West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Camp Second Chance residents got the commitment Sunday that they didn’t get four days earlier – that the city-sanctioned encampment on Myers Way can keep its drug-and-alcohol-free policy, even under new city-contracted management.
It happened Sunday afternoon as the encampment’s Community Advisory Committee met at nearby Arrowhead Gardens.
Five committee members were in attendance, along with two city representatives, a representative of the Low-Income Housing Institute – which seems to have been all but finalized as the camp’s new city-contract-holder – and 20+ others, who, as self-identified during Q&A, ranged from CSC residents to Myers Way-area residents to Arrowhead Gardens residents to North Highline community advocates.
That was a much bigger turnout than the CAC’s last meeting in early July, but a lot has transpired since then, starting with the postponement of this meeting’s original early August date, for then-unspecified reasons soon revealed to be upheaval in camp leadership and management (as first reported here a week and a half ago).
The original contract-holder, Patacara Community Services, is withdrawing as of the end of this month, amid questions about the status of privately donated money, and its leadership did not have a presence at this meeting or last Wednesday’s city/LIHI briefing for residents at the camp (WSB coverage here).
The questions, however, have not gone away, as was clear during Sunday’s meeting, despite repeated declarations that the donations’ status was outside the purview of the Community Advisory Committee, as noted by its leader Willow Fulton.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Camp Second Chance residents who gathered Wednesday afternoon to hear from city reps and their future fiscal agent/operator had one main question:
Will they be allowed to keep their self-imposed rules under new management – particularly, no drugs and alcohol?
They did not get an immediate commitment from Sharon Lee of the Low-Income Housing Institute, which is expected to assume the city contract that is currently held by Patacara Community Services, withdrawing from its management of the city-sanctioned camp after questions about the status of privately donated money, as first reported here last Friday.
At multiple times during Wednesday’s meeting, held under a canopy on the camp’s fenced site at the city-owned Myers Way Parcels, Lee said it was too soon for her to be able to say how things will work once her organization takes over, expected to happen at the start of September.
But the rule is imperative for the camp’s survival, she was told.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Earlier this month, the scheduled meeting of the community advisory committee for city-sanctioned Camp Second Chance on Myers Way was abruptly postponed.
“Unforeseen circumstances” were blamed. No elaboration at the time – but now we’re learning about change and upheaval behind the scenes.
Patacara Community Services is withdrawing as the camp’s operator/fiscal sponsor, responsible for the $200,000+-a-year city contract.
The camp has been hailed as a model for its drug-and-alcohol-free policies and self-governance.
But Patacara’s executive director Polly Trout says, “The Patacara Board has determined that given that the self-governance process at camp has broken down, and it is no longer a safe place, we do not have the organizational capacity to continue the contract.”
Camp Second Chance’s resident manager and one of its co-founders, Eric Davis, says he was evicted a week ago, and fired from his paid position, after a confrontation with Trout. He says police came to the camp and told him he was trespassing and had to leave. He’s now staying with camp supporters.
Before we get to what’s happening today, one note about something NOT happening this weekend – Sunday’s scheduled Community Advisory Committee meeting for city-sanctioned Camp Second Chance on Myers Way has been postponed, according to an announcement received this morning, citing “unforeseen circumstances.” A new date/time/location is TBA. The committee is a city-required condition for each of the six sanctioned encampments around the city; we covered its first three monthly meetings (here, here, and here).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
While blues musicians performed a benefit concert today (continuing until 6 pm) at Camp Second Chance, the city-sanctioned encampment in southeast West Seattle, its Community Advisory Committee met for the third time, at nearby Arrowhead Gardens.
The concert is raising money for expenses that the city’s $208K/year contract with CSC via Patacara Community Services doesn’t cover – in particular, “tiny houses” that can replace tents on the 50 platforms at the camp’s site just inside the main gates of the city-owned Myers Way Parcels.
Six residential units in all are in various states of completion/construction at CSC, Patacara’s Polly Trout told the advisory committee, including two that could be complete by day’s end today. She told the meeting that they’ve found a (contractor) partner to work with who will be able to get “structures of the same quality that are much cheaper” via wholesale/nonprofit rates. Read More
(Seattle Channel video from this afternoon’s committee meeting)
Starting 56 minutes into the video above, the City Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee got a briefing this afternoon on the state of the city’s emergency response to homelessness. We took notes on the West Seattle-specific information, mostly related to the city-sanctioned Camp Second Chance on Myers Way. The briefing was led by the city’s director of homelessness George Scarola, who said they’re now ramping down the daily homelessness-related meetings in the city’s Emergency Operations Center after four months. Key staffers will now meet three times a week and have conference calls the other two.
City briefers said that Camp Second Chance is now “at capacity” with 58 residents – three more than when we last visited for the Community Advisory Committee meeting on June 4th. Though a capacity around 70 was expected, all 50 of its tents (some being replaced by “tiny houses” as donor-funded structures become available) are now occupied. The city’s three newest sanctioned encampments, including CSC, have 160 residents total. In a citywide stat, overall, the committee was told, the city’s SPD-led Navigation Team has made almost 2,000 contacts with a total of 630 people who are “living homeless.” (The slide deck used in the briefing was not included in the meeting agenda, as most such presentations are, so we’ll be asking for it tomorrow, to add here.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The second meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for city-sanctioned Camp Second Chance brought more neighbors who wanted to expand the discussion to concerns along Myers Way outside the encampment.
More than 25 people gathered at the camp for the meeting last Sunday (note that this was one day before a man was beaten to death at an unrelated unauthorized encampment across Myers and some blocks to the south, so that incident is not part of this report). As of the meeting day, camp management said, they had 55 residents.
