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Council approves legislation to turn City Hall Park over to County

Summary

The King County Council on Tuesday 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.

Story

The King County Council on Tuesday 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.

“Today, the Council took a step forward in fulfilling our responsibility to ensure that local government is accessible to all residents of King County,” said Kohl-Welles. “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. 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.”

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.

“I’m grateful to Councilmember Kohl-Welles for working to build a majority consensus to help us meet a shared objective: to keep the King County Courthouse safe for all and connect the chronic homeless living at the park with the services and housing they need,” Dunn said. “I’m eager to see a long-term solution implemented to prevent a reoccurrence of the violence and crime that prevented our employees from coming to work and the general public from accessing government services—and am cautiously optimistic that it will happen.”

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.

A report is requested from the Executive by January 15, 2022.

Additional Quotes:

 

Council Chair Claudia Balducci: "I am pleased that this action has been broadened beyond the boundaries of the park. Our vote today will support the collaboration and problem solving necessary to provide for the safety, health and well-being for all who live in the area, whether housed or unhoused, as well as those who work and visit this important civic center."

 

Presiding Judge Jim Rogers: “Superior Court wishes to thank the entire King County Council and Councilmembers Kohl-Welles, Balducci and Dunn for the hard work they have done promoting courthouse safety for everyone in our community. With this proposed acquisition, King County will ensure essential access to our justice system, and enabling the Court the court to continue to fulfill its constitutional mandates.”

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