West Seattle, Washington
Volunteers from West Seattle’s Vietnamese Cultural Center kept their tradition of Thanksgiving giving for the encampment residents of “Nickelsville,” even though it moved on to three new locations three months ago. Center director Lee Bui shares the photos. He says the group led by Dr. Tran Hai Khanh, M.D., went to all three sites within a few hours at midday today, first Skyway, then the two encampments in central Seattle. The brought clothes and seafood gumbo and gave haircuts and vaccinations.
Bui says that while it was foggy, it was more beautiful than last year since it wasn’t raining!
The Vietnamese Cultural Center, if you haven’t been, is at 2236 SW Orchard, a block west of Delridge, and is open to the public on Saturday afternoons. This is the third year it’s brought a group of volunteers to Nickelsville – at the West Seattle site in 2011 and 2012, and now the three others – for Thanksgiving.
Sunday – which is when WSB reader Kevin McClintic took these photos – was the eighth and final day for campers to clean up the former “Nickelsville” site at 7116 W. Marginal Way SW. Mayoral spokesperson Aaron Pickus confirmed to WSB today that the city had granted them access through the weekend, but that’s now over.
What they left behind consists mostly of a big stack of wood – this and more:
We noticed the giant pile when passing the site this afternoon. The city Department of Finance and Administrative Services is in charge of the city work at the site now, according to Pickus, so we checked with FAS spokesperson Katherine Schubert-Knapp. She says that installation of the temporary chain-link fence was to be completed today, as well as other work: “This fence will remain on site for up to six months as needed. Cleanup also start(ed) today, focusing first in the west side park and ride area. We’re hoping to finish that section by tomorrow and crews will then focus on the property inside the fence. That work should start this week and is expected to be completed by Sept. 20.” If you are just catching up with this story, after almost 2 1/2 years of occupying the West Marginal Way site, the encampment did not challenge city leaders’ plan to close it as of September 1st, and have since moved to three other sites, in the Central District, Madison Valley, and unincorporated Skyway.
The cleanup and moving operation at the former “Nickelsville” site is in its seventh day. Top photo is the view from the former parking-lot entrance. The parking lot itself is a hub of activity as the remaining “5S”‘s are moved – the “small simple sturdy sleeping structures” still standing on the east end of the site. Today is a day to try to get all 14 of them moved, the camp announced via Facebook, so we went back for these photos:
The forklift and trucks are vital to what they’re doing now – trying to get those structures to the new campsites in the Central District, Madison Valley, and Skyway.
As we reported Thursday, the city has fenced off the site; the mayor’s office confirmed that the former campers would have access through Friday to continue cleanup, but that’s apparently been extended – we’ll check back with them Monday.
On the fourth day after “Moving Day,” the former site of the “Nickelsville” encampment at 7116 West Marginal Way SW in West Seattle still isn’t clear; the photo above, taken this afternoon, shows the view southeast into the site from what was its parking-lot entrance. However, a chain-link fence went up today around its perimeter, as the city had promised – this view is from that same side, atop the steps:
And this view is on the north side, along Highland Park Way SW:
According to the Nickelsville Works Facebook page, the city will allow them access to the site through the end of tomorrow (Friday, September 6th) to clean up and pack up what’s left following the move to three other sites (all shown in our Sunday coverage). Mayoral spokesperson Aaron Pickus confirms that, and tells WSB that once that extension is over, “The City will clean up with the site with the appropriate equipment.”
Meanwhile, the city also continues to post and clear small campsites found in other areas. A resident tipped us to some clearing work in a greenbelt area along California Way between North Admiral and east Alki; it had been posted in July, and the cleanup crew left a big stack of bags Wednesday afternoon:
The city’s approach to smaller campsites continues to follow what was outlined here three years ago, according to Pickus.