Those who gathered for the meeting also included camp residents and staffers, committee members, and representatives of groups such as Seattle Green Spaces Coalition that worked to convince the city not to sell the Myers Way Parcels, where the camp set up last year, months before receiving city authorization and funding. Also there, Tom Van Bronkhorst from the city Department of Neighborhoods and independent videographer Barry White, who said he was recording the meeting as part of a plan “to tell the story of the camp.”
Here’s what attendees heard and said: Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The city and county reps on hand at the third “community conversation” about Myers Way-related homelessness issues almost outnumbered the community members who showed up.
But a smaller turnout than the previous “conversation” did not result in fewer questions; this crowd had plenty. Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two months after Camp Second Chance became officially city-sanctioned, its Community Advisory Committee convened at the encampment on Myers Way in southeast West Seattle.
They heard updates from its operator, Polly Trout of Patacara Community Services, including her report that CSC’s population had more than tripled since it became sanctioned two months ago – from 14 to 49, counting three people who were reported to have arrived just as the Sunday afternoon meeting began. But that’s not yet the full capacity mentioned in the announcement last December that it would be one of three new sanctioned encampments in the city.
The committee – which the city decreed would be a required part of camp operations – includes a wide range of representatives from around the area, West Seattle to South Park to Top Hat to White Center, neighbors, businesses, nonprofits, neighboring senior-housing complex Arrowhead Gardens, and more. A city rep – Tom Van Bronkhorst from the Department of Neighborhoods – was at the meeting too. In all, more than 20 people were sitting in a canopy-covered circle before the meeting wrapped up.
Trout explained the camp’s operations – that it’s self-governed, with a Monday meeting where there’s a vote on decisions such as barring people who can’t follow its code of conduct, which includes “no criminal behavior, no stealing,” drug and alcohol free, being civil and ethical. The camp also has a grievance process if someone feels they’re not being treated fairly, and that can be pursued with Patacara’s board, but so far, she said, no one had done that.
She mentioned the services that have improved at CSC since signing a contract with the city on arch 8th – including: Read More
When the city announced that Camp Second Chance in southeast West Seattle would become a “sanctioned” encampment, part of the agreement was to set up a Community Advisory Committee. It’s now in place, and Polly Trout from CSC operator Patacara Community Services has sent this public invitation to its upcoming meeting:
Our next Community Advisory Committee Meeting for Camp Second Chance on Myers Way will be Sunday, May 7, 2-4 pm. We will meet at camp at 9701 Myers Way S. This will give everyone a chance to see recent improvements to the camp, like our potable water cistern and electricity! If the weather is fine and we have enough chairs, we will hold the meeting at the camp. If the weather is foul or we are short on chairs, then after the camp tour we will move to an indoor location.
That location is TBA, she says; the meeting is open to all. See the full announcement here (as Trout mentions in it, this is separate from the May 15th city-convened meeting announced earlier this week, which is also intended to address Myers Way issues outside CSC).
Just in from the city’s director of homelessness George Scarola – a third “community conversation” about the now-sanctioned encampment Camp Second Chance on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels and the non-sanctioned campers in the area:
At the community meeting on February 1st, there was a request to arrange a third meeting that would focus on public-safety issues related to homelessness along Myers Way South:
*Issues relating to the RVs parked along Myers Way and the unsanctioned encampments east of Myers Way;
*Concerns raised by community members regarding 9-1-1 calls;
*The City’s ongoing efforts to remove the trash along Myers Way; and,
*A progress report from Camp Second Chance.
That will all be part of this:
3rd Community Conversation re: Myers Way Homeless Encampment
Monday, May 15th
7:00 – 8:30 PM
Joint Training Facility, 9401 Myers Way South
WSB coverage of the February 1st meeting is here; our coverage of the December meeting is here. Scarola, meantime, briefed the City Council two weeks ago (WSB coverage here) and CSC’s population was listed as 33 at the time, just under half its current capacity.
Camp Second Chance – the newly city-sanctioned, but not new, encampment on the west side of Myers Way S. on the southeastern edge of West Seattle – is now officially on the road to expansion.
Its first city referral happened this week, and as of Saturday, the camp had 17 residents, according to operator Polly Trout of Patacara Community Services. The city envisions up to 70 residents. We talked with her at CSC this weekend after a demonstration watched by campers and visitors, related to a key question: Will camp residents have anything more than tents to sleep in?
The demonstration was by Pallet, a sideline of Square Peg Development. They’re making prefab shelters that can sleep four – and can be assembled in minutes, starting with a pile of components as shown in our photo above.
Aluminum-framed components, built by 'incarcerated individuals,' company explains. Potential disaster relief use too. pic.twitter.com/kFD4pzCZTn
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 18, 2017
That’s a short segment of what turned out to be an almost 9-minute assembly time. The shelters are aluminum framed, made from a honeycombed, light “yet very strong” material, and can be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled repeatedly with no sign of wear and tear.
Each one costs almost $5,000. There’s no official city RFP or other process to fund these (or any other structures) for Camp Second Chance, so for the encampment to get some would be a matter of private fundraising, separate from the services the city is providing. (One person with city ties was there to observe, though – Councilmember Lisa Herbold.)
Still, the price tag is a challenge. Trout mentioned after the demo that the camp has a donor who will be picking up the tab for 15 Costco pre-fab structures that go for $1500. Pallet, meantime, says it’s working on a proposal to provide some shelters for Seattle’s forthcoming Navigation Center low-barrier shelter. They’re also working on a double-size version of the shelter that would have a bathroom and kitchen.
Pallet is currently having these built by state Department of Corrections inmates (at Stafford Creek). The company also says its parent company hires people who are rebuilding lives on the outside – those who are formerly incarcerated or in recovery, for example.
