SEATTLE -- Hundreds of people filled a small parking lot next to a small patch of brown land Monday, voicing frustration and concern over a plan to turn that site into a temporary homeless encampment.
The city-owned property along Market Street in Ballard is one of three selected by Mayor Ed Murray's staff to become sponsored homeless camps. Each facility would also provide crucial services and security for people staying there and those around them, the city said.
While the plan was initially touted by Murray, it has been signed off on by most of the city council. The three sites were announced in late June.
Ballard residents have voiced strong opposition to the site on Market Street, pointing out its proximity to a bar, a liquor store, a smoke shop, and numerous homes.
More importantly, many said before Monday's community meeting, the public was left out of the process.
"What we're asking for is some time," said Marty McOmber, a Ballard homeowner who organized the event, "We want a conversation with the community to say what is the best location for an encampment here."
Only councilman Mike O'Brien attended the discussion. Invitations to Murray's office were not returned, organizers said. A spokesperson for the mayor said a "robust" public process was going to take place starting with a hearing on August 12 in Ballard.
The spokesperson also pointed out applications to provide services at each site will require a public process as well, when the time comes.
McOmber said the only reason for next week's hearing is pressure from the neighborhood.
"We started a petition," he suggested, "I think it is that which led the city to start changing its tune."