SOUTH SEATTLE — New backlash and backtracking is brewing over a story KOMO News was first to report about the City of Seattle’s plan to have “safe lots” where homeless people can sleep in their cars overnight.
Neighbors in South Seattle confronted city leaders about the lack of transparency in the process at the monthly South Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.
Whether they were for or against safe parking lots, neighbors were riled up, united in their frustration at the City and how it’s handling a potential pilot to give homeless car campers a safe lot to park overnight.
“Mayor Durkan should be here with us right now,” said a neighbor. “I’m really upset with the City for the lack of communication.”
“We should be walking in with the packet that has all the answers that we are here for, instead you have a very pissed off group of people,” added another.
In a letter from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office, officials said at first the City recommended potential sites for safe lots and a permit process had already started — KOMO learned Genesee Park was on the list. But the Mayor’s office is now saying no sites have been chosen and they won’t move forward “without evaluating alternatives and without meaningful community engagement.”
“She is not satisfied with the suggested location,” said Lily Rehrmann with the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department. “She has asked us to look at locations across the city.”
Neighbors said community engagement hasn’t happened no matter if they support the idea or have concerns.
“Shame on you all. All you worship is your property values,” said one woman who supports the plan.
“There are better options than people sleeping in cars, nobody should be spending the night on the streets or in cars,” said neighbor Ari Hoffman. “For the amount of money they’re spending, they could give them vouchers for housing.”
We did learn if a location is decided, people will be screened when they get to the site, which will be staffed.
Mayor Durkan is expected to attend the next South Seattle Crime Prevention meeting, next month.