Meantime, we asked Camp Second Chance leadership more about what’s happening there, now that they’re sanctioned. A potable-water cistern is due soon. They’ve also applied to get an electric hookup. And they’re hoping for a portable toilet – to replace the Honey Bucket type – and shower. Trash service already has begun. The city, meantime, promises a third community meeting soon.
If you’ve driven Myers Way today, you probably noticed the Seattle City Light crews working on the east side of the road. It’s part of preparations for the expansion of Camp Second Chance on the west side of Myers, now that it’s a city-authorized encampment. Last Friday night, the city’s homelessness director George Scarola sent a round of updates related to the CSC authorization/expansion, and it included word of the City Light work as part of commitments made to the community:
… *Seattle City Light will install street lighting on the east side of Myers Way from Olson Place to the King County border starting Monday, March 13.
*The City engaged an environmental firm to do surface soil testing, and the results show safe levels of contaminants in surface soil.
*The City installed a perimeter fence to delineate the site and protect the wetlands.
*Seattle Police Department (SPD) has cited and towed several RVs parked along Myers Way. …
The need for more lighting on Myers Way was brought up at February’s community meeting by Highland Park Action Committee chair Gunner Scott. Scarola’s update promised a third community meeting soon, and also said that new campers would be accepted at CSC as soon as this Thursday. Applications are also being accepted for the Community Advisory Committee promised as part of the encampment’s presence; here’s the application, if you’re interested. The camp is now formally authorized for one year of operations, with a potential to renew for a second year.
By Clifford Cawthon
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The expansion of Camp Second Chance on Myers Way in southeast West Seattle as a city-authorized encampment has begun.
In the month-plus since an emergency mayoral order created three new authorized encampments including this one, the city has been finalizing a contract with Patacara Community Services to operate the camp, which continues to draw support from residents as well as concerns from the surrounding community, while growing and maturing as a clean-and-sober homeless encampment. (Here’s our coverage of the most recent city-organized meeting about it, on February 1st.)
This week, George Scarola, the city’s director of homelessness, confirmed to WSB that the operating agreement for Camp Second Chance had “a few steps still remain (ing), but the agreement is close.” This process includes permits and agreements as well as a framework that Patacara will operate under while administering the camp in its partnership with the city.
Ahead of the finalization of the agreement, the following improvements have already been made: Read More
7:03 PM: We’re at the Joint Training Facility on Myers Way, a short distance north of the encampment that the city plans to change into a larger, sanctioned encampment. This is the first major meeting since that announcement. The city’s director of homelessness, George Scarola, is emceeing. He promises to answer questions that were raised at the smaller December meeting that followed the announcement. We’ll be updating as this goes.
First bit of news from Scarola – apparently Polly Trout of Patacara Community Services will be the camp’s operator “if we clear all the hurdles.” Her nonprofit has been supporting it.
Now, a list of speakers. First, Jason Johnson, deputy director of the Human Services Department, which is accountable for dealing with homelessness. He directs those interested to the city’s online FAQs resulting from their first three sanctioned encampments (Myers Way will be one of three more announced so far).
He confirms Patacara will be the operator, that it will remain a “clean and sober” encampment, and that it’s expected to grow to “50 units – about 70 people.” The encampment, as a sanctioned camp, will have an “operating budget” including trash, rodent abatement, toilets. What about “tiny houses” at this camp, as with the others sanctioned by the city? Johnson didn’t directly answer it but said the others have some but didn’t start out that way. Timeline: One year, with a potential renewal for a second year. “Two years is the maximum an encampment can remain permitted at any one location.” And the operator is expected to set up a “community advisory committee.”
Two questions from attendees: From a resident at nearby Arrowhead Gardens – what does “basic hygiene services” mean – will they have portable showers? Johnson says they’re still working on the contract and budget and don’t know yet. From someone else: What happens to the camp residents after those (potential) 2 years? Johnson says there will be “case management and services (at the site) … to continuously work to help people to navigate … into whatever is better, next, for them” – housing, “reunification with family,” etc.
Second, Patacara’s Trout, who says she’s been working with Camp Second Chance since June.
“(It) is a really extraordinary community,” she said, calling it an “organized, ethical, diligent group of people.” She says it can be “a healthy place for people who have recently been through a lot of trauma,” and a “safe place” as well as a place where people are “experiencing kindness.” Partnering with the city will “improve the physical quality of life” there, including water and Dumpsters. She promises that the camp will be “good neighbors to the housed neighbors in the neighborhood.”
1st question for her, what about the trash from unauthorized camping across the street? That’s not in her bailiwick, she says, but they might have “litter patrols.”
2nd question – who are/will be there? What ages? “We’re not going to have any children in the camp,” Trout replied. And “the intake process is managed in a democratic way by the camp itself.”
One attendee interjects that the camp originally turned up on the Myers Way Parcels site “because it broke through a fence … there was no community involvement.”
Next speaker, Mike Ashbrook from the city Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which is accountable for the site as city property. He says “the plan is to quarantine off the wetlands and any known sensitive areas we have” but also to protect access for City Light and others who need to get to part of the site.” “We also understand that the site has contamination issues,” and says they have been working with King County Public Health to “try to mitigate” that. He mentions the kiln dust “in a define area” and says test wells have been drilled to confirm it’s not spreading out. An attendee challenges that and offers a thumb drive that he says has a report on it showing otherwise.
Attendee question: “Why didn’t you plan these things about water and garbage before you started, instead of now saying ‘you’re gonna, you’re gonna’?” Ashbrook says they are “allowed” to provide those services “once a camp gets sanctioned.”
