Tom Douglas in front of Dahlia Bakery during a pre-Thanksgiving food giveaway event
  • Joe Mabel, Wikipedia
  • Tom Douglas in front of Dahlia Bakery during a pre-Thanksgiving food giveaway event
At least one group of people aren’t happy with Seattle chef Tom Douglas’s plan to roast salmon at Steinbrueck Park. The homeless advocacy group SHARE (Seattle Housing And Resources Effort) sent out a statement Friday saying that the event is a guise to chase the homeless community away from the park. Douglas announced in May that he wants to host a weekend Salmon night starting August to raise money for reducing crime and panhandling from Victor Steinbrueck Park, which is across the street from his restaurant Etta. The park is currently a magnet for homeless people as well as tourists. Douglas was among a group of business owners who asked the Seattle City Council in April to pass an aggressive panhandling law because it was driving tourists away.

SHARE decided to sell wieners at the park every time Douglas sold his $12-a-plate salmon. “We want to exercise our free speech rights and raise money toward building shelters,” says Beatrice Friberg of SHARE. “Tom Douglas wants to sell salmon and spend the profits on security—that is, chasing poor people out. We believe that the only safety issue in this is that of those homeless people who do not have a safe shelter to go to at night.” Calls to Douglas’s corporate office for comment were not returned immediately.

Friberg says that SHARE was denied a permit for a wiener sale twice from the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. “Their reason to deny us a permit the first time was that we did not put down an exact date and instead wrote ‘whenever Tom Douglas holds a salmon bake,’" she says.

Parks and Recreation spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad says that SHARE’s permit was denied a second time because the department doesn’t issue two permits for the same park for the same day. “They [SHARE] said they want to do events on the same day as Tom Douglas, and then Tom Douglas chose a date,” Hammerstad says. “He filed an application to serve some food on August 28, and we can’t have another event on that date.” Hammerstad says that SHARE is welcome to be there during the Salmon bake. “The park is open to everyone, no one is excluded from being in the park,” she says. “They can always file a request for a permit for another day—we can’t give them a carte blanche yes, but we can review their request.”

SHARE says this is just another example of how the city treats its homeless population. “We will not be able to exercise our right to free speech whenever Mr Douglas exercises his,” Friberg says. “It seems that the line between rich and poor has been drawn and that once again, the haves will prevail over the have nots.”

Friberg says that the homeless population was becoming more and more “invisible” in the city. “Mayor McGinn has not met with SHARE six months after taking office despite hundreds of petitions and numerous requests,” Friberg says. “We want to know why.” Aaron Pickus, spokesperson for Mayor Mike McGinn’s office, could not confirm SHARE's story and says he will look into the matter.

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