Two updates related to the city’s plans to change a Myers Way encampment from unsanctioned to sanctioned, one of three new authorized encampments announced almost two weeks ago:
CITY COUNCIL BRIEFING TOMORROW: When the council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee meets at 2 pm Wednesday (City Hall, downtown), its agenda includes an update from the city’s director of homelessness George Scarola on the interim plan that includes three “new” authorized encampments, including one on Myers Way in southeast West Seattle. Here’s the slide deck just added to the meeting agenda:
(If you can’t read it via the embedded document, here’s a direct link to it on the city website.) Two notes of local interest – one, it says the city is still talking with potential operators of the Myers Way encampment, which suggests that Camp Second Chance, which has been there without authorization since July, might not be the operator after all. Second, it mentions showers open for use at Delridge Community Center “since December 1st”; our understanding is that they’ve been available longer than that. Tomorrow’s meeting, by the way, as with most Council meetings, has a public-comment period, and will be live on Seattle Channel (cable 21, seattlechannel.org).
COMMUNITY CONCERNS: Following up on last week’s meeting at Greenbridge about news of the authorized encampment (WSB coverage here), Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick has sent Scarola this letter voicing community concerns. We were copied and are publishing it in its entirety below:
Good Morning Mr. Scarola,
Thank you very much for having a community meeting regarding the sanctioning of Camp Second Chance.
I wanted to express in writing, the concerns that our Community has:
All sanctioned camps should be low barrier. There are homeless people in West Seattle who are drug and alcohol addicted. Exclusion from Camp Second Chance has created many area satellite encampments. Our neighborhood in the past three years has seen an increase in encampments in Roxhill Park. From people just moving through, to people living there and setting up permanent residence. From drinking on the bleachers in the ball field, to rampant visible drug use. Roxhill Elementary School shares space with Roxhill Park and has borne the brunt of sweeps with people doing drugs and leaving needles, condoms and garbage at the back entrance of the school. This has created a sense of fear, and no child should be afraid to come to school. You cannot exclude the part of homeless that is the most damaging to the Community from sanctioned help.
Priority Policing. Assistant Chief Wilske mentioned an additional nine officers for the SW Precinct. Our Community would like to see calls related to encampments, sanctioned or unsanctioned, get highest priority. As this sanctioned camp in on the border with unincorporated King County, a coordinated plan with King County Sheriff’s Office as well as King County Heath must be in place. The people of unincorporated King County have no voice in this plan as they cannot vote on Seattle matters. It is imperative they are heard by the City of Seattle.
There will not be tiny houses at this site. It is not okay to expect people to live in tents outside for any length of time. Other sanctioned locations have “tiny houses”, why not this location?
The City must take serious steps to significantly reduce homelessness and drug abuse within two years. We support the Mayor’s efforts to create performance based analysis of existing organizations that receive City dollars. This step is crucial in the accountability of the tremendous amount of money we are spending on .005% of Seattle’s population. Opioid addiction is a nationally recognized epidemic, and this City is no exception. The LEAD program has been proven to work, and we need it now in South Delridge. If you ask us to host this encampment, we need the City to invest in our long underserved Community.
The Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council has been committed to making improvements to our area that help all of our residents. We have brought many things to light in the four years we have existed, with positive feedback from the various government agencies we have contacted. This should be no exception.
Amanda Kay Helmick
Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council
The chair of another nearby community council, Gunner Scott of Highland Park Action Committee, published a list of concerns shortly after the city’s announcement. Scott and Helmick were among the community advocates at the meeting with Scarola last week.