Council to consider Mayor’s emergency order on Thursday

Tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon at 3:30 the full Council will take up the Mayor’s emergency order establishing two encampments for homeless people living out of their car or RV.

The Mayor’s order was issued under the rubric of the Declaration of Emergency late last year recognizing the extent of the homelessness crisis in Seattle. A declaration of emergency grants the executive branch more powers to deal quickly and effectively with the situation, bypassing normal governmental bureaucracy and checks and balances. But the Council is still given an opportunity (within a narrow timeframe) to review and ratify emergency orders — even under emergency situations, this isn’t a monarchy.

The Mayor’s order does three things:

  1. It empowers the city to establish to “sanctioned safe lots” where vehicles being used as residences may be parked.
  2. It allows for the opening of a third homeless encampment in the city — subject to a full permit review process.
  3. It lets the city issue temporary parking permits, good for up to 30 days, for people living in their vehicle to park on city-owned right-of-ways.

The Mayor’s press release from earlier this week gives additional details on implementation, including the proposed locations of the two vehicle lots (Ballard and Delridge), specific city-owned streets for which the parking permits will be issues, and a proposed location for the third homeless encampment.

Expect the Council meeting tomorrow to draw people from both extremes: those who think that this isn’t enough, and those who believe there hasn’t been enough transparency and public process regarding the selection of the sites for the new encampments.