‘Nickelsville’ encampment, 2 years later: Still no moving date

(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.

23 Replies to "'Nickelsville' encampment, 2 years later: Still no moving date"

  • West Seattle Hipster May 13, 2013 (8:00 pm)

    Thanks for posting this, I drive by there daily and wonder when it will be gone.

    Time for this illegal occupation to go away.

  • S. May 13, 2013 (8:03 pm)

    Go away!!!

  • Steph May 13, 2013 (8:56 pm)

    I live in Highland Pk and that chairwoman doesn’t speak for me!

  • Christie May 13, 2013 (9:07 pm)

    Way to go Carolyn – I hope the meeting with the Mayor is successful in getting them to move Nickelsville

  • Christie May 13, 2013 (9:14 pm)

    Steph – i encourage you to come to the next HPAC meeting and talk with us about this issue – of course she doesnt talk for all of Highland Park – but really they have been “camping” illegally for 2 years – it is time for them to go

  • ghar72 May 13, 2013 (9:15 pm)

    I think it’s very unfortunate that some have made Carolyn out to be the bad guy in this situation. She’s a gem for our community and has done so many amazing, behind-the-scene things that folks don’t realize. Her name is on the letter, but it’s as a representative of HPAC.

    • WSB May 13, 2013 (9:23 pm)

      And to Christie’s point – I should have mentioned, the next HPAC meeting is May 22nd. And truly, as we have reported in earlier updates, they – like neighborhood councils usually do – have asked for input endlessly, always concerned they might not be representing the majority of those interested in a specific topic. HP even conducted a survey. Anyway, on another topic, the urban wildlife rep who stood up HPAC last meeting is apparently a sure thing for this next one, for those interested in coyotes, etc., Carolyn mentioned in our correspondence earlier today – TR

  • Andrea May 13, 2013 (9:27 pm)

    Steph, I’m with you.

  • W May 13, 2013 (9:27 pm)

    The mayor cannot in good conscience move the people out until they have another place to go. Perhaps he has delayed because he understands the difference between basic human rights and neighborhood preferences. Which is worse – irritating some voters, or taking the tent away from a tent dweller? Sure, there needs to be a better solution than the current one – but until there is one, a “move-out” would be like stealing the artificial limbs off an amputee – bad karma.

  • datamuse May 13, 2013 (11:13 pm)

    W, I’d be more inclined to buy that argument if there was any evidence the city was doing anything about this situation other than neglect. It really looks to me like they were hoping the problem would solve itself–because that’s worked so well for homelessness in the past.

  • Faith4 May 14, 2013 (5:57 am)

    Were they building units somewhere in West Seattle for homeless people? I seem to recall something about that.

    • WSB May 14, 2013 (7:31 am)

      DESC on Delridge north of Findlay. But the people who are expected to move into the 60-plus units have long been on waiting lists and are not likely at Nickelsville, agency managers said long ago.

  • West seattleite May 14, 2013 (6:52 am)

    Shocker, the mayor isn’t leading. Dont worry he’s almost gone.

  • Danny May 14, 2013 (8:42 am)

    Well I guess my trips on the 131 down to the stadiums will continue to be graced by folks jumping on at the Nicklesville stop so that they can shoot up. That’s always a heart warming sight.

    The other nice one is the vehicle I saw this weekend at Nickelsville. And then later saw it parked in my alley with someone partaking in their narcotic of choice.

  • Alan May 14, 2013 (8:47 am)

    I support HPAC. I agree totally with ghar72.

  • james May 14, 2013 (8:53 am)

    Question… truly not trying to be snarky. I drive by that area once or twice a week. There’s nothing other than industrial businesses in the valley and it’s a pretty big hill up to residential areas. This seems like a perfect location for Nickelsville. What am I missing?

  • Neighbor May 14, 2013 (9:43 am)

    @James-you obviously didn’t get the memo that we are no longer a nation that cares for our fellow citizens, we have a disgusting abhorrence for the poor, and think that being homeless is a crime only the devil would endorse. The propaganda has been spewing for so long it’s strange you haven’t succumbed to the new mantra.

  • cs in hp May 14, 2013 (10:10 am)

    @ James- the problem is that the city hasn’t approved some basic necessities to help the encampment- they don’t have running water or sewer hook up. The site floods, it’s rumored to be toxic, there’s a huge public health problem with well documented rat situation,… there are no services nearby, there is no over-site, the management is doing a questionable job at best, and the city is not engaged with the campers to help them get back on their feet. The problem is that the city has been ignoring the situation, and not doing anybody any favors- even the campers and organizers of Nickelsville know this is not a good location, and the city is dragging their feet on finding a more appropriate site for an encampment of this size. The problem is that there was no public comment period for the neighborhood, no outreach, no permits, and no communication. The problem is that every neighborhood should take a turn to help those in need, not one neighborhood that is fragile enough already- where nobody has the time, money, or energy to question it. The reality is there are residual effects of having an encampment like this as the gateway to your neighborhood- and the people of highland park have been experiencing those effects for two years now- it’s not fear or speculation, it’s experience. If we care about the homeless, we have to demand a better solution. HPAC’s been trying to work with the city to do what we can to help find one, the city needs to step up to the plate- and they won’t do it until we start demanding it.

  • cj May 14, 2013 (10:47 am)

    Nickelsvill is a rather public phenomena, they have their own web site and of course media attention. This being said the permanent nation wide transient community knows abut them and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was on lists of potential stay over spots. The thing is with warmer days coming that means a lot of the disenfranchised nation wide community will be looking for money making hot spots. Seattle has a history of being known as one of those. I really like our mayor, he has a heart and some great ideas, but I would hate to loose him to a more draconian mayor partly due to the out of control transient issue in Seattle. Something needs to happen before the election I think.

  • Mike May 14, 2013 (11:35 am)

    http://www.hagc.net/page.aspx?PageID=4&lang= If they can pick up a shovel, pick fruit or plant seeds, there are jobs for them on the other side of the mountains.

  • RSL May 14, 2013 (1:04 pm)

    I live above the camp in Highland Park. I dont have a problem with it. Largely it sits out of view and unless you know its there its not highly visible. Its in an industrial area not close to most residences, it has some parking for those that have cars, it has a bus stop for those that dont. I’ve donated items and taken food down and have been met with organization and courtesy. I know there are kids that live there and attend school. I dont think most people that live there do it by choice.

  • KH May 14, 2013 (2:45 pm)

    Many thanks to Carolyn and all of the great volunteers at HPAC. I very much appreciate your constant effort in making HP a better place to live. I, like most, have compassion for those who live in the encampment, but we cannot simply take on a disproportionate amount of the homeless burden because we happen to live near a convenient squatting location in a working class neighborhood. For those who criticize the movement to get this camp out of our area after TWO YEARS, you either don’t live in the neighborhood, or if you do, are part of the camp itself. There is no doubt- it IS a burden in many many ways.

  • Mike May 14, 2013 (8:43 pm)

    Sharing is caring and it is far past time for another section of Seattle or the region to share in the caring for this group of people. Two years is enough for one struggling section of the city to have fulfilled more than their share of the care.

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