7:29 PM: Next, Susan Fife-Ferris from Seattle Public Utilities, saying, “I’m here to talk garbage.” The camp has gotten “bag service” so far, she says, but will be delivering a Dumpster on Friday. (Added: Photo we took of the bag stack north of the camp earlier today)
She says there’s been a “litter crew” cleaning along Myers Way at least weekly. “If you see an illegal dump, use Find It Fix It or call our illegal-dumping line, and we will clean it up within 10 business days” – if it’s on public property/right of way. She also mentions the sharps program and says you can report those and they will be picked up within 24 hours; there are six drop boxes around the city, and they can be dropped at the South Transfer Station (which is in nearby South Park). She insists the campers “want to be good neighbors” in terms of keeping things cleaned up.
First attendee question for her: How do homeless people have so much garbage? Fife-Ferris says that’s “personal” so she can’t really answer that but she expects a “significant decrease” once the Dumpster is being provided. Second is about sharps disposal, and she and Scarola reiterate the 24-hour commitment.
Next speaker – Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis.
He gets applause, but the cheers are even louder for Community Police Team Officer Todd Wiebke, the precinct’s point person on homelessness-related issues. Davis mentions a department “navigation team” of eight who will be handling these issues citywide. He says that Camp Second Chance is well-organized in his view, compared to others he’s dealt with. Switching gears, he says that if there are any “criminal issues … that we need to know about,” don’t hesitate to report it.
Questions: The audience member who’s been challenging speakers says he’s waited “hours” for police response. “Do you have any numbers about how much better it’s going to get?” Davis replied, “No one should have to wait that long. (But) we do not dispatch from our precinct – calls go through 911, and they prioritize.” So, the audience member says, “how can you commit to any improvement?” Davis admits they might not be able to, because officers are not dispatched from the precinct. “That’s not acceptable.” It’ll have to be, for now, Davis says, adding that he would love to have more officers.
Gunner Scott from Highland Park Action Committee, a nearby community council, asks how SPD will work with KCSO, which apparently doesn’t have a representative here, given the camp is close to the border. Who do you call, what do you do, if a criminal crosses the line? Scott says that Camp 2nd Chance isn’t the problem so much as the RVs along the street. “There’s a lot of real estate out there… some is city of Seattle, some is King County,” and KCSO has resource challenges too, he notes.”If there’s an issue where we can collaborate,” they do. “We put the best effort we possibly can with the resources we have to get out there and get after our bad guys.” He mentions the precinct’s new bicycle team, 6 officers and a sergeant (at another meeting we covered recently, it was mentioned they are still awaiting bicycles for four of them). He said they are going down the hillside on the east side, into the “Grotto” area among other areas.
Next question: An attendee says he understands that SPD has been told to “stand down” on some crimes, so can people be told which ones. He says he witnessed an assault and an unsatisfactory police response when Camp Second Chance arrived last summer. “First of all, there is no ‘stand down’ process,” Davis replies. “We can only go by the information that’s given us” in terms of making an arrest.
After that, a nearby resident says when she calls 911 to report a problem, the dispatcher has no idea what area they are talking about, so can the dispatchers be better-educated in where Myers Way is? “That sounds like something we need to work on,” Capt. Davis agrees. Maybe, he says, SPD can even meet with dispatchers, and he then suggests that having a dispatch-center rep at the next meeting would be a good idea. “And King County Sheriffs,” someone else calls out.
7:50 PM: Back when “Nickelsville” was in Highland Park, no matter how the camp was run, it was an “attractive nuisance” drawing trouble to the surrounding area, the next person points out, so what can be done about that? Davis says that’s a “polarizing issue” and they’re trying to figure out “how to tackle that.” He said the SPD “navigation team” will be dealing with that.
Now, another city manager, Rodney Maxie of Seattle DOT, who says that street maintenance and urban forestry are among the divisions for which he is accountable. He says he hears a Find It Fix It Walk is coming up here soon – local community leaders say, “News to us! When?” – and Scarola says, we’re announcing it now. Apparently it will be in Highland Park. No date yet.
He acknowledges issues with “borders” on city, county, state land in the area and says various city departments have formed a new partnership with WSDOT to take on these issues. In response to a question, he says agencies/jurisdictions are “coming together” to clean up areas no matter whose land they’re happening on.
“You could take care of a lot of problems if you put up signs saying ‘no overnight camping along Myers Way,” suggests an attendee. Maxie says that they have to “assess the constitutionality of everything and make sure we’re treating everybody fairly.” He also says they are working on addressing “new no-parking zones” regarding RVs as well as other vehicles.
8 PM: An attendee asks about issues brought up regarding another of the three upcoming sanctioned encampments – one to be opened in Georgetown – and pedestrian issues. Maxie says some sidewalk, barrier, traffic-calming improvements are being planned. “When will it be implemented?” Maxie replies, “Probably in the next few weeks – it’s going to be really quick.” He then mentions this is a different situation, starting as an unsanctioned encampment that the city has decided to sanction.
HPAC’s Scott says they asked about lighting on Myers Way at the December meeting, and wonders what is planned. Maxie says the Find It Fix It walk can address that – and attendees say, no, that’s not going to be a Myers Way Find It Fix It. Maxie starts to say that there are issues raised by lighting. Scarola apologizes for not addressing this, while saying, “That’s a tough issue, lighting.” Scott challenges, “When will we get an answer? Friday?” Scarola says it was “my mistake,” and promises an answer by the end of February.
Final city speaker, Robert Stowers from Seattle Parks, to talk about the long-term plan for Myers Way Parcels. He says it will be a “few years” before FAS transfers the land to Parks, and they will have to examine their funding for what they can do. He promises that the city will come out then and “engage” the community about “what you want in a park.”
“We want it now!” somebody shouts out. “We don’t have the land yet,” Stowers reiterates. Parks already has “about a dozen landbanked sites waiting to be parks” around the city, he notes. (Three of them are in West Seattle.)
