I think it’s better for the city to own City Hall Park than for the county to do so. My biggest concern about public land is that it can fall into private hands. All the resources owned by the city or King County are owned by every generation of city or King County residents, and land is a valuable resource. It’s something we should never let go of.
In our society — where the gap between rich and poor is widening, and more and more people are becoming homeless — maybe public land will be our last safety net, some day. I think our local government land should not be let go. I don’t know how strong the current law is to protect our public property, but it must be strengthened so that land cannot be easily sold. If lawmakers really need a lot of money, let them come up with another way. They are all smart people.
I am also worried about the park disappearing. It’s unthinkable for the government to destroy an existing building (I think they should, possibly), but not a park. That means the few parks that exist now are very important, particularly for the people living in the downtown, including homeless people and people with low incomes. The parks are absolutely essential. When I think about it, there aren’t many public parks with a lot of green in them in the downtown; I’m afraid that dogs will soon have more parks than humans.
I believe it’s the role of the government to leave green spaces in the community. Without green spaces, the downtown is going to be a very cold place with just concrete and buildings and no greenery. You won’t even be able to see the sky unless you look straight up.
I’m not a psychologist, but I think green parks have a big impact on people’s hearts in a very good way, especially when everything is busy, moving at a fast pace and very noisy and polluted. That’s true of places like the downtown, and, within it, stressful places such as the courthouse.
Public parks are very important for homeless people because public parks are some of the few places where they can relax without spending money and not be disturbed by other people. Parks are almost always open, including on holidays, when everything else is closed and other people are spending time with their families in cozy homes. Parks are the only places where people experiencing homelessness can spend their — sometimes depressing — day.
Some people think homeless people are lazy and don’t work, but they have no place to rest all day long and must carry all of their possessions with them. They’re constantly looking for places to go — it’s very hard work. I know some homeless people try to stay awake during the night and sleep in the daylight because there’s less chance that they’ll get attacked by a predator. So don’t judge people resting in the park, and don’t take the park from them.
We are born into a world in which practically every piece of land is already owned by others and people simply don’t have a space to exist for free.
We are all born naked and die naked, so maybe we don’t really need to own anything. Even so, homeless people were born into this world but weren’t given a place to sleep, except where they don’t want to go because it’s all for the sake of more fortunate people.
I think it is a very sad society with a disregard for human rights.
Carl Nakajima is a vendor for Real Change and previously was an intern for the Advocacy Department. His badge number for Venmo payments is 12468.
Read more of the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2022 issue.