Update: City Council approves $500,000 for helping move out ‘Nickelsville’ campers

June 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 45 Comments

(UPDATE: Here’s the official Council news release)

(Updated Tuesday – Archived meeting video now substituted above – public comment starts 27 minutes in)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:43 PM: The City Council is in the middle of public comment right now, preceding the rest of this afternoon’s agenda, which starts with the proposal to give an as-yet-unspecified human-services organization $500,000 for shelter and other assistance to be given to “Nickelsville” campers, so they can be moved out and the camp closed by September 1st. You can watch live, while the meeting is under way, by clicking “play” above. Three commenters have spoken so far, all expressing concerns about the item – two regarding accountability, and one in opposition. As we publish this, Joanne Brayden, known as “JoB” here on WSB, is speaking about her experience volunteering to help the camp residents, and urging the council to use this expenditure to also help those living in other “encampments,” such as the nearby greenbelts. “There are families there, and children – we need to help them,” she concluded. The public-comment period is open to any topic on the agenda, so the person following her is speaking about something else. Updates as we go.

2:53 PM: Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Billy Stauffer is speaking now. He reinforces the request for using part of the money to get “campers” out of the greenbelt. “As people leave Nickelsville, the greenbelt will see more and more campers,” he warns. He also suggests the restoration work Nature Consortium has been doing in the greenbelt – some of which, he says, has been undone by “campers” – could use some support. He reminds the council this is the third summer Nickelsville has been occupying the 7116 W. Marginal Way SW site without authorization.

3 PM: The formal discussion of the bill now begins. It’s a substitute version – we’re not seeing the new version on the agenda; here’s what’s currently there. Council President Sally Clark says this was introduced “a couple weeks ago” (actually, it was introduced just one week ago). She says the substitute version has some “technical” changes – including cleaning up language about what other cities had done, and spelling out accountability for what’s being done with the money and who is spoken to, setting a mid-August date for a formal report on how it’s going. Clark addresses the HPAC request about the greenbelt and says they’d have to talk about whether that comes out of this money or additional money. She also alludes to a discussion during this morning’s Council briefing meeting regarding the greenbelt-restoration issue (we’ll check that out later). “This is not a small undertaking, but that should not stop us from trying,” Clark concludes, opening the floor to comment from other councilmembers.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw suggests the issue of campers in the greenbelt(s) could be addressed by changing the language; Clark expresses concern about that, particularly since the number of such “campers” is unknown. Councilmember Tim Burgess notes that the most recent city budget has money specifically earmarked for “encampment cleanups” and protocol for how it can be used.

Councilmember Nick Licata, who wasn’t one of the seven councilmembers who sent the mayor the “close it by September 1st” letter that sparked this bill, says he will support it. He thinks there will need to be more money to deal with people in greenbelt encampments.

Councilmember Bagshaw says she agrees with him and others that this is “a start.”

3:15 PM: The bill passes unanimously. Who gets the $500,000? Last time we asked the Human Services Department last week, that was yet to be worked out.

4:26 PM: Here’s the official Council news release. Another encampment issue comes up tomorrow – a 5:30 pm hearing on Councilmember Licata’s proposal to expand the zones where they could be allowed.

4:52 PM: We’re listening to the video of the morning “briefing” meeting mentioned during this one; starting around 20 minutes in, there was extensive discussion about how this should be monitored and what if it’s not as successful as they hope. (See for yourself, here.)

45 Comments

  1. JoB says there are children in these bum camps? Let us know where, concerned citizens would like to get them away from those conditions. There’s no excuse for children being homeless, they, unlike many who choose to camp rather than to use proper shelter services, have no choice in the matter.

    Comment by Coldheart Craig — 3:26 pm June 24, 2013 #

  2. Wow….what a huge waste of money. I can’t believe we have to pay for this. Then in a few months there will be a new group of homeless folks that settle there. Unbelievable!

