City action on ‘Nickelsville’ encampment? Two key dates ahead

May 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm | In 'Nickelsville' encampment, Highland Park, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 20 Comments

Since last week’s City Council discussion of possible next steps regarding the “Nickelsville” encampment now in its third year in West Seattle (WSB as-it-happened coverage here), we’ve been following up regarding what’s next. So far, there are two public meetings of note, both at City Hall downtown: One, as mentioned in last week’s coverage, is 5:30 pm June 25th; that’s the formal public hearing on Councilmember Nick Licata‘s proposal to expand the areas of the city in which encampments would be allowed; here’s the official notice with details. Before that, however, Licata staffer Lisa Herbold confirms to WSB that the committee he chairs – Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture – will take up the overall issue of Nickelsville’s future during the committee’s next regular meeting at 2 pm Wednesday, June 12th. That will include the alternative proposals suggested by the mayor and by the encampment’s own Central Committee, in hopes the discussion will reveal which way councilmembers are leaning, though no final decisions will be made.

Meantime, as noted in a followup discussion at last week’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting, community members are urged to contact the mayor, councilmembers, and other decisionmakers with their opinions and ideas; HPAC’s website has more details, including contact information.

ADDED FRIDAY: Just noticed that, minutes after we published this update, Slog published a picture of a flyer that turned up posted in Crown Hill, equating HPAC – whose leadership met with the mayor last week, though no notable progress is reported – with NIMBYism. Anyone seen the flyer around here?


  1. Thank you for providing the contact information for the decision makers on this issue, that is very useful.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:00 pm May 30, 2013 #

  2. i am planning to go to both meetings..
    Licata’s latest encampment proposal has possibilities.

    Comment by JoB — 6:29 pm May 30, 2013 #

  3. Yes, JoB, if you want to support more options for the homeless, you should note that the Mayor’s bill proposed last year would have made 258 private sites eligible for encampments. Licata’s proposed changes brings the number to 475. For city-owned sites, the Mayor’s bill proposed last year would have made 99 of city-owned sites eligible. Licata’s proposed changes brings the number of city-owned sites to 135.

    Comment by cs in hp — 9:21 am May 31, 2013 #

  4. I want one of those NIMBY Bingo posters! Sounds right to me.

    Comment by stephanie — 12:02 pm May 31, 2013 #

  5. I’d like to see anyone who calls someone else “NIMBY” beg for a prison, jail, trash dump or homeless camp to be established near them.

    Comment by mike — 1:33 pm May 31, 2013 #

  6. sad to see this misguided attempt to slander HPAC posted as news here. The good thing is, that not ONE of these arguments were made by anyone at the meeting. NOT ONE.

    Comment by cs in hp — 1:39 pm May 31, 2013 #

  7. It is news that someone is so eager to make the NIMBY allegation that they are writing about a West Seattle organization (getting the name wrong to boot) and posting it on utility poles on the other side of the city (rather than over here, the area of town dealing with the encampment). And that an alleged news organization is applauding it. Nobody had mentioned it to us previously – we found this link this morning while googling for other publications covering the encampment issue. I was at City Hall for last week’s hearing and didn’t see this, despite the Slog writer claiming it was being “passed around” the chambers. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:18 pm May 31, 2013 #

  8. Not sure why people take NIMBY as derogatory. I do not want it in my back yard nor do my neighbors. For those who are so concerned with the plight of the homeless encampment, why not invite them into your back yard (no really invite them to camp in your back yard in perpetuity). We will see when you become a NIMBY.

    Comment by Paul — 8:03 pm May 31, 2013 #

  9. Wow. Those NIMBY flyers tell me that the people of Nickelsville have very little gratitude for a neighborhood that has put up with their illegal squatting for over two years, while freely taking handouts in the form of donations and volunteer efforts without complaint. Speaks volumes to me.

    Comment by Disgusted in HP — 12:52 am June 1, 2013 #

  10. As pointed out, the poster was found in Crown Hill. Ballard. Probably a good 10-12 miles from Highland Park.


    Unless I missed something, there’s no evidence that the poster came from anyone in Nickelsville, or anyone or group representing Nickelsville.


    Even if it did come from somebody in Nickelsville, it doesn’t mean all the residents, or even any other single resident supports the message.


    An analogy; a windstorm, like the one we had in Dec 2006 brings down powerlines on your block (as well as “everywhere else”). City Light Crews are working around the clock to restore service, and between the noise of the cherry-pickers and other equipment, and shouts between the Crew, it’s pretty noisy at midnight.


