A group led by the Downtown Seattle Association and including representatives from business and community groups across the city has joined the call for repairing Cal Anderson and a roster of Seattle public parks they say are “experiencing a spiraling public health and public safety crisis.”
In a letter sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan and city officials and shared with media Monday, the DSA and the roster of groups including the Alliance for Pioneer Square, Visit Seattle, and the West Seattle Junction Association joined with Hill-area organizations Seattle Central College, Freeway Park Association, and the 15th Ave E Merchants in calling for the creation of an “interagency team” and “an immediate action plan” to address disrepair and encampments in the parks.
“Because of COVID-19, regular maintenance, programming and events in these parks have been suspended, leaving them without critical management or the usual anchor of positive social activity. Consequently, our parks and public spaces have become dangerous and chaotic — exactly the opposite of what people need at this moment,” the letter reads. “And acres of park space have been closed to the public because they have been closed by the City, vandalized or are inaccessible for use to the residents of Seattle.”
The letter’s passage on Cal Anderson includes a complaint about “groups of protesters” who have “continued to live in and damage portions of the park, including the newly remodeled community shelterhouse.”
“Other residents in the park exhibit serious behavioral health issues and present a danger to public health and safety.”
CHS reported here on a call from Capitol Hill advocates and group representatives including the Cal Anderson Park Alliance nonprofit calling on the city to address the growing park encampments with immediate outreach and efforts to clean up the public space.
Seattle Parks says Cal Anderson remains technically closed to the public.
Meanwhile, city officials say their hands are tied until a solution is put in place to replace the Navigation Team which had its funding cut as part of efforts to reduce police spending and increase spending on social programs.
“Early on in the pandemic, the City of Seattle put a hold on encampment removals except in instances of extreme public health and public safety concerns in response to CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” a city spokesperson told CHS earlier this month. “The recent vote to eliminate the Navigation Team currently leaves the City without any tools to address encampments that pose health and safety risks.”
The full letter from the DSA and neighborhood groups from across Seattle is below.
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