Four Seattle City Council members signed a letter asking Mayor Ed Murray to delay closure of a Sodo homeless encampment.
Four Seattle City Council members have signed a letter backing a delay of the scheduled closure of the Sodo homeless encampment known as the Field.
Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Rob Johnson, Debora Juarez and Mike O’Brien each signed the letter after a Monday meeting of the council. The letter calls on Mayor Ed Murray to postpone the closure for a week, per the request of the camp residents.
Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and M. Lorena González held back, with Herbold saying she would need to seek more information about health hazards at the camp before signing the letter.
Barring action from the mayor’s office, residents of the camp will be evicted Tuesday.
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The camp, at Royal Brougham Way and Airport Way South, was slated for closure by city officials earlier this month over health and public-safety concerns. Authorities have charged two men in connection with the rapes of multiple teens who were allegedly held inside the tent city.
But residents of the camp have said city officials have ignored requests for fire extinguishers and other resources since the site was designated as a stopgap camp for homeless evicted from other nearby homeless encampment.
“We asked all of you for help, but we didn’t get it,” said resident Reavy Washington during a public-comment period. The group Monday submitted a draft proposal for creating an organization to address the camp’s problems to the council.
There is some truth to that narrative, City Councilman Tim Burgess said. But while the city agreed to “tolerate” the camp, the City Council “has an obligation to act to ensure the public safety of our residents,” he said.
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw joined Burgess in declining to sign the letter. Bagshaw said she was generally supportive of residents’ effort to self-govern, but urged the remaining campers to take offers of temporary shelter while the city works to open additional authorized tent cities.
A cleanup of the camp is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.