MYERS WAY ENCAMPMENT: City Council committee briefing tomorrow; WWRHAH letter, post-meeting

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.

In Community,
Amanda Kay Helmick
Chair
Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council
wwrhah.org

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.

10 Replies to "MYERS WAY ENCAMPMENT: City Council committee briefing tomorrow; WWRHAH letter, post-meeting"

  • aRF December 13, 2016 (1:47 pm)

    I very much like Helmick’s letter. Would there be any interest within the West Seattle community for building tiny houses for the encampment ourselves? 

    • Willow December 15, 2016 (7:25 pm)

      Yes! I live very close to the camp and have a large network of supporters that would rally behind building tiny houses if they would let us put them there. I also think some of the programs they have used for the others, like training opportunity youth and the residents themselves to do the building, would be amazing here.

  • JRR December 13, 2016 (2:17 pm)

    Great letter. Thank you, Amanda.

  • Heather December 13, 2016 (2:57 pm)

    Thank you for writing and sending that letter.

  • Your Mom December 13, 2016 (3:23 pm)

    Here is an idea for an app.  

    The homeless app.  

    This app is for people who want to do something instead of say something.  If you are that concerned about the homeless you can list your vacant room/couch/back patio as available to homeless seeking shelter.  Three things happen.  1. less homeless on the street cold and wet and not bugging people who aren’t interested in seeing it. 2. Weed out the hypocrites.  3.  Free up public funds for the people who are paying into those funds.  Underfunded police, terrible schools…  You know stuff that we pay taxes for, we could actually fund them appropriately.  

    Whats at biggest issue here is the people who are in charge of upholding the laws are opening themselves/the city to a lawsuit.  By allowing people to continually break the law they are broadcasting that lawlessness is accepted within the city of Seattle.  When someone (non homeless) breaks a law, precedent has been set all over the media for about a decade that its aloud for the homeless, meaning its clear for all.  Can’t have it both ways.  

    For example, as a law abiding citizen who pays taxes, I can’t just go defecate in a public park, or litter anywhere I feel fit, or smoke anything I want anywhere I want.  It’s ripe.  I am almost to the point to break a law just to prove the point.  But I wont as I value my future.  

    There is loads of help available to the homeless.  As been proven throughout history, you can’t help those who won’t help themselves.  Its just a realty.  We cant keep marginalizing people who are actually down on their luck and would/do accept help with open and ready to work arms.  Enabling drug addicts has got to stop!  

    • Steve December 14, 2016 (9:13 am)

      Quit with the common sense!  The silly government official will scoff at such common sense!

  • KHT December 13, 2016 (4:38 pm)

    “Bridging the Gap”?  Isn’t that recycling the old transportation levy nickname, which didn’t do half of what it promised either.

    • WSB December 13, 2016 (4:54 pm)

      Yes; every time I see it, I think transportation.

  • Worried and Scared December 14, 2016 (9:23 am)

    There will always be homeless.  They are not all there because of choice.   We should help them the best we can.  What I have trouble with is the crime, drugs, alcohol and trash, some of it hazardous.  Correction, most or all of it is hazardous as  it puts  us at health risk in some way be it needles or rats.

    I live relatively close to Roxbury Park and can no longer walk safely through a place that my taxes paid to create and rehabilitate.  It belongs to someone else these days and it is too close to home.

    I like my home and don’t like the thought of selling and moving but I feel that the City government considers my area low income (which is not entirely true) and willingly allows homeless encampments near by and our neighborhood park to be taken over.  The transit hub on Barton, in no small measure, has encouraged transients.

    With rezoning, the homeless issue nearby and many other issues I wonder if those of us who actually live here are looking at a decline in our home values.  I would be glad to be enlightened on those topics.

    Why doesn’t the City establish some homeless encampments on Queen Anne, Magnolia, Broadmoor or Laurelhurst?  Where do those that are dictating where encampments be established live?  Where does Lisa Herbold live?

    • WSB December 14, 2016 (9:42 am)

      CM Herbold is a longtime resident of Highland Park.

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