1. The city’s department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) released new draft rules for encampment sweeps this morning, after months of delay and a lengthy debate over whether the sweeps rules should be radically revised (as council members Lisa Herbold and Mike O’Brien, along with the ACLU of Washington, proposed last year) or beefed up.
A few highlights:
- Before removing an encampment, the city must offer “alternative locations for individuals in an encampment or identify available housing or other shelter for encampment occupants.”
- People living in unauthorized encampments that obstruct sidewalks or other city property can be removed immediately, with no advance warning.
- In other cases, the city will provide 72 hours’ notice of an encampment removal, and will remove the encampment within a week.
- “Encampments” are redefined to include a single tent, giving people sleeping in isolated tents the right to notice before their tents are removed and their belongings confiscated.
- When deciding which encampments to sweep immediately, the city will give priority to those where illegal activity is occurring, with the exception of simple “illegal substance abuse.” The city can also prioritize encampments for sweeps based on the presence of garbage and undefined “active health hazards” to homeless campers or the surrounding community, or proximity to schools or facilities serving the elderly.
- The city will throw away or donate all personal property it removes from encampment sites within 60 days. (Practically speaking, when the city confiscates the personal property of people experiencing homelessness, they never get it back–as the Seattle Times documented in an excellent piece last summer.) The city will also offer a delivery option for people who can’t get to the storage facility.
- Areas where people camp frequently–such as a longtime site behind the Ballard Locks, or the infamous Jungle–will be designated as “emphasis areas” and subject to daily inspections, and can be fenced off to deter people from camping there. (A proposal by Murray and 36th District state Sen. Reuven Carlyle to surround the Jungle with razor-wire fencing was rejected last year as impractical and inhumane.)
The public has two weeks to comment on the new rules, which you can read in full here.
2. Shortly after the Washington State Democratic Party elected former Seattle city council member and Murray police reform advisor Tina Podlodowski as its new chair (Podlodowski, although a vocal, longtime Clinton supporter, ousted longtime chair Jaxon Ravens on the strength of a resurgent cadre of disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters on the party’s central committee), the Dems’ executive committee met to reportedly discuss, among other things, reducing the salaries of both Podlodowski and the state party’s executive director, currently Karen Deal. The committee is currently composed of 12 men and six women. I have calls out to confirm the details of the meeting and to find out more about the reported pay-cut proposal.