    Comment by JunctionMade — 3:51 pm June 24, 2013 #

  3. Cold heart Craig, some families with kids are homeless for no other reason than the economy, or a devastating illness or loss of a well-paying job. The average apt in Seattle now rents for above $1K a month. And unfortunately, shelters often separate families (men and women are separated), so camping (in a car or a tent) becomes the next best option. It is easy to say children don’t deserve this type of housing, but the reality is far more complicated.

    Comment by kgdlg — 3:59 pm June 24, 2013 #

  4. The city should buy some land for $500K somewhere & give it to them to farm & live on -

    Comment by rcl — 4:11 pm June 24, 2013 #

  5. JunctionMade, that point was made by David Bloom, and couple others; we’ll spend this money on these 100, and another 100 will pop up, because we have 3,000+ homeless without shelter

    Comment by Diane — 4:18 pm June 24, 2013 #

  6. great job Joanne; you did fantastic
    ~
    and excellent points made by Billy; good job pressing on with your comments while Sally was trying to cut you off
    ~
    very impressive public comment by many today
    ~
    I’ve said this before; the 15 min limit on TOTAL public comment, and limiting very important commentary from the experts in the neighborhoods (like HPAC) to max 2 mins, while council members can blather on as long as they desire; ridiculous; this rule REALLY needs to be changed
    ~
    the people who took time off work today, to go down to city hall to comment about ½ a million dollars of city funds to pay to move Nickelsville, had to share that whopping total of 15 mins with commenters about pot legislation; and they all had to wait almost an hour after a presentation about a sister city
    ~
    obviously this was already a done deal, all of council decided prior to meeting that they would vote for spending $500k on moving Nickelsville, so they really could have given Billy the courtesy of making his entire statement without interruption; to me, these interruptions by Sally, and further scolding, was very rude and unnecessary; as Billy stated, last time he took time off work to testify, he was only allowed 1 minute; the 15 min total public comment rule is stupid, stupid, stupid; does not allow for fair open process

    Comment by Diane — 4:20 pm June 24, 2013 #

  7. I can’t believe this.
    Was talking to hard working public servants today who are about to get laid off because of budgetary shortfall.
    We are going to GIVE a HALF A MILLION dollars to homeless people. For squatting on a derelict piece of land. Is this to guard against any (how did one council member put it??) negative publicity-photo ops. . .
    They are trespassing. They are illegally squatting. Make them non homeless, charge them for trespassing and get them a jail cell. Bet if the authorities were to start looking, they would find a wealth of warrants and other arrest-able issues.
    Oh wait. This is Seattle. That means cluck in your hen houses, do nothing about anything, say even less out of fear that you would be labeled anything ‘ist’ or ‘anti’
    September 1st can’t come soon enough
    OH. . .City Council JUST BLINDLY VOTED TO GIVE $500,000 to . . . . . . .SOMEONE-”yet to be worked out” Sheesh Seattle, mediocrity the new norm.

    Comment by Ted Nakahara — 4:29 pm June 24, 2013 #

  8. ugh. so annoying what we’ll do for people who actually WANT to be homeless and have zero responsibility. yeah, not every single one, I know.

    frustrating. might as well stop showing up for work and paying those pesky taxes.

    Comment by flimflam — 4:45 pm June 24, 2013 #

  9. “(Licata) thinks there will need to be more money to deal with people in greenbelt encampments.

    Councilmember Bagshaw says she agrees with him and others that this is “a start.”