First question is more of a statement – Seattle Green Spaces Coalition is going to be “visioning” for the land’s future, and invites Parks to participate. Someone else suggests that the city should put some money into development in exchange for the area “hosting” the camp.
When will the date for the transfer be announced? HPAC’s Scott says. No answer to that.
What about Hamm Creek? is another question. Since it’s not Parks property, Stowers says, he doesn’t know.
8:09 PM: The speakers are done, and now it’s on to a general Q/A period.
Officer Wiebke takes on the Hamm Creek question. Dealing with campers in that area “is going to be whack-a-mole,” he says. When was the last time you went into that area? an attendee asks. “Probably a couple weeks,” Wiebke replies. He adds that while he believes he’ll be safe heading into that area, policy requires that he have “resources” with him if he goes into the area. He mentions a 2-day project late last year that cleaned up the area – “you probably remember the tractors.”
But, “I don’t believe I’ve ever been to a cleanup where we’ve gotten everything.” He answers the question asked earlier about “why so much trash” – “A lot of these people are outdoor hoarders,” because of mental challenges, he says. He mentions finding bicycle frames but not being able to match them to owners because “most people don’t register their (bicycles).”
Back to Hamm Creek, he says the water and soil have been tested – he doesn’t know how recently, but has not heard of any pollution problems detected. “I don’t think they’re (relieving themselves) directly in the stream.”
Question for Trout – is one Dumpster enough? (And other refuse concerns.) Fife-Ferris from SPU answers instead. The Dumpster might be picked up daily, she says – they will expect Trout to tell them how often they need pickup. Might be “two Dumpsters picked up every other day.” Trout says she talked with Waste Management about one Dumpster each for trash, recycling, composting, and that they hope to help pick up the rest of Myers Way.
Scarola at this point mentions that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is here. She wants to ensure the written record of the meeting is kept, so dates can be followed up on, etc. Scarola agrees to that.
Next person is local resident Pat Lemoine, who says he has an alternative plan “that could get everybody in Camp Second Chance into homes in the next week for $600,000.” How much is the encampment budget? he asks. Human Services Department rep Johnson says that the budget for all the sanctioned encampments is less than $1 million.
The next question is about more specifics regarding the partnership between SPD and KCSO. Are there regular meetings, etc.? No, Capt. Davis says, the structure “depends on whatever happens across the borders.” He says other department reps, however, are often at the SPD SeaStat meetings. He mentions the prospect of annexation, and that has put an extra spotlight on the area. He mentions a crackdown led by an multi-agency task force a few years back.
Brought up next – a sinkhole problem in the area, “8 feet across and 30 feet deep,” Officer Wiebke says, “near the church.” He says he’s not sure whether “piping” was to blame, but SDOT came out, “filled the hole back in.” It was first reported by “a homeless lady living right next to it,” who told him that the soil moves in the area so “at night you can hear the trees twisting and turning.”
Next is the attendee who says he’s been attacked by “forest and RV campers,” and wants more of a commitment to “making our neighborhood more safe.” He says he was advised by deputies and officers that he was told he should carry a firearm if he’s going into that area. Capt. Davis said he doesn’t know the context of the conversation but says that if they’re going into that area to report things via Find It Fix It, “give us a call.” “So what kind of response can we expect” with that kind of response? is the followup – what kind of time commitment? “Give us a call,” Capt. Davis reiterates.
At this point, Scarola tries to say they have to wrap up the meeting due to a promise to be done by 8:30. Several people are still in line. If they go fast, they can do it, Scarola agrees. First person wants more King County reps at future meetings. Next, were any King County elected officials invited to this meeting? No. “Sounds like I’m going to fix that,” Scarola adds. Next, Randy from South Park says that the “disconnect between 911 and precinct officers” is a long-running citywide problem. He also says that local leaders should be told that permanent housing is needed so people don’t have to live in encampments. That drew applause.
What community outreach was done about this encampment plan? the next person asks, saying he had only heard a bit about this before. “How do you keep the dialogue open with the most amount of people who are going to be affected by this homeless encampment in our backyard, in addition to all the RVs and the trash?” Scarola says the Community Advisory Committee will have a role, as will organizations such as the White Center Community Development Association.
“We have to do a better job,” Scarola says.
Next: “We are in a state of emergency on homelessness, declared in 2015,” says a woman. “The only difference is that the people in the camp are unhoused. We are human beings and it is a human right to have affordable housing.” She was applauded. “We are human beings and we deserve to live with dignity.”
Mary Fleck from the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition says they are engaged currently in wanting to take of the land and wants Parks to commit “to meet with us and work with us now,” not in several years. She asks Stowers to meet with them and he agrees, while reiterating that Parks doesn’t own the property yet. “But yeah, we can start talking right now,” he says.
Following that, a question about the first sanctioned encampments, which Johnson says have just been renewed through this year. “What happens to those people” after this year? he’s asked. He says it’s not a “static” group of people, but he doesn’t have data about how many have moved into housing.
Then Christopher speaks and says he’s a camper, though not in the encampment. “Homelessness, houselessness, is a never-ending problem if we don’t come together” to solve it. He is on the verge of tears.
Scarola then summarizes the meeting as “respectful and positive” and says “the issues that have been raised are all legitimate, and they deserve a hearing.” He says there are various agencies to which you can report problems, and waves a card that has hotline numbers on it.
It’s also mentioned that the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets tomorrow night (7 pm, North Highline Fire District, 1243 SW 112th).
8:39 PM: Meeting’s over. We’ll be adding more photos and links when we’re back at HQ.
9:24 PM: We spoke with Scarola post-meeting. He said yes, there will be another meeting, as had been requested, date/”form” TBD. The Find It Fix It Walk for Highland Park is likely to be in “late spring,” he said.
