The city is considering new procedures for removing homeless encampments from public property. The proposed rules would give homeless people 48 hours to move along (as long as there's no "evidence of other illegal activity"), an improvement over the previous zero-notice policy. However, it would also apply the city's controversial parks exclusion ordinance, which allows the city to ban people from parks for "rule violations" including camping, to all city-owned property in Seattle. The ordinance also allows city officials to deputize "any person or association" they choose to enforce the rules. Even more alarming, the new rules would allow the city to confiscate and destroy any property deemed "hazardous"—which "may include blankets, clothing, sleeping bags, tents, or other soft goods that may be contaminated by unknown substances"—a definition that could apply to virtually anything.
Work on the new protocols started after protests last year, when crews working for the city showed up at 10 camps and cleared them out without notice, confiscating and destroying the property of people living there.
Last year, the Seattle/King County Coalition for the Homeless counted 2,159 people camped outside in the middle of the night in King County last January—a 4 percent increase from 2006.