    -
    -
    -
    -

    Wow.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:08 pm June 24, 2013 #

  10. hey look Joanne; you did so great, you’re on the 5pm news

    Comment by Diane — 5:09 pm June 24, 2013 #

  11. The extortion continues…….

    Comment by jiggers — 5:12 pm June 24, 2013 #

  12. Extortion is a perfect word for this misappropriation of taxpayer money.

    Rewarding criminal behavior, yet punishing taxpayers.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:23 pm June 24, 2013 #

  13. I can’t wait to vote…

    Comment by DTK — 5:34 pm June 24, 2013 #

  14. If they get a brand new spanking subsidized apartment , I am going to be very pissed off!!

    Comment by jiggers — 5:34 pm June 24, 2013 #

  15. I can’t understand why Seattle’s phony progressives don’t call Ben Bernanke like they did to prop up phony housing prices. Helicopter Ben could fuel a financial bubble in tarps, tents and pallets. Then Nicklesville residents could realized unearned gains and trade up like a great many West Seattlites. Nicklesville could then be overrun by hipsters, then Developers could gentrify it, and the City might realize a tax windfall rather than pay for some vague and unformulated relocation plan.

    Comment by flyntheointment — 5:49 pm June 24, 2013 #

  16. The city brought a good part of this mess on themselves. They evicted campers from the greenbelts where they’ve lived for decades, going in to panhandle and then hit the soup kitchens (better food than some pay $10 for lunch, btw). Of course they ended up in Nickelsville.

    One word: Commune. Like one poster said, take the money, incorporate, buy some land, farm it and be independent. As annoying as some people think hippies are/were, they weren’t waiting for someone to drop something into their bowl. They were true liberterians, doing their own thing. Imagine families living off the grid, and their kids learning to work hard and what stuff tastes like fresh. I know, idyllic.

    Comment by G — 5:55 pm June 24, 2013 #

  17. The City may as well throw that money into a burn barrel and keep them warm one evening.

    Comment by SrslyShrn — 5:58 pm June 24, 2013 #

  18. No comment.

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 6:45 pm June 24, 2013 #

  19. Diane.. being on the news was not my intent :(
    the up side is that it will likely please my grandchildren…

    it’s a lot harder standing up there speaking from your heart than you would think.

    Comment by JoB — 6:46 pm June 24, 2013 #

  20. Thank you WSB for providing the link to the briefing.
    .
    the briefing explained the context for many of the statements made by council members today…
    .
    when does the briefing become available? Watching it would have been useful homework prior to speaking.

    Comment by JoB — 6:51 pm June 24, 2013 #

  21. JoB – It’s live at 9 am, and I need to keep reminding myself that when there is an action of note at 2 pm, it will likely be discussed informally at the 9 am meeting. usually the big council meetings need only a couple hours to turn around. I am about to go check to see if the 2 pm meeting is available yet, now that our hazmat situation is calming down …

    Comment by WSB — 6:54 pm June 24, 2013 #

  22. Coldheart craig..
    .
    i know about some of the individuals living in what you call those “bum” camps because they know i can be counted on to connect them to people who will connect them to services…
    .
    nobody wants kids living in “bum” camps… especially not those who accept them when they have no other place to go.
    .
    if you are concerned, lobby the state to put back the funds it is currently cutting from subsidized housing… those cuts in Olympia are only going to compound the situation.
    .
    Parents dont’ take their kids to Nickelsville and other illegal encampments because they think it will be fun to camp.
    .
    They do so because they have no other options.
    .

    Comment by JoB — 7:10 pm June 24, 2013 #

  23. It will be the same old song and dance a year from now.

    Comment by jiggers — 7:16 pm June 24, 2013 #

  24. @jiggers.. maybe. but if we don’t try to change the tune we will have no-one to blame but ourselves.

    Comment by JoB — 7:23 pm June 24, 2013 #

  25. I will not blame myself for the mistakes of others.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 7:44 pm June 24, 2013 #

  26. Kgdig

    The examples of people in the camp You gave are by far the exceptions, not the rule.

    Comment by Lifetime WS. — 9:03 pm June 24, 2013 #

  27. @ JoB – Why would I blame myself or other city tax payers after we via the City spend $30 million dollars a year on homeless services? God knows how much has been spent over the last nine of ten year plan to end homelessness.
    -
    The constant barrage of telling people they should do more, or pay more taxes, or give more, or be more, has been entirely worn out with me. Work towards getting the loafers and losers out of the picture and who keep aid from getting to the TRULY needy families and kids and you have won a person like me back. Otherwise, it is just codependency and a waste of money. If you can’t tell the difference between a loafer and a genuine person in need then you are in over your head.