11:48 PM: For some reason, our software has decided it’s not taking any more comments on this story, which oddly also happened the last time we live-chronicled a meeting at the JTF. Apologies; we’re trying to troubleshoot. (And we’re crossposting this to White Center Now, which uses a different template/software version that we hope won’t have the same problem.)
By Cliff Cawthon
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
When you come to the gate, instead of the encampment beyond, the first thing you’ll notice is that there’s usually someone being either welcomed in, looking for help, or offering to help.
Camp Second Chance is on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels, and while it’s been there, unauthorized, since last summer, it is also the site of one of the three “new” authorized-encampment locations formalized by a mayoral emergency order, approved by the City Council, last week.
The original December announcement of those three locations (including one in Georgetown) marked a leap forward for a plan the mayor calls Bridging the Gap to Pathways Home. The camp is to be given a one-year lease, with the possibility of renewal for a second year.
Nonprofits, community members, and residents are currently in a conversation around the Mayor’s move. And a community meeting is scheduled for 7 pm next Wednesday (February 1st) at the nearby Joint Training Facility. The authorization is greeted enthusiastically by camp liaison Eric Davis: “Being able to safely transition into housing, as opposed to being [swept] out of somewhere every three months…it’s a blessing the Mayor [has] sanctioned us [so far].”
I visited the camp to talk to residents about what this order means for their future. Read More
2:11 PM: A month and a half after announcing three “new” authorized encampments around the city, including the Myers Way Parcels site that is already home to an unauthorized encampment, Mayor Murray is following through. Here’s the announcement, including plans for a community meeting:
Today, Mayor Ed Murray sent emergency orders to City Council authorizing three previously announced encampment locations for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle.
The orders call for three new encampments, each with capacity for 60 to 70 people, to be established at 8620 Nesbit Avenue North, 9701 Myers Way South, and 1000 South Myrtle Street. These locations will be permitted for one year, with an option to be renewed for an additional year. The City has been actively meeting with residents and neighborhood leaders ahead of today’s announcement and will continue to engage with the community as the sites are established. Upcoming community meetings are:
Monday, January 23, 2017
Georgetown Community Council Meeting
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Old Georgetown City Hall, 6202 13th Ave South
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Myers Way Community Council Meeting
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: City of Seattle – Joint Training Facility, 9401 Myers Way South
Additional meetings with South Park and Aurora/Licton Springs community groups are being scheduled.
The emergency orders sent to City Council today are part of Bridging the Gap to Pathways Home, Mayor Murray’s interim plan to address the immediate needs of people living unsheltered, while the City fully implements its long-term plan, Pathways Home.
We are following up with the mayor’s office to ask for a copy of the “emergency orders” and also to ask whether a decision has been made on whether the Myers Way encampment will continue to be self-managed as Camp Second Chance (which moved there, unauthorized, last summer) or whether a nonprofit is being sought to run it.
ADDED 4:41 PM: Here’s the order for the Myers site. Mayoral spokesperson William Lemke says they’re still working on who will operate it.
Two weeks after the city’s director of homelessness led a meeting (WSB coverage here) about the plan to officially authorize and expand the encampment that’s just inside the gateway to the west side of the Myers Way Parcels, George Scarola has sent this update/recap:
On December 8th my office organized and led a community meeting at the Greenbridge Learning Center to discuss the City’s decision to make the homeless encampment on city-owned property at Myers Way one of three new City-sanctioned encampments. This is the site where Camp 2nd Chance is currently operating. The plan would allow current campers to stay and expand the number of people living there from 20 to 60 or 70.
The City is setting up new encampments because it has adopted a key recommendation from the Task Force on Unsanctioned Encampments: when people are required to move from unsafe, illegal encampments, the City should offer safe alternative places to live. Attached is a fact sheet with FAQs that was distributed at the meeting.
The primary purpose of the December 8th meeting was to listen to concerns and questions from members of the surrounding communities. Approximately 50 people attended, as well as officials from the Police Department, the Human Services Department, the Department of Neighborhoods, and the Department of Financial and Administrative Services. I am attaching notes from the meeting which lists questions, requests and comments from community members and City officials.
The next step in the community notification process will be a second community-wide meeting in January at a time and place to be determined. At that meeting we plan to have a team of City officials on hand to address the concerns and questions raised by the community. It is our intention to do all we can to make the encampment at Myers Way a safe, clean place for its residents and a good neighbor to the surrounding communities.
We’ve uploaded the two documents mentioned above – here’s the FAQ; here are the city’s meeting notes. Also of note, the Highland Park Action Committee‘s letter sent to Scarola last week, 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: Read More
By Linda Ball
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
To say that emotions ran high at last night’s meeting about the city’s plan for an authorized encampment on Myers Way is an understatement.
Led by George Scarola, the city’s director of homelessness, the meeting included an invited group of about 40 concerned neighborhood advocates, and escalated into raised voices and statements of clear dissatisfaction with the city, one week after Mayor Murray’s announcement of three new encampments around the city, including this one.
In an overview of the homeless problem citywide, Scarola said there were 3,000 unsheltered people on the streets of Seattle as he spoke, and even more if you counted those in shelters. Countywide, he said 10,000 are homeless, 4,500 of those unsheltered. “Something different is happening,” he said of the problem. “It’s a phenomenon that has become common.”
The city’s plan, he said, is to get homeless people only what they need as fast as possible – not a “Cadillac” but to get them sheltered. The city is working with various non-profit organizations to become more effective in solving this dilemma. In the meantime, the city needs to address those 3,000 people, without them living in parks, on school grounds or on sidewalks.
