(UPDATED 5:20 PM FRIDAY with ordinances to be reviewed by council committee next week)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
two three followups today to the “Nickelsville” developments first reported here last Tuesday, one day after the second anniversary of the encampment’s return to West Seattle.
Those developments centered around a letter from Mayor McGinn to Council President Sally Clark a letter (read it here) suggesting two options for the site’s future: Sell it to Food Lifeline as that agency has sought, provided the council passes a bill allowing more encampment sites at “non-religious” locations – or vote to allow the site to become a “semi-permanent” encampment.
Today’s developments (editor’s note – third development, added 5:20 pm, is at the bottom of this story – the two ordinances to be reviewed next week, including the mayor’s alternative proposal for the Nickelsville site):
HPAC PETITION AND MEETINGS: The Highland Park Action Committee, which says its area has hosted the encampment for long enough – 2 years – and is demanding a move-out date, has started an online petition. The petition calls on the city to either move it before summer, or start a public-review process for HP and Riverview immediately. Find the petition here. Here’s the statement we received along with that link:
Please pass this link on to anyone you know who owns property in the city, or to anyone that supports a better solution for the homeless. The Mayor’s actions to date have repercussions for everyone. We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten on this, we have a lot of irons in the fire right now. We are working on legal papers to file and are focusing the next few weeks on a more political route while all this legislation is coming to a head in City Council.
We are meeting with Council President Sally Clark’s aide this afternoon, and plan to meet with the Mayor at his office next Friday. We hope to have as many signatures as possible by Wednesday, May 22nd. That day there is (a) meeting of Nick Licata’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee at Seattle City Council from 2-4 where he’ll be presenting encampment legislation. Anyone who can make it to that, it would be great to try to have some community to encourage a change to the current situation. That night we have our regularly scheduled HPAC meeting, where we will discuss next steps. Join us at 7 pm, Highland Park Improvement Club on 12th and Holden.
FOOD LIFELINE: As mentioned in the mayor’s letter published here on Tuesday, Food Lifeline already has commitments from the encampment site’s other two owners to sell their parts of the parcel to FLL.
We confirmed this with FLL spokesperson Amy Lee Derenthal, who says the state has declared its land “surplus” and will sell no sooner than September 1st but no later than next January 15th, and that the private landowner who holds the rest of the site will “sell or deed his property” to FLL – once the organization has secured the city parcel.
Reacting specifically to the mayor’s announcement, Derenthal quotes FLL CEO Linda Nageotte as saying, “We appreciate the efforts of both the Mayor’s office and the City Council to move toward selling the land to Food Lifeline in addition to tackling the difficult issues surrounding both hunger and encampments. We look forward to a win-win solution that will provide safe shelter and healthy food to all who are in need of these resources.” They have one other ball in the air – a $3.1 million state funding request that FLL says was in the State Senate budget but not the State House. But they’re hopeful that will be worked out during the special session now under way, as they seek “state funding for preparation of the site, including geotechnical, SEPA review, grading, soil reclamation, and fill.”
Food Lifeline went public last October with its proposal to buy the site, seeking to build a new headquarters/processing center there.
ADDED 5:20 PM – DRAFT ORDINANCES TO BE PRESENTED NEXT WEEK: Three hours after we published this story, the agenda for next week’s aforementioned City Council Housing (etc.) Committee meeting was made public, and it includes drafts of the two ordinances mentioned in the mayor’s Tuesday letter:
*First – Councilmember Nick Licata’s proposal for allowing “transitional” encampments at certain types of non-religious locations – see the draft version here.
*Second – Mayor McGinn’s alternative proposal (though his letter says he would prefer to see Licata’s version passed, and to then sell the Nickelsville site to Food Lifeline), which would spend
$300,000 $150,000 on an environmental assessment of the current encampment site as a possible preface to “constructing a temporary structure for providing transitional services, food preparation, and hygiene facilities to be run by an organization that would manage the City-sanctioned encampment, providing up to 100 homeless people with a place to stay and with connections to critical human services while they transition to more permanent housing …” See the draft version of that ordinance here.
Again, the meeting at which those proposed ordinances will be discussed is at 2 pm next Wednesday – May 22nd – at City Hall.