    Comment by Del Martini — 9:16 pm June 24, 2013 #

  28. @kgdig – Quoting an average $1,000 a month figure for an apartment in Seattle leaves out a bigger question. Which is, who ever issued the guarantee that anyone who wants to, will be able to afford to live in Seattle? I never was. I lived in yucky, awful living situations to save enough money to eventually be able to. There are much more affordable apartments in the surrounding suburban cities and exurbs. Areas that have very good bus service.
    -
    I always wanted to live on the shores of Puget Sound along Beach Drive because I like those sunsets across the water. But you know what, I can’t afford it and certainly don’t go demanding affordable waterfront housing be built so that I can have my pig at the trough life.

    Comment by Del Martini — 9:27 pm June 24, 2013 #

  29. Del Martini..
    .
    it isn’t enough to spend. We need to spend more wisely in a way that helps those who are the most vulnerable regain their footing during that critical first few weeks of homelessness.
    .
    the longer someone remains homeless.. the less likely they are to ever be able to work themselves back to stability.
    .
    yes, there are some incredible success stories of people who have been homeless for substantial amounts of time making it back into the mainstream… but if you look closely you will find a that they had help from someone who cared enough to extend a hand.
    .
    the assumption that Nickelsville is full of loser who are working the system really bothers me. The truth is that as a group, Nickelsville campers have consumed the least public dollars of any group utilizing any of the city’s many shelters.
    .
    In spite of all of the comments to the contrary.. except for a couple of small compassionate bequests.. Nickeslville has been funded by your neighbors… not by taxpayers.
    .
    And contrary to popular opinion, many of those your neighbors have helped to regain their footing are the truly needy.
    .
    where exactly do you think that people whose social security income is less than a thousand a month live? The waiting lists for subsidized housing are appalling…
    and it really doesn’t get better when you look further away from Seattle.
    .
    and where do you think people who have lost homes dues to illness live while they work their way through the social security disability process?
    .
    The ugly truth is that they live on our streets… and the longer they live there and adapt the habits that allow them to survive there… the more they look like bums.
    .
    you never know the story of the person standing on the corner with all of their earthly possessions on their back until you stop to talk with them.
    .
    the facebook page Homeless in Seattle has done a tremendous job of making those stories accessible to the greater public.. as does the Real Change Newspaper.
    .
    I urge everyone to step outside their comfort zone and learn a little more about those who walk our streets..
    Yes, there have always been what my mother’s generation called hobos… but even then, they were more likely to be people who lost homes and opportunity due to the depression than those who chose to live the homeless lifestyle…
    .
    What you find are people who are chronically malnourished, sleep deprived and isolated from the kinds of social contact that the rest of us take for granted. Their lifespan is much shorter than the rest of us. .. much shorter than that of what we label “functional” alcoholics and drug addicts …
    and the longer they are homeless, the worse those statistics get.
    .
    think about it for a minute. would you choose to give up the comforts of even the worst place you ever lived, to carry everything you owned on your back, to make yourself the target of every criminal on the streets.. simply to life the “free” lifestyle?
    .
    like everything else in life… the grass looks a lot greener from the success side of the struggle than it does on the streets.
    .

    Comment by JoB — 4:38 am June 25, 2013 #

  30. $4,000 a piece for these urban campers.

    Ridiculous.

    Our council members are really dense and misguided. Far from doing their actual jobs of helping to run this city and serving its citizens (you know, the ones who keep the city financially viable by paying taxes), they want a short term, feel happy result that only makes our city a manget for homelessness with a bunch of people who want to cash in on us suckers who give away money.

