SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council may finally be on the same page about the Jungle.
The Council's Human Services and Public Health Committee approved a resolution 4-2 Wednesday, which would clear the homeless encampment, allowing for the Washington State Department of Transportation to repair and inspect expansion joints.
The Mayor's office said 16 different joints need to be looked at on the main North-South thoroughfare through town.
The resolution comes after a compromise months in the making, which relocates existing residents to a temporary spot on Royal Brougham Way and Airport Way.
It also comes after extensive outreach from several groups, including the city and Union Gospel Mission, to find other housing for the residents in the Jungle. UGS reported that earlier this year in an assessment that 357 people were living under Interstate 5. That number is now believed to be closer to 60.
Multiple people have already been relocated to the temporary spot, dubbed "The Field.”
The plan includes state allocated money, originally designated for a fence around the Jungle. Scott Lindsay, who has been leading the Mayor's efforts on the issue, emphatically stated that no fence would be built now, and the money would be used now for this new effort, which includes building an access road underneath the freeway for the construction work.
The issue had flared up months ago after a fatal shooting in the homeless encampment, and has been a political hot potato about how to proceed. In published documents, city officials have started referring to the spot as the East Duwamish Greenbelt Area, or EDGE.
The proposal still needs full council approval, which could come this coming Monday, or the following Monday, according to Committee Chair Sally Bagshaw. If approved, execution of the plan would likely begin within weeks, although it would take months to fully execute.