So far, it looks like the city does not plan any immediate action about the new, unauthorized RV camp in east West Seattle. We checked back there late today, one day after getting word it was setting up on vacant state-owned land toward the east end of the original 2008 “Nickelsville” encampment site, off 2nd SW between West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW. We were told five more RVs had arrived today, bringing the total there to about 15, and that some government entity had dropped off trash bags for them to use. Their status, they said, remains unclear.
This morning, we had updated our original story with information from Julie Moore, a spokesperson for the city’s homelessness-related efforts. She had told us the Navigation Team was out at the site assessing the situation. This afternoon, she reiterated that the city had not directed campers there, and that it’s a site WSDOT intends to use this summer as “the staging area for the critical I-5 resurfacing project.” She also reiterated that if any of these RVs’ owners were told to move, it was a parking-enforcement issue, not a camp sweep.
That said, Moore added:
While the site is not authorized for camping, nor is it an appropriate place to do so due to WSDOT’s use and activity there, the City prioritizes encampment removals based on several issues, including health and safety. The City has been focusing its efforts on mitigating the most hazardous encampments, particularly those:
Where individuals are sleeping outside in tents.
In locations that are physically unsafe for the individual or surrounding community (e.g., along busy roads, ledges, sidewalks).
That have become so large that trash, hazardous structures and negative behavior become too problematic.
Where there is a public health threat to the campers or surrounding community.
With those priorities in mind, the City is spending the next two weeks focusing on addressing the extensive illegal encampments along I-90/Rainier Avenue/Dearborn Street. More on those efforts, including the outreach efforts underway since May 1, can be found (here).
While a WSDOT rep was looped into our e-mail exchange with Moore, we have no direct comment from the state yet on whether they will allow the vehicle campers to stay on the site. We did ask a camper how they entered it; they said the chain-link fencing at the entrance was not locked, and had numerous openings. Both the state- and city-owned sections of the site were ringed with chain-link fencing after the last encampment there was evicted in 2013.