(Added 12:14 pm: Video of this morning’s council “briefing” meeting)
FIRST REPORT, 10:29 AM: Seven City Councilmembers are sending Mayor McGinn a letter asking him to close the “Nickelsville” encampment by September 1st. News of this first emerged this morning during discussion at the first of the two regular Monday meetings of the full council. We have just obtained a copy of the letter, which is signed by all councilmembers except Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien. It asks the city’s Human Services department to come up with a plan to “provide immediate targeted outreach and engagement services” to those living at the encampment, “along with immediate provision of shelter, housing, and other services,” to prepare for closing the encampment. This comes two days before Nickelsville is scheduled to be discussed at the Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee, which Licata chairs. We’ve asked for reaction from the mayor; his office hasn’t seen the letter yet. (We’ll add the letter here shortly.)
10:40 AM UPDATE: Here’s the letter:
If you can’t see the embedded, scrollable copy above, click here for a PDF.
2:21 PM UPDATE: We asked for a comment from the Highland Park Action Committee, which asked the city to close the encampment – which moved back to West Seattle two years ago – before summer:
We appreciate the council finally recognizing that the illegal encampment known as Nickelsville is not a good model for how our City should be treating our homeless. While we wish we had seen this letter and strong leadership over two years ago, we applaud that someone in our City government is finally seeing that this encampment has an unsustainable vision. We encourage the Mayor to respond quickly, preferable with a sooner move-out date in an effort to honor the community’s request. We would also like to see the Human Services department pay regular visits to our greenbelt throughout the summer to offer the same outreach, services, and provisions to the people living there.
3:22 PM UPDATE: And now a statement from the mayor, saying that unless a council majority changes its mind, he will expect the camp to be cleared by 9/1 and will evict anyone still there:
appreciate the work of Councilmembers Licata and O’Brien for working on expanding legal options for encampments, which built upon the work of an advisory task force I assembled in my first year in office. For some time we have delayed enforcement of the law against encampments on industrial lands while the City Council examined these proposals to provide more opportunities for legal encampments in the City of Seattle. In light of the City Council’s clear statement of intent that they will not expand encampments further, and that they expect Nickelsville to clear the property by September 1, motivated in part by the desire to sell this property to Food Lifeline, I have no further basis to not enforce the law.
We will provide additional services, including extended winter shelter hours through the summer. Absent a change in direction by the City Council, by September 1 we expect the property to be vacated and we will follow the City Council’s direction to evict those who remain.