    ONE neighbor on your block, is going online or in whichever way and complaining, making it sound like they speak for everyone, and saying derogatory things about the Crew, and CL. But they are the only one. Although inconvenienced with the noise, everyone else on the block greatly appreciates that the work is being done, and understands the noise is part of it.


    I’m sure there is plenty to pick apart in that analogy, but my main point is that the unappreciative sounding opinion of just one or two, does not speak for the entire group.



    Comment by miws — 7:28 am June 1, 2013 #

  11. Paul..
    i have invited about 50 homeless people into my back yard over the last couple of years.
    it has never looked better.
    homeless camps like Nickelsville exist because we solid citizens label them as undeserving of our time and attention and write them off.
    As a result, they believe the “us and them” stories told them by organizers because those stories sound true to them…
    every time we pass a homeless person on the street without smiling or meeting their eyes we prove to them how right those who manipulate them are.
    i am sure the un-intended consequence of affirming the organizers who teach the homeless hostility isn’t what you had in mind…
    but there you go.
    in addition to the numbers you quoted… the latest homeless encampment proposal is the first that eliminated the need for camp hosts to show a 2 year proven track record of housing the homeless within a very short time period.
    it actually opens the door to hosts who have worked with the homeless in the past and understand the issues, but have not been able to finance a full overnight program in the recent past… including our own local program that had to close it’s doors because it couldn’t get a city grant.
    it’s greatest weakness is that it has no provision for small encampments within urban boundaries… excepting of course that which exist within state law.
    and it’s 6 month time limitations.
    my experience with Nickelsville is that it took a full year for the locals willing to help that encampment to organize enough to make that assistance effective.
    of course.. at Nickelsville…donors were hampered by the same organizers who teach the homeless to regard the locals as the enemy…
    I couldn’t be a larger supporter of Nickelsville or the homeless..
    still the West Seattle Blog is not the only place my reputation has been blackened…
    i was used as an example in a meeting last weekend as someone who does not have their best interests at heart…
    and i have been portrayed in very unflattering terms within the homeless advocacy community
    imagine that.
    No matter what i have done or what i say, I have been labeled more dangerous than the Not in My Back Yard crowd because i speak up and call for modest, effective, compassionate solutions.
    the either or confrontational tactics currently in play do nothing for the individuals in the homeless community, regardless of the comfort numbers might give.
    but they sure do make everyone on both sides of the aisle feel like they did something.
    that, in a nutshell is why i have objected to the steps the Highland Park Action Committee has taken.
    i don’t want the people i know living in Nickelsville in it’s current location to stay there any more than you do. The individuals i know are getting very sick with infections that don’t go away…
    But i do want to make sure that when they move it’s to something that creates a future for the people who have no other options..
    at present, regardless of the rhetoric… neither side in this confrontation has the best interests of those individuals at heart.

    Comment by JoB — 6:49 pm June 1, 2013 #

  12. And if the good, hardworking people of Highland Park hadn’t started pounding on the desk about the issue of Nickelsville/illegal encampments the people at City Hall would be doing nothing but looking the other way. Thank you Highland Park for forcing this issue to the front burner!

    Comment by Del Martini — 6:13 am June 2, 2013 #

  13. @ JoB – Are you saying that you have allowed 50 different people to camp in your backyard over a period of time? Or 50 different people have come to your backyard to do work?

    Comment by Del Martini — 6:25 am June 2, 2013 #

  14. Del..
    I don’t let anyone camp in my backyard. I am a renter. That would invalidate my lease.
    but 50+ homeless people have come to help out in the continual quest to clean out the garage and transform my yard.
    in the process, i have befriended many of them and helped out in their encampments when i could.
    i stand in line with them to procure documents, help them work their way through the social service system, take them to doctor and dentist appointments, help them furnish their kitchens and sometimes their entire homes when they move into housing no matter how temporary and hold their hands and listen when they need to talk.
    I know their stories and their family members and who they turn to when they have been victimized by any of those that prey upon the homeless. I am on their contact lists and they are on mine.
    and.. when i injured my shoulder last fall resulting in rotator cuff surgery last month.. those same homeless people made sure that i had what i needed and stepped in to be my arms and legs on more occasions than i can count.
    So no.. they don’t sleep in my backyard.
    But they don’t sleep in yours either.
    and i am willing to bet that even with an enforced six month hiatus from the camps i have a much better idea what does and doesn’t go on in them than you do.
    i don’t need to go to the camps. they come to me. Those 50+ are only a small portion of the friends i have made volunteering there.
    as for the notion that the good people of Highland Park precipitated the discussion currently underway at city hall…
    you may believe that, but i don’t. Food lifeline’s current offer on the property accelerated an ongoing discussion.
    the solutions currently being offered are the end result of a large number of individuals and organizations that have been lobbying the city and country for decades… people who will be there long after Highland Park loses interest and moves on to something else.
    Long after Nickeslville moves on … because one way or another it will move on.
    the real question Highland Park residents should be asking themselves is if the city is creating a solution that will solve their homeless problem when Nickelsville moves on or simply move the focus and dollars to someone else’s neighborhood?

