State Budget Could Fund Contentious Fence Around The Jungle | KUOW News and Information

State Budget Could Fund Contentious Fence Around The Jungle

Mar 10, 2016

Washington state lawmakers have passed the supplemental transportation budget. It is now headed to Governor Inslee's desk for approval.

How to spend a chunk of that money is a contentious topic in Seattle: $1 million is set aside for safety improvements at the Jungle homeless encampment. That money could be used to build a fence around the camp under Interstate 5.

Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) suggested a fence early on, but others scoffed at that plan. He's now suggesting other ideas too, not just a fence.

Carlyle: "For lighting, for access [because] police and the fire department can't even access critical parts of the Jungle area. As well as some limited uses of protective barriers or fencing to make sure that people are not getting on the highway."

Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzales has publicly criticized the fence idea as a way of helping the homeless.

Gonzalez: "When you are desperate, then you will cut a fence, you will dig under a fence, you will breach that fence in any way possible, and I think that recognizing that as a policy maker is part of my responsibility."

She said a better approach is to make safety upgrades and improve human health services.

It is up to the state's transportation department to decide how to use the money.