Council Weighs Plan to Evict the Jungle, But Advocate Bill and Other Proposals Loom Large

Council Weighs Plan to Evict the Jungle, But Advocate Bill and Other Proposals Loom Large

At 2 p.m., council will weigh Murray’s plan to evict the Jungle amid a flurry of related proposals.

At 2 p.m. today, Seattle City Council’s Human Services and Public Health committee will consider a resolution authored by Mayor Ed Murray’s office that would greenlight his plan to mass evict the perhaps 100 campers who still reside in “the Jungle,” an archipelago of homeless encampments along and beneath I-5. That plan is essentially a watered-down, more humane version of the eviction plan council shot down in May. It would allow campers to relocate to an adjacent field that has become a de facto, though not formally authorized, city encampment.

Murray’s Jungle eviction resolution is just one proposal among many for how to address the burgeoning crisis of housing affordability and unsheltered homelessness. There’s also a city-wide bill homeless advocates proposed last month which, as we reported, would only allow the city to evict encampments if the campers turn down an offer of “adequate and accessible” and immediately available housing, or if the encampment is especially dangerous (say, on a ledge above the I-5), in which case the city has to direct them to a “nearby, alternative location.” In effect, the advocates’ bill would abolish homeless encampment evictions and allows only encampment relocations. While the mayor’s resolution addresses only the Jungle and the advocates’ bill would apply city-wide, the fact that the Jungle is located inside Seattle means that the two proposals are competitors in practice.

But wait, there’s more! Further complicating the picture is a pair of reports and an action plan requested by the mayor’s office which, rolled together, amount to a third, long-term proposal to shift Seattle’s homeless services from a grassroots, bottom-up collection of piecemeal solutions to a well-oiled, top-down, centrally-managed machine. Specifically, the reports—and particularly star consultant Barbara Poppe—want better data on real-time homeless needs and resources, competitive service provider contract awards, and targeted outreach for chronic shelter users (in the hope that, once unclogged of chronic users, the shelter system will start housing recently-homeless people more efficiently). As we’ve reported previously, Lisa Daugaard, director of the Public Defender Association and a proponent of the advocate’s bill, said that the reports contain “several welcome conclusions” such as reaffirming the importance of barriers to housing, yet also miss a big chunk of the picture by not addressing, for instance, how to sustainably shelter a population with lots of active drug users. Real Change’s Tim Harris criticized the reports ruling out from their analysis big-picture causes of homelessness like wealth inequality or mass incarceration, saying they contain mere “pieties about how to deal with homelessness without making any systemic changes.”

Finally, there are two task forces complicating the picture. One is the mayor’s homeless encampment “Cleanup Protocol Task Force,” whose members include Sally Bagshaw (who didn’t support the advocates’ proposal when it was introduced) and former city councilmember Sally Clark. That task force hasn’t yet issued any recommendations. The other is the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Task Force, convened by the executives of King County, Seattle, Auburn, and Renton. The opioid task force won’t formally present their final recommendations until Thursday, but sources who spoke on condition of anonymity say that those recommendations will likely include the establishment of one or more safe drug consumption sites as part of a larger suite of public health measures to address the opioid crisis.

Technically, Murray doesn’t have to get the council’s permission to evict the Jungle—or Queen Anne, for that matter. As we pointed out when he declared (and council approved) a formal state of emergency in November 2015, Murray now has the emergency authority to enforce curfews, close bars and gun shops, evacuate part or all of the city, and any “other orders as are imminently necessary for the protection of life and property,” per city code. Of course, a two-thirds majority of council could vote to revoke that emergency authority at any time, giving the executive a strong incentive to keep the council happy.

On the other hand, homeless advocates and their allies on council have an incentive to find middle ground with Murray and the state Dept. of Transportation (which owns much of the Jungle). Suppose they can negotiate a cleanup plan that includes truly adequate accomodations for Jungle campers (for instance, by cleaning the Jungle in sections rather than evicting everyone at the same time, as Bagshaw has suggested in the past). Once that physical cleanup is done, Murray and WA-DOT will no longer have any excuse for clearing the Jungle. And, bonus, the cleanup includes infrastructural improvements like better service roads, which would make it easier to deliver services (and, potentially, toilets, trash cans and sharps containers) to Jungle campers once they inevitably return.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Photo of promotional recruitment banner used by Auburn Police Department at Petpalooza. The banner features Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson, who is awaiting trial for the 2019 murder and assault of Jesse Sarey. Photo courtesy of Jeff Trimble
Auburn police use photo of embattled officer on recruitment banner

Families of people killed by Jeffrey Nelson, who’s awaiting trial for murder, speak out over use of his photo at Petpalooza.

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.