SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell addressed the City Council publicly for the first time on Wednesday, in an attempt to extend an olive branch and simultaneously express the urgency to address the homelessness situation near Green Lake.
In the afternoon committee hearing, Harrell said to the council "I want to be your partner" in addressing the situation and said he was very optimistic after going to the White House last month that state and federal money will be coming to address the problem.
However, his Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington, who is a holdover from the Durkan administration, said "Woodland Park is a top priority" for the office. The spot, southwest of Green Lake, was overrun by a homeless encampment that was one of the biggest in city history, according to Washington, who is in charge of leading the Mayor's homelessness response.
However, even after tents were cleared from the shores of Green Lake in December, not everyone has been housed, and some people living in tents relocated to other more wooded parts of the park. Washington said "We have a lot of community buy-in and support," but it "is not a site that can be addressed in thirty days."
Still, it is progress for the people who use the park on a regular basis. Harrell had campaigned on restoring parks like Woodland and even made a stop there while on the trail.
"It's nice to have it cleaned up, even temporarily," said Matt Gellatly, who says he walks the route around the lake every day and had been vocal about the city's response. "I want to see our parks clean, I think it's important for the people that live here feel secure," but, he added, "How do we solve the bigger problem?"