(UPDATED 9:04 PM with photos from our early-evening return visits to the four sites – scroll down)
11:56 AM: This is the date set by the City Council in June for closure of the West Seattle site that for more than two years has been home to the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville.” As we’ve reported in ongoing coverage, the encampment announced it has three new sites. We’re checking in on the move as today proceeds, starting with a look at those three sites (mapped here) so we have “before and after” photos. At 11 am, an hour into the announced schedule for “moving day,” we stopped at 2020 S. Jackson:
Porta-potties were in view, as were “no parking” signs for today only. The only person in view was someone getting ready to do some weed-whacking. The site is owned by the Low-Income Housing Institute, per county records; it owns Ernestine Anderson Place next door, described as “60 units for homeless and low-income seniors.” From there, we headed north to the 1419 22nd Ave. site, photographed at 11:07 am, no one there yet:
That site is owned by the adjacent-to-the-south Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. From there, via I-5, we got to the Skyway site at 11:25. It’s at 12914 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., a busy freeway-like stretch between I-5 and Renton, which according to property records used to hold a tavern and motel; its ownership is listed as an LLC held by Pete Sikov, who gained fame in 2005 as owner of Jimi Hendrix‘s boyhood home. Photo
It’s the largest site but also, as had been noted on the Nickelsville Works Facebook page, choked with overgrowth. No one on site as of 11:35 am, but two porta-potties are in view, as with the other two sites. Next, what’s happening at the West Seattle site right now; arriving in the area, we found ourselves behind a van containing the Nickelsville goats, whom we’re told are headed to munch on the Skyway overgrowth.
12:51 PM: The photo above is our overview from right about noon. Lots of work in view:
And belongings gathered up:
The view further into the camp:
We’ll revisit the sites late in the day for updates.
2:55 PM UPDATE: In our update last Thursday, we showed the encampment flyer that included a schedule for cleaning up the site over the next three days. Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Carolyn Stauffer says the city has sanctioned that: “I just heard from Jerry DeGrieck / Mayor’s office- with an update: They are going to allow access to the current Nickelsville site through Wednesday for time to move, clear and clean up the site; there will be added security at the site through that time, and a fence will go up on Thursday.”
8:55 PM UPDATE: As planned, we revisited the sites past and present early this evening, in the 6 pm hour. If you’re reading this from the home page, click ahead to see; otherwise, just keep scrolling:
(UPDATED SATURDAY MORNING with addresses of all three new sites, and the map below)
With the deadline for vacating the “Nickelsville” encampment site in West Seattle coming up Sunday, plans to move to 3 new sites, as first announced two nights ago, are intensifying.
The two additional new sites were disclosed this afternoon, we’re told, but we have not found the addresses publicly posted. One TV report tonight says that in addition to the previously reported 20th/Jackson site in the Central District, there’s a second site in the Central District, and the third is in Skyway.
(SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: The sites, with photos, are now posted/listed on the Nickelsville Works Facebook page.
*12914 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., Skyway.
*Behind Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1419 22nd Ave.
*The first site announced, 2020 South Jackson St.)
As noted here last night, there are public requests for help with the move on Sunday. The newest one involves the encampment’s pets. Teri Ensley with West Seattle-based Furry Faces Foundation is helping organize the efforts and tells WSB:
We have a solid, collective plan in place for the safekeeping of the pets during the move and transportation of them to the new sites with their people.
The Nickelsville Pet Coordinator has contacted us with the following requests for pets to help the move go more smoothly and safely for the animals:
1) Clean Cat Crates, in good working order.
2) Freshly washed used towels (for use in the crates)
4) Collars – both cat and dog (especially cat collars/harnesses)
Items may be dropped:
· On the front porch of my house, located at 3809 46th Ave SW
· At Pet Elements, located in Morgan Junction
· At the Nickelsville Security Desk (7116 W. Marginal Way SW)
Ideally, we need items by Saturday, however, are happy to accept them any time.
This is all to facilitate keeping cats crated and dogs leashed at the soon-to-be-former site on moving day Sunday, where the pets will be watched throughout a day filled with “a lot of commotion,” as Ensley puts it. “In the evening, when the move is complete and tents/housing structures set up at the new sites, the animal companions will be transported to their new location.”
To facilitate that, each cat crate or dog leash will have a form with the owner’s name/contact info, pet’s name, and the site that pet/human will be moving to. F3 has been working on pet tagging lately and
“is also hoping to engrave new pet id tags for each of the animals which includes any new contact info,” according to Ensley.
She adds that Seattle Animal Shelter “has been very supportive with ideas and suggestions,” will accept any pets that have to be surrendered, and has spayed/neutered more than 40 Nickelsville pets.
Previous WSB coverage of Nickelsville is archived here, newest to oldest.
Again tonight, members of the Westside Interfaith Network kept a roadside vigil just outside the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville,” which by all indications is now gearing up for a moving day Sunday, city officials’ declared deadline for closing the site, rather than for a standoff.
