council is set to decide on CB 119796 on May 27. The bill’s sponsors are: