Smokers and people against smoking debated the smoking ban provision in the yet-approved Seattle Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners code of conduct during a public hearing Jan. 28. But opposition to new rules that may affect homeless and poor parks users was unchallenged as several people spoke in favor of striking rules that would "criminalize poverty."
"Encouraging police harassment of the poor is not the path Seattle Parks should take," said Chris Burns, a student at Seattle University. Speakers advocated striking provisions banning unattended personal items, improper use of restrooms and blocking walkways, saying these rules could give authorities more cause to harass poor and homeless people.
Eric Friedli, the Parks manager of policy and business analysis who has taken the lead in presenting the new code to the Board, said items found unattended would be held for 30 days in a Parks lost-and-found and returned to the owners without penalty. Friedli also said the rule banning the improper use of bathrooms was to prevent people from taking sponge baths in the restrooms.
The Board will make a decision on the code at their meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11 at the Parks Headquarters, 100 Dexter Ave. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org before Feb. 10.