As reported here last night, the encampment says it has secured three sites, and plans to announce the second and third locations tomorrow; the first one announced is at 20th and Jackson in the Central District.
The newest update on the encampment’s official Facebook page “Nickelsville Works“ includes the flyer below with a schedule for moving, and for cleaning up the current site, once it’s vacated:
Closing and clearing the site would be a step toward enabling its sale to Food Lifeline, which wants to build a new headquarters for its work fighting hunger in the region. But it’s not the only site FL is examining, according to development director Amy Lee Derenthal: “We have a couple other sites we’re looking at and doing our due diligence to make sure we make the best decision as to where we’ll build our Hunger Solution Center. The West Marginal Way site has been our preferred site and once we finish our due diligence process, we’ll let the community at large know of our plans. … Food Lifeline has been working with Low Income Housing representatives, the Church Council and the residents of Nickelsville for the last 15 months to help them find a more suitable location. The current site does not have very good transit options and it floods in the winter months. We help provide food to the Nickelsville community through one of our agencies, Operation Sack Lunch, and will continue to do so when they do eventually move.” It’s been almost 11 months since FL’s interest in the West Seattle site surfaced.
Eviction won’t be necessary – ‘Nickelsville’ says it has secured three sites so that everyone can move. That’s according to an announcement minutes ago on the encampment’s official Facebook page:
Great news! Nickelsville has secured two more sites and will be moving this Sunday. We’re notifying the neighbors before announcing the two additional sites on Friday afternoon. There are many ways you can help with the move, either by helping us pack up the trucks, donating money to pay for our bills at this site, or donating materials such as 33 gallon trash bags, duct tape, basic tools such as hammers, or bringing food and water on moving day.
The one site that already has been announced is in the Central District, at 20th and Jackson. Also posted on the Nickelsville Works page, a photo of a flyer with packing/moving instructions for camp residents. More to come.
(WSB photo from Monday night, looking southeast from the encampment’s main gate)
Less than a week remains until September 1st, the date the city has proclaimed and posted for closing the site where the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” has been for more than two years. Again tonight, the Westside Interfaith Network brought volunteers to keep vigil outside the encampment, near the busy intersection of West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW:
Organizer Mary Anne deVry says her understanding is that people are continuing to arrive at Nickelsville, rather than clearing out as the deadline nears; we had heard the same thing in our conversation with a manager from Union Gospel Mission, brought in by the city to spend at least some of the allocated $500,000 to find housing and other services for campers. But again, this week’s nightly vigils by WIN (6-9 pm each evening through Saturday) – a primarily faith-based coalition of churches/organizations in the West Seattle/White Center vicinity – are meant to shine a light on the plight of homeless people, not necessarily to oppose the closure of the encampment, although deVry and other volunteers continue to wonder where the estimated 150 or so there will go.
They shouldn’t have been allowed to put down roots there in the first place, contends Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Carolyn Stauffer, whose community council is headquartered just up the Highland Park Way hill.
That sign quoting former Vice President Hubert Humphrey was held by the youngest of just over a dozen people standing in a patch of dead grass on the roadside outside the main entrance to “Nickelsville” this past hour. It was also the only sign in evidence – Mary Anne deVry from the Westside Interfaith Network, the coalition of area churches/faith groups starting a week of vigils there, said they will probably bring one or more tomorrow. For now, they are waving flashlights:
That’s to underscore their intent – to “shine a light” on homelessness in Seattle. WIN announced Friday that they would hold a vigil each night through next Saturday, 6-10 pm. Next Sunday is September 1st – the date that Seattle elected officials have decreed as closure day for the camp, proclaimed on signs installed by its entrance:
Some of the half-million dollars the City Council approved for getting people out of the camp and into housing has so far placed 47 people, according to Union Gospel Mission, the organization tabbed by the city to work on relocating “campers” – but, as a UGM manager acknowledged in an interview with WSB on Friday, that hasn’t reduced the population. It’s estimated at least 125 people are there now, up from fewer than 100 when the relocation effort began. The Nickelsville Central Committee has said publicly that it hopes to move to three sites, only one of which – in the Central District – has been formally announced. But it was evident tonight that housekeeping/cleanup is under way:
The wood that was being carried out and stacked in the parking area had been lining pathways but is no longer needed, we were told. Meantime, deVry told us that the local church representatives had served a meal at the camp tonight, before walking over to the roadside for the casual vigil. They’ll be back tomorrow, same time, 6-10 pm, and anyone interested in calling attention to homelessness – whether you support “Nickelsville” or not – is welcome.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two months gone since the vote, eight days to go, until the deadline city leaders set for closing the West Seattle site to which the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned two years ago.
