Mayor Murray releases statement on 10th and Dearborn encampment

Mayor Murray released the following statement regarding encampment siting today:

Our experts at DPD concluded that there’s a high potential for landslide at the proposed site at 10th and Dearborn for the next legal encampment for homeless people in Seattle, and that this potential poses a significant health and safety hazard for encampment inhabitants.

We simply cannot ignore these risks.

Concerns about the site’s landslide potential were raised by City Council staff and confirmed by geotechnical engineers with DPD after performing a review of historical sliding from the Seattle Landslide Study, geologic maps, and existing geotechnical studies near the site.

At my direction, DPD has asked encampment organizers not to relocate from their current property, and has requested the Low Income Housing Institute, the lease-holder of the current encampment site, to provide an extension while alternatives are explored. There is a possibility that either with mitigation or using only part of the 10th and Dearborn site this property could be used.  But so far, the City has not seen such a plan.

It’s important to make clear: DPD neither favored nor objected to the site before the landslide risks of the proposed site were apparent.  The City, by ordinance, does not have a role in selecting the location of legal encampments – in fact, the City’s role is only to ensure safeguarding public safety, health and welfare through the permitting and regulatory process. Due to the risks for landslide, DPD is fulfilling its role by declining to issue a permit for this site as currently proposed – and I agree with this decision.

I hope encampment organizers and LIHI will continue to work with the City on a complete solution that ensures the safety of encampment inhabitants.