Folks living on the edge – under freeways, on the edge of parks – will be asked to move and given 72 hours to do so, Scarola said, with the offer of a warm place to stay. Camp Second Chance, which moved to the city-owned Myers Way Parcels last July, is currently unsanctioned, but is slated to be one of three new sanctioned homeless encampments within the city. 20 tents are there now; the city says 50 will be added. Rules would apply – it would be a clean and sober community, as its organizers say it is now. People would be allowed to bring partners and pets. Read More
(UPDATED 6:30 PM with comment from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold)
4:44 PM: A month and a half ago, during the uproar about whether camping would be allowed in city parks, Mayor Murray promised to announce four new authorized encampment sites. Since then, city staff has been reviewing locations, and has just announced three sites – including one in southeast West Seattle, part of the city-owned Myers Way Parcels. Here’s the announcement just in:
Today, the Human Services Department announced the siting of three new temporary sanctioned encampments for individuals living unsheltered in Seattle. This action is part of the Bridging the Gap plan, announced in October, to better address the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness while the City fully implements its long-term plan, Pathways Home.
Together, the following three new sanctioned encampments will serve more than 200 people starting in early 2017:
1. 1000 S Myrtle Street will contain up to 50 tiny houses serving 60-70 people.
2. 8620 Nesbit Ave N. will contain up to 50 tiny houses serving 60-70 people.
3. 9701 Myers Way S will contain up to 50 tents serving 60-70 people.
“Today’s announcement recognizes our need to provide safer alternatives to the people living unsheltered on our streets as we work to implement Pathways Home,” said Catherine Lester, Director of the Human Services Department. “We remain committed to our long-term plan to transform our homeless services system and focus our investments on getting people off the streets and into housing. In the meantime, we will continue the work of increasing our outreach efforts, implementing a more compassionate set of protocols when cleanups are necessary and offering trash and needle pickup services.”
In October, Mayor Murray announced the Bridging the Gap plan, which recognizes that the City should not displace unauthorized encampments that do not pose an imminent health or safety risk or do not unlawfully obstruct a public use, unless the City can offer those living there a safer alternative place to live. The plan reflects the principles laid out by the Task Force on Unsheltered Cleanup Protocols.
That announcement came a month after Mayor Murray announced Pathways Home, Seattle’s plan to transform our homeless services system by focusing our investments on the goal of getting people into stable housing. The plan aims to eliminate barriers to better meet the individualized needs of those experiencing homelessness, shift investments where necessary to achieve the goal of moving people into housing, and increase accountability to this goal through performance-based contracting.
The first of the authorized encampments is scheduled to open in early January.
Additional information about the Mayor’s actions to address homelessness can be found here.
There’s already an unauthorized encampment – Camp Second Chance – on part of the Myers Way Parcels (it was slated for eviction four months ago but that was shelved indefinitely). We have asked the Human Services Department to clarify if that camp is included in this plan or not. (ADDED: Spokesperson Chelsea Kellogg says this is the same site CSC is on.)
BACKSTORY: At one point, the mayor planned to sell part of the Myers Way Parcels to raise money for homelessness-related programs. Then he announced in mid-July that most of it would be kept for open-space purposes, except for a section to be used to expand the Joint Training Facility that borders it to the north.
Related to that – and immediately preceding this announcement – local advocates had learned that the site had yet to be transferred to the Parks Department, as the mayor had indicated it would be, and instead remains in the portfolio of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which remains accountable for its maintenance. Councilmember Lisa Herbold subsequently learned of this and asked Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre about it. His reply to her: “Although the property has been committed to and designated to be transferred to SPR’s inventory, the official transfer has not yet happened. Finally, since we do not have the funds to maintain the property, FAS has agreed to continue doing so. We will update our maps listing the land-banked sites to include the Myers Way site moving forward, with the caveat that there is not yet funding available for the development of the site.” (“Land-banked” refers to sites Parks owns – such as the Morgan Junction Park expansion site and the Charlestown and 40th SW sites in West Seattle – but has not yet developed with park facilities.) How, or whether, this relates to the encampment announcement is not yet clear.
The Myers Way Parcels have had other proposed uses in the past, including, in the late 2000s, consideration as a possible site for a new city jail that ultimately wasn’t built.
ADDED 6:30 PM: From Councilmember Herbold:
Because I know Highland Park residents have expressed concerns about equity with the rest of District, I asked what criteria HSD used to select the approximately 50 sites throughout Seattle that were deemed eligible for consideration. Here is what I was told:
Urgency: The primary review focused on city-owned parcels that could be activated quickly based on site conditions and current use of the property.
Geographic distribution: They primarily focused on parcels located in different areas of the city from the 3 existing authorized encampments.
Authorized Encampment Ordinance: They prioritized sites based on how they met the requirements of the authorized encampment ordinance, including location in non-residential zones, availability of transit, minimum lot size of 5000 sf, adjacent uses, etc.
Underlying Financing: As a budgetary consideration, they evaluated the underlying ownership/financing of sites to determine the amount of required compensation for the use of the site (e.g. utility ownership or gas tax financing).
Given these criteria, they evaluated about 50 possible sites for the new authorized encampments and of those sites, 5 were located in West Seattle. I’ve asked what the other 3 sites were. One of those was the old Nickelsville site. Specifically, I’d like to be able to explain to the community what made the other two sites in West Seattle less desirable.
The Mayor’s Office has told me that they will pledge to work closely with the surrounding communities to make the Myers Way site a good home for encampment occupants and a good neighbor to the surrounding communities.
We have additional followup questions we’ll be pursuing with the city tomorrow.