On Friday, we reported on the Westside Interfaith Network‘s plan to hold nightly vigils for a week, from tomorrow through next Saturday (August 31st) – not to demand that the encampment be allowed to stay open, but simply, WIN’s Mary Anne deVry says, to remind the greater community that homelessness remains an unsolved problem.
After publishing that story, we talked with Terry Pallas from Union Gospel Mission, which has an agreement with the city to find housing and services for Nickelsville “campers” with the money (up to $500,000) that City Councilmembers voted in June to spend.
How is it being spent?
(UPDATED 3:34 pm with new information from Union Gospel Mission – scroll to end)
Nine days remain until the September 1st date by which city leaders committed to closing the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville,” on mostly city-owned land at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way. By multiple accounts – including the one you’ll see below – the number of people there has increased instead of decreased. What will happen when September 1st arrives, remains to be seen. First: We asked for comment from the mayor, whose spokesperson Aaron Pickus replies:
I’m not going to speculate on what will happen on September 1st. What I can say is that our focus is to find shelter for those currently living at the site.
In June, when 7 councilmembers called for the closure, the mayor replied that he would “follow the City Council’s direction to evict those who remain” if the site isn’t vacant on September 1st.
The City Council, which called for the closure, is on its summer break right now, so no official discussions are scheduled on their part. But the latest acknowledgment that the closure date is approaching comes from the Westside Interfaith Network, a coalition of local churches and faith-based groups that has long coalesced around the issue of homelessness. We covered its forum on the issue in mid-June. WIN’s Mary Anne deVry says the group plans nightly vigils at Nickelsville starting this Sunday – NOT to demand that it stay open, but to show their concern about the unsolved problem of homelessness. She writes:
Westside Inferfaith Network (WIN) met this week and decided to hold a vigil at Nickelsville’s parking lot each evening next week (Sun. 8/25 thru Sat. 8/31). This idea arose as we were discussing the growing crisis of homeless people. Our idea is based on these facts:
-Nickelsville is closing (September 1st) & there are still ~150 residents with no confirmed place to move,
-There’s a steady increase of homeless people (recently 9 families asked shelter at N’ville in a 13 day period–& many couples/singles keep coming–none of them were looking for “freebies!)
-2-1-1 reports shelters are full (most people coming to N’ville are told to do so by 2-1-1),
-it’s not safe to live in the greenbelt or city streets.
-We also know literally tens of thousands of people in our area struggle on the brink of homelessness. There will be future homeless people.
Been wondering who would get the money approved by the City Council this week to help move out Nickelsville residents so the encampment can be closed by September 1st? Union Gospel Mission just announced they’re working with the city:
Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (“the Mission”) is developing a contract with the City of Seattle’s (“the City”) Human Services Department to help Nickelsville residents transition to permanent housing and get back on their feet. This comes as a result of the $500,000 appropriated by the City this week to assist the residents of Nickelsville to secure housing, shelter and services over the next several months.
“The Mission looks forward to walking beside the 160 individuals and families who desire a pathway out of homelessness. Mission staff will develop relationships with individuals and families wanting assistance, assessing their needs, finding appropriate housing options, and meeting with them on a weekly basis for up to a year with the goal of each person becoming fully self-reliant,” said Jeff Lilley, the Mission’s president.
The Mission will offer:
1. Relocation assistance to permanent housing for all Nickelsville residents – though all are free to seek their own alternatives.
2. Assisted and case-managed housing, up to one year – with the goal to have residents fully self-reliant at the end of that year.
3. Case management to help residents develop self-sustainable skills, utilizing existing resources as needed, including the Mission’s legal services, dental clinic, community job sources, etc.
4. Evaluation and referral services to those residents requesting entrance into recovery programs – guaranteeing a treatment bed in the Mission’s programs if they so choose (or a referral to other program).