    Comment by 33Pete — 7:49 am June 25, 2013 #

  31. No other City in the nation throws away this much money to tent cities…

    Comment by jiggers — 8:02 am June 25, 2013 #

  32. shoot, it sounds like the public has had some good input on how this money is used to best help people. hopefully city council listens.
    on the other hand, I’m more annoyed with the proposal to add a property tax levy in order to publicly fund city council campaigns.
    my husband jokingly said he would run so he could get that handout. hey, other (not real) contenders run for office all the time, or maybe… goodspaceguy does get some votes, who knows.

    Comment by sam-c — 8:22 am June 25, 2013 #

  33. For anyone looking to watch the hearing, here is a link to the recording:
    http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=2021349
    Public comments begin at about minute 27 and then it rolls straight into the council discussion of the ‘Nickelsville’ action, for a total of a bit more than a half-hour.
    Thanks to Billy for being there to speak on behalf of our neighborhood. Thanks to the others for their concern and time as well.

    Comment by Alan — 9:49 am June 25, 2013 #

  34. Thanks, Alan, it was NOT up as of my last check at 1 am today and I had not had a chance to look yet this morning. Will substitute for the video window currently in the story. – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 9:56 am June 25, 2013 #

  35. Thanks! I watched more of streaming Seattle Channel than I’d like to admit, before realizing it wasn’t the meeting.

    Thank you for being there. West Seattle is so fortunate to have the WS Blog.

    Comment by Alan — 11:35 am June 25, 2013 #

  36. Where is this half million dollars coming from? Aren’t we facing a government shutdown? What else is being sacrificed to make this happen?

    Comment by anonyme — 2:57 pm June 25, 2013 #

  37. The city’s general fund, says the council’s spokesperson.

    Comment by WSB — 3:27 pm June 25, 2013 #

  38. Traci, thanks for the info.

    I just checked to see what comes out of the general fund. A little more than 50% of the funds go to Police, Safety & Fire. The next largest percentage, around 20%, goes to Parks & Libraries. Then comes Transportation, Housing, and Human Services in descending order. These are the services that will now see a half million dollar shortfall – or rather, an additional shortfall as most of these services have already seen drastic cuts.

    It almost seems as if the many are being made to suffer for the few; I’m not convinced this is fair.

    Comment by anonyme — 4:46 pm June 25, 2013 #

  39. Use a half million dollar to purchase a big land outside of city and built a new permanent village for homeless people. They can find a job in farm or vineyards nearby.

    Lots of farm owners need people to pick up apples, strawberries or other products. Etc.

    Comment by Kate — 4:53 pm June 25, 2013 #

  40. Excellent idea Kate, self sustainability.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 6:32 pm June 25, 2013 #

  41. My friend went down to Knuckesville with a class from Madison Middle school the other week he said. He said they where laughing it up having fun playing chess and all…oh boy!!

    Comment by jiggers — 6:43 pm June 25, 2013 #

  42. NO! NO! NO! What a terrible waste! Our city provides $30 million in shelter aid already each year, enough is enough. Now they want us all to throw in another half a million? We’ll just get more illegal campers!

    Comment by cruzer — 6:53 pm June 25, 2013 #

  43. Kate, good suggestion. Migrant workers are not only paid, but provided housing near the fields and orchards. Might be a good test to see who wants to work, and who doesn’t.

    Comment by anonyme — 8:09 pm June 25, 2013 #

  44. You must be joking. Do you know what hard work a farm is? These people don’t even pick up their own trash, in and around Nickelsville! Or care for their pet goats (OR CHILDREN) properly! No matter what remedy this $500,000 is intended for, the same people will soon return to camping in our greenbelts and begging for more handouts. That money would best be used for police enforcement of our laws against illegal camping!

    Comment by DISGUSTED! — 9:58 am June 26, 2013 #

  45. Make sure to give the campers the proper info on who to vote for in the next election so they can return the favor and then encourage new campers to do the same. (That is, camp first and then vote for more money). There will be more. Many more.

    Comment by 56bricks — 5:57 pm June 29, 2013 #

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