10:48 PM: Last time we heard from Camp Second Chance, the encampment that moved from a Tukwila church to a private site on Myers Way, and then to city-owned land across the street, it had a deadline to clear out: The city had posted a warning that it would clear the site at 9:30 yesterday morning. But it didn’t happen; a social-media post by the camp’s nonprofit sponsor said the city extended the deadline until tomorrow. That apparently isn’t happening either; tonight, the camp liaison contacted us to say they’d received word of another extension, to “mid- to late-August.” The camp is hoping the city will allow them to stay until they find a new, authorized site; they say they might have an offer of one on private land in South Park. Meantime, we’ll be checking with the city tomorrow.
THURSDAY NOTE: An SPD Community Police Team officer who’s been focused on homelessness-related efforts tells WSB the “week or two” reprieve claim is accurate.
Another development today in the saga of the encampment Camp Second Chance.
First, the backstory: Eleven days ago, after three months of being hosted by a church in Tukwila, the camp set up on what turned out to be private land next to the east side of the City of Seattle-owned Myers Way Parcels (WSB report, July 18th). The land’s owner asked them to leave, and they said they would.
That move last weekend took Camp Second Chance across the street (WSB report, July 24th) and just inside the Myers Way Parcels’ main gate on the west side of the street. This past Monday night, when the mayor and city department heads were in West Seattle for the Roxhill/Westwood Find It, Fix It Walk, we asked the city’s real-estate-handling department (Finance and Administrative Services) director Fred Podesta about the camp; he told us (WSB report, July 25th) it was unauthorized and would at some point be told to leave.
That point has already arrived. Polly Trout from Patacara Community Services, the nonprofit that has been working with the camp, just sent the photo atop this story, showing the eviction notice she says the city gave them yesterday, warning the area will be swept next Tuesday (August 2nd). From her e-mail:
On July 28, the City of Seattle gave official notice to Camp Second Chance that they must vacate the unused city lot that they are occupying by this coming Tuesday, August 2, or be swept. Please call Mayor Murray and ask him to give the camp three months on the site while they continue to look for a new host site.
Camp Second Chance is a sober and well managed homeless encampment. The camp is self-governing and receiving supportive services from my 501c3 nonprofit, Patacara Community Services. They have a code of conduct, 24 hour security, Honey Buckets, and trash removal. The community is clean, safe, and ethical.
Until July 18, the camp had a legal site at Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila. They were there for three months, as per their agreement with the church, and have been invited to move back there in January. However, they were unable to find another host site in time, and they wanted to honor their three month agreement with the church, so they have moved to a Seattle city owned lot that has been unused and vacant for several years. They are continuing to search for a new permitted site sponsored by a religious organization and plan to move as soon as they have located one.
The camp is home to 25 adults, one toddler, and two dogs. Most of the camp residents are working. I firmly believe that ALL people deserve a safe place to sleep, but believe me when I say: I know this community well and you will never meet a more decent and hardworking group of citizens and neighbors. Seattle has declared a state of emergency around homelessness; right now, there are probably 100 homeless encampments in Seattle. All of them are necessary, under the circumstances, because people have no place else to go.
The camp residents do more than just care for themselves and each other. They also give back to the neighborhood by doing voluntary outreach and resource referral to other homeless people in the area, and deter crime and illegal dumping on their block.
I urge you to contact Mayor Murray and ask him: With so much suffering in the city, why is the city spending tax dollars to sweep an encampment that is sober and well managed, on public land that would not otherwise be in use? Please urge him to stop ALL sweeps until everyone has a safe and legal place to be, but especially not to prioritize sweeping a camp that is doing such a stellar job of providing safety, compassion, dignity, and hope to its members. …
Trout asks anyone with a site to offer to contact her at email@example.com and asks supporters to contact FAS director Podesta, and/or Mayor Murray and/or City Councilmembers. Just last night, by the way, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold – whose district includes the Myers Way Parcels – included information on the encampment situation in her latest update to constituents. You can read it in full here; this excerpt seems to run contrary to what is happening now:
… Over the months that I have been on the City Council there has been much discussion of how the City should work with people living in encampments. We are a City with very long lines for shelter and years’ long waiting lists for affordable housing and rent assistance. Whether caused by a lack of access to housing or a reluctance to accept help when available, sometime it takes time for outreach workers to help campers. As part of these discussions I have urged the Executive not only to have its work guided by established public health and safety prioritization criteria, but I’ve asked whether outreach workers have the ability to ask for more time if – in their estimation – more time would help get campers access to services. I have been assured that the Executive’s administrative protocols do allow for a “go slow” approach in these instances. As it relates specifically to the Myers Way properties, I have told the Executive that:
I understand that complaints have been made about the encampment and that this obligates the City to accept those complaints;
As it relates to acting on these complaints, I believe health and safety prioritization criteria should be used in determining when to schedule action on this encampment;
I want a report on the outreach and services being provided to the campers with assurances that should outreach workers find that more time will result in better outcomes for the campers that more time will be given;
and I’d like the City, in the interim, to provide garbage services for the campers, consistent with the encampment garbage removal project I proposed in March.
We’ll be checking with her this afternoon during her local office hours as to what she knows about the planned sweep at the site. (Added 3:25 pm: We talked with Councilmember Herbold at SWNSC a short time ago. She said she is aware of the sweep plan but has yet to hear back on the requests she made prior to writing her update, which in turn was before word that the camp had received notice to clear out.)
(back to original report) Meantime, Polly Trout’s e-mail ended with this:
This crisis does not go away when we turn our heads. If we work together and act now, we can fix this. Please join me in doing everything we can to make sure every person has a safe place to sleep tonight. I don’t want to live in a county where this kind of suffering is normalized. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that when women are beaten to death under bridges because nobody cares enough to give them a safe place to sleep we just ignore it, because there is nothing we can do about it. This is NOT inevitable and we CAN end this. But not by chasing homeless people around and destroying their survival gear while public land goes unused behind locked gates. That is not working. If the camp needs to move, let’s all work together to find them a better and legal place to be and then move them there.