Monday, October 3, 2016

So, I contacted my city council member about camping in public places...

The gist of my email was that I was in strong opposition of allowing people to camp in public parks around the city and I urged him to push back against that proposal we've seen floated recently. Here's his response:Thank you for engaging with me and my office about the legislation regarding the City’s unsanctioned encampment cleanup protocols. This issue is extremely challenging and I genuinely appreciate your comments and questions. The legislation has been discussed in two of Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee, and through those conversations, public input, and stakeholder engagement, there has been significant updates that I am eager to report back.I definitely agree with you – people should not be living in outdoor public spaces. And we have to draw the line somewhere with more effective strategies.The legislation’s updates will allow us to be more effective. People will not be allowed to camp in specific places that are problematic to other members of the public. Specific restrictions will prohibit camping on Seattle Public School property or playgrounds, residential sidewalks in front of homes, on sidewalks within commercial zones during “no sitting or lying” hours per SMC 15.48.040, or in our improved city parks among other locations. People will not be allowed to camp on sports fields or playfields and will be removed promptly if they do. But when people find a place to camp that is neither unsafe nor unsuitable, we may allow them to stay until outreach teams can reach them and successfully offer something better.The new legislation will also require a prioritized response from the City to clean up hazardous areas, removing garbage, needles, and offering hygiene facilities where appropriate. Through rule-making, the City will decide how to prioritize areas, and when and how to clean them up.The legislation will also make clear that people who are homeless must comply with our laws. Police, fire fighters and first responders will be part of the solution. Arrests must be made for acts of violent crimes and property crimes. Also, the legislation will clarify that the City will be in no way prohibited to respond to emergency situations.I am also in support of a sunset clause for two years to better determine where we are at that time. My priority is to focus on the larger issues. To address long term solutions, the Mayor’s office has recently come out with proposal to create systemic change in the way we respond to homelessness, called Pathways Home. As we explore this further, I look forward to continuing to work with our Human Service Department and service providers to meet the challenges of housing our unsheltered residents. But we must be realistic. While these measures are underway, people will still be among us living in tents and outdoors and we must manage that problem better and more effectively. That is why we need an ordinance to address encampment cleanups.I am pleased that this progress is being made. Thank you again for the feedback that you have provided and continue to provide. My goal for the legislation has always been to ensure our neighborhoods are clean and safe and to make people’s transitions out of homelessness more successful. Your input and my engagement with business and community leaders has been helpful in making updates and reaching the goal. Please let me know if I can answer any more questions and I look forward to any additional feedback you may provide.In Community,Councilmember Mike O’BrienChair, Sustainability and Transportation CommitteeThat's it, just thought the subreddit would be interested to see this. via /r/SeattleWA

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