(May 13, 2011, WSB photo)
Two years ago today, the homeless encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned to the site where it had begun – a mostly-city-owned parcel on the eastern edge of West Seattle. According to a flyer posted on the semi-official Nickelsville Works Facebook group page, encampment residents and supporters plan a second-anniversary party next Sunday afternoon. That’s three days before their uphill neighbors from the Highland Park Action Committee have a meeting scheduled with Mayor McGinn.
Today was also the deadline that HPAC chair Carolyn Stauffer had given McGinn and City Councilmembers for announcing a move-out date for the encampment. The nonprofit Food Lifeline has proposed building a new center there, to collect and process food for food banks around the region. But in addition to the encampment’s presence, there’s also bureaucracy in the way, such as getting the site declared “surplus” so the city could consider selling it.
Stauffer writes on the HPAC website that only one city leader to whom the letter was sent, Councilmember Richard Conlin, replied, though without any commitment of specific action. As for the mayor, she writes in part:
The Mayor has donated [to Nickelsville] thousands of dollars in materials and rat abatement, and has been ignoring the neighborhood pleas for city action. We asked again that he be brave enough politically to stand up for our neighborhood and say no- that one cannot squat illegally on public land anymore, that it is too much to ask of our neighborhoods without due process and public comment. Giving the encampment a move out date is the Mayor’s job, and we are meeting with him on May 22nd to make sure that he understands that, and to make sure he knows that the neighborhood is serious when we ask for a move out date.
If he chooses to continue to ignore this, he will have a difficult time getting through the political season coming up without having to address his non-action. As we stated in our April 2nd letter, we will be taking steps to pursue legal action at this point.
We too have an inquiry out to the mayor’s office and will update when we hear back.