The King County Council on Oct. 19 approved legislation that would seek options for King County to acquire City Hall Park from the City of Seattle and explore future plans and uses of the park, which is adjacent to the King County Courthouse, the seat of county government. The legislation, sponsored by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Reagan Dunn, was approved by a vote of 7-2.
Approval of the motion comes just over two months after efforts began to relocate and provide services to people who had been living in an encampment in the park. After it was vacated, the City of Seattle closed the park for renovations. Kohl-Welles drafted the legislation in response to concerns raised about the safety and sanitary conditions in the park and surrounding area.
“Through having Executive Constantine explore future uses for the park, I am optimistic that the King County civic campus, including the park, will be more accessible, welcoming, and safe for Courthouse employees, jurors, and others seeking access to justice and county services,” said Kohl-Welles. “Further, the many challenges faced by our unhoused neighbors will be better served. I appreciate collaborating with my Council colleagues and the Executive and look forward to continuing this work together.”
While the legislation specifically asks the Executive to explore the park’s use as part of a larger civic campus and outline a plan to provide support and relocation for any future encampments that might crop up on the site, other possibilities for the future of the site may also be included in the Executive’s report.
“I’m eager to see a long-term solution implemented to prevent a re-occurrence of the violence and crime that prevented our employees from coming to work and the general public from accessing government services,” Dunn said “And am cautiously optimistic that it will happen.”
A report is requested from the Executive by January 15, 2022.