Dear Seattle Metro Chamber members:
As the Seattle Times reported, the Seattle City Council recently received proposed legislation that would severely limit the city’s ability to manage or clean up illegal encampments, and could act on it very soon. I’m writing to ask for your help in urging Seattle City Councilmembers to take a more reasoned, thoughtful approach on this issue.
We must act compassionately to help Seattle’s unsheltered residents, and being compassionate is about creating safe and healthy living places where everyone can grow and succeed. This proposed ordinance would take away the city’s ability to effectively address public health and public safety issues in encampments, which in turn will impact economic activity in our neighborhoods. The ordinance would also tie the City’s hands when it comes to addressing issues resulting from encampments in public spaces such as city parks, sidewalks, and roadways.
Finally, the costs associated with the proposed ordinance are enormous: City staff has conservatively estimated the costs at tens of millions of dollars. The ordinance calls for a wide variety of city resources: sustained intensive outreach, storing and safeguarding personal property, as well as sanitation and garbage services. We don’t know yet how these elements of the proposed ordinance align—or not—with best practices, including those identified in the forthcoming report and recommendations that the City has commissioned. Before we allocate the City’s resources, we must make sure the measures of this ordinance are consistent with best practices for aiding unsheltered residents.
We agree that action is needed. City leaders have taken a number of positive steps forward to address the issues raised in this ordinance, including convening a Cleanup Protocol Task Force that includes many community groups, and establishing new interim guidelines for cleaning up encampments. More must be done, and these are steps in the right direction. Let’s proceed thoughtfully.
Here are the ways you can help:
- Send an email to your City Councilmember using the Chamber’s letter-writing tool, encouraging them to reconsider this approach and allow the Cleanup Protocol Task Force to convene and make its recommendations at the end of September.
- Share this email and the letter-writing tool with anyone you think would be interested in or affected by this ordinance, and encourage them to contact their councilmembers as well.
Our business community is incredibly committed to doing our part to build an economically vibrant and globally competitive Seattle region where everyone has the opportunity to succeed and access a thriving quality of life. Let’s ensure that the City’s regulations around encampments reflect a compassionate approach that keeps all of Seattle’s residents safe and healthy.
President & CEO
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO