Tent City 3: Results of Parking Survey and Neighborhood Outreach
The two major concerns that came up when discussing with congregants the possibility of our hosting Tent City 3 at UUC were 1) access to parking on Sundays and 2) the potential impact on neighbors. We are pleased to share the results of our parking and transportation survey and of our neighborhood outreach.
Of the people who responded to our survey and say they regularly park in the UUC lot, two-thirds would “definitely” consider an alternative to parking there during the three months that Tent City 3 would be using a part of our lot (see chart below). Another 15% say “maybe.” Because of mobility or other issues, 14% need or prefer to use the lot and four individuals indicated that they would probably attend via Zoom during that time period. The remaining survey results are summarized here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1A-VK62ZAVTLInj0ghvJFmvECiFdnBayFZahDBajTC80/edit
Given these results and the likely location of Tent City 3 at the south end of the parking lot, there would be adequate space for all congregants currently parking in the lot who need or desire to continue to park in the lot. The majority of congregants who responded said they are willing to accept the temporary inconvenience of parking outside the lot in available street parking or in specific locations that will be made available to UUC congregants (e.g. by neighborhood businesses). Based on the survey feedback, the Tent City 3 Team believes we can also work directly with families in the Family Ministries program to minimize the impact on families with children.
We had personal contact with Congregation Beth Shalom, the Northeast Branch of the Seattle Public library and some of the local businesses. Broad support was expressed about our hosting Tent City 3.
We reached out to neighbors with a letter and held a community meeting for the neighborhood on Tuesday, October 25. Many of those who wrote or attended the meeting expressed compassion and concern for the homeless, but some people also had some questions and concerns that they wanted to have addressed. Rev. Beth masterfully facilitated the meeting. The focus of the meeting was to provide factual information about Tent City 3 from the points of view of four TC3 residents and representatives of four congregations that have previously hosted. Beth posed questions that had been submitted both via email and at the meeting. There were approximately 60 people in attendance including the presenters and Tent City 3 team members.
Here is a summary of their primary concerns:
- Safety of neighborhood and impact on immediate neighbors
- Alcohol and drugs at and around Tent City 3
- Unpredictability of the homeless population
- Concerns about garbage, cleanliness
- Impacts on the neighborhood of having Tent City 3 at UUC
We recognize the many different ways of seeing the same issue and appreciate all points of view. Many of the issues neighbors raised are addressed by the Share/Wheel Tent City model and governance of the camp. In addition, responses from neighbors and businesses that have hosted Tent City 3 in the past have been largely positive and we believe that would be the case for UUC as well. As one example, multiple Tent City 3 hosts attending the UUC meeting indicated that neighborhood crime decreased during Tent City 3’s residence because of the security team that monitors the surrounding area. The meeting was well attended and generally well received.
To assess parking issues, a parking survey was available both online (from our Gateway enewsletter, our website and our Facebook page) and in paper form on Sundays for two weeks. We received 131 responses (many represented two or more in a family). We analyzed these both by total responses and then specifically looked at the responses from those who stated that they usually use the parking lot (see chart above).
To gauge neighborhood response, we mailed 440 letters to neighbors (of which 110 were returned as undeliverable, largely due to vacancies in apartments nearby) within a two-block radius of UUC. It contained information about Tent City 3, encouraged feedback using a special email address and invited them to a community meeting on October 25. We received ten emails, responded to each and invited them into conversation. Two neighbors engaged in subsequent emails and we met with one in person and one via Zoom.
We welcome your feedback and questions
Please reach out to us via email: Dave Mentz at Davementz@msn.com or Sallie Dacey at Dacey.firstname.lastname@example.org; or in person at the Learning Station in Nathan Johnson Hall after each service on October 30. On November 6 there will be a final Information and Dialogue meeting in Knatvold after each service. On November 7 there will be a final Zoom Session. We encourage your participation in any of these and look forward to hearing from you.
On November 13 there will be an online congregational meeting during which members will vote on whether or not they would like us to host Tent City 3 March through May 2023. This will be an advisory vote. Reverend Jon Luopa must make the final decision as the steward of church resources, but the opinions and perspectives of the congregation will be a vital and primary factor as he does so. We have committed to letting Share/Wheel know our decision by the end November so that they can continue their planning for the coming year.