    Comment by JoB — 12:15 pm June 2, 2013 #

  15. @ JoB – Thank you for clarifying that you had people coming in to work in your backyard, and that they were not camping there.
    No I have not had people camping in my backyard as it is not allowed per city code and I am one who believes strongly in the codes as they are the law that guides our behavior as part of a democracy. However, does illegal camping and squatting within 11′ 3″ of my property line count as In-My-Backyard? Because that I have experienced. Multiple times. The house next to me was gutted and in foreclosure and no one cared about it, or who roamed in and out of it. And SPD can’t be there 24/7 to keep people from pulling off the plywood barriers and breaking into it. A heroin addict started building fires on the floor of the house and that forced me to take action and send the dude packing as I was not going to have HIS problem burn down my house which was again, 11′ 3″ away. Oh, and then there was the three buckets of s_it that were hidden deep in the brush by people without homes who set up in a greenbelt that was 65′ from my house. Nice, especially when the heat of summer warmed that excrement to a ripe temperature.
    I could go on…..
    I don’t hang out at Nickelsville and don’t know the cast of players and residents there. I DO mix it up with a LOT of people who are without housing every day in the line of work that I perform. They all get treated with the utmost respect. And I hear a lot of their stories, some total bulls__t, and some legit. I hope you can discern the difference. And yes, the story does make a difference. Other wise it is Enabling 101.
    The City Council and Mayor are both subject to pressure by a thousand pinpricks. Highland Park is most certainly a big part of those pinpricks forcing City Hall to actually do what they are very well paid to do and not just play head-in-the-sand. Had City Hall not allowed Nickelsville to become so entrenched at its wretched location and without any kind of oversight we would be in a very different place now. But the City Council and Mayor don’t like to deal with anything that doesn’t involved grandstanding and new projects.
    Per your suggestion that Highland Park residents need to ask themselves a question…Huh? Highland Park people have more than tolerated their share of the burden. Let go of the guilt trippin’, as it is really uncalled for. Highland Park needs to be relieved, and now. Once Nickelsville is hopefully moved, or disbanded, HP people can get back to the struggle of trying to keep their neighborhood from sliding backwards anymore than it already has.

    Comment by Del Martini — 6:37 pm June 2, 2013 #

  16. Very interesting article in the Seattle Times tonight:

    Scott Morrow should be investigated. Shameful.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 9:01 pm June 2, 2013 #

  17. Del..

    I did not set out to guilt trip you. What i set out to point out is that even if the path chosen by the Highland Park Action committee helps to move Nickelsville along..
    it is unlikely to rid Highland Park of their very real problems.. those who take advantage of the vacant homes in the neighborhood for criminal purposes and the homeless population inhabiting the greenbelt…
    That’s the real tragedy.

    Comment by JoB — 9:30 pm June 2, 2013 #

  18. West seattle Hipster

    Yes. This article highlights what i see as the bigger problem here.. not where Nickelsville lands.

    Unless we demand accountability from both the city and shelter providers we won’t make progress emptying our greenbelts of the homeless who are camped there..

    Comment by JoB — 8:19 am June 3, 2013 #

  19. No, I would rather demand accountability from Scott Morrow and SHARE.

    The city has done more than enough to subsidize those choosing to live the homeless lifestyle.

    Throwing money at the issue is not solving it.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 12:58 pm June 3, 2013 #

  20. West Seattle Hipster.. over half of the shelter beds that the city funds are managed by SHARE
    you don’t want accountability for those funds?
    I do.
    Tim Harris’s piece on the new encampment ordinance

    Comment by JoB — 6:02 pm June 3, 2013 #

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