5. Emergency shelter beds at Mission facilities during this transition period as needed.
“The Mission will not manage Nickelsville during this time, just assist in the relocation process. The project has many challenges as well as opportunities, and the Mission, with funding from the City, will begin work right away, ” said Lilley.
(Photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
The two City Council members who did not sign last week’s letter calling for the Nickelsville encampment’s closure by September 1st were among three councilmembers who came to West Seattle last night for a forum on homelessness.
Their divergent positions on the matter were evident when all three – Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien, who weren’t part of the letter, and Tom Rasmussen, who was – responded to an audience question asking about “the plan” for the shutdown. We have that part of the discussion on video:
Ahead, the rest of what was discussed – what’s the city doing regarding homelessness in general, and what community members can do to help:
Seven City Councilmembers‘ letter proposing closing the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” is now followed up with a proposed ordinance to be introduced next Monday. It declares the situation an “emergency” for reasons including:
The City Council finds that the encampment located at 7116 W Marginal Way SW has created a public health and safety risk due to ongoing and potential public health and safety issues, as indicated by (1) numerous 9-1-1 calls and police investigations of criminal activities, and (2) a Phase I Environmental Assessment that addresses potential environmental contamination of the property. As such, the City Council finds that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety and believes that the City should act immediately to move the campers off of the site and into appropriate shelter, housing and services.
If passed, the ordinance would appropriate half a million dollars for “a non-profit organization to provide outreach, engagement, case management, shelter, housing and other services to the campers at 7116 W Marginal Way SW” in order to move them out and close the camp by September 1st. We’re checking now on how that organization will be chosen and when.
2:23 PM UPDATE: City Council communicator Dan Nolte says this is scheduled for a vote during the full council’s 2 pm meeting July 8th.
2:10 PM: If you click the “play” button above, it’ll take you to the live feed from City Hall, where the City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee is starting its meeting, with the agenda including an item on the “Nickelsville” site. More to come.
2:18 PM: Public comment is beginning. Those who speak can address anything coming up on the agenda. The first two speakers voiced support for SHARE, the organization that runs shelters around the city. The third, Trace De Garmo, is speaking specifically to Nickelsville: “If you want to speed up our move now, please temporarily provide us with water and electricity hookups.” He says they want two religiously controlled sites, for up to two years, to house up to 200 people. The committee’s chair, Councilmember Nick Licata, is questioning him to verify that Nickelsville has not yet found such sites. The next person says Nickelsville found out about the 7 councilmembers’ “close it by September 1st” letter when media crews started showing up later Monday. She is reading its official response letter – see it here, or here:
The next person says shutting Nickelsville down “would be doing a great disservice” to the city as well as to the encampment itself; followed by another person who says “Nickelsville is badly needed” because of the shelter shortage, and mentions Nickelsville’s vision of being an “eco-village.” Dorli Rainey, speaking next, tells the council, “What you are doing is splitting families.” The next speaker says he is ashamed of having to turn people away from shelters.
A representative of the Low-Income Housing Institute next tells the council they are considering making land available for an encampment. She is followed by a woman who says she supports homeless people but has seen problems with SHARE and has tried to talk with the city – which contracts with SHARE – about it, but contends no one will do anything about it.
2:47 PM: Another commenter points out the police presence at City Hall and is contentiously accusing the council of being unfair to the homeless people who have spoken. Minutes later, public comment ends, and the chambers are all but clearing, though Licata reminds everyone that the Nickelsville-related item is coming up third on the agenda.
3:04 PM: The committee is now discussing the Nickelsville-related item – which isn’t up for a vote, but more a decision on which way they want to proceed. Outside City Hall, the pro-encampment protest has begun; Emily Heffter from The Seattle Times (WSB partner) tweeted this photo showing demonstrators on the steps.
Back inside, Licata is saying that the Monday letter from seven of his Council colleagues did not seem to him to be “anti-encampment.” One of the signers, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, is agreeing. She says she believes Nickelsville residents “have created community.” She wonders if the proposal to expand possible encampment sites could also include property owned by nonprofits. The philosophical conversation continues.
3:21 PM: Licata says he wants to talk now about specifics about “what we’ll be facing in the next couple months” – specifically, the mayor’s response that if the council wants the camp cleared by September 1st, he will follow their directive to evict anyone who’s left then. And he envisions that not everyone will have left, “so we’re going to be faced with not a good photo op.”
3:44 PM: They’re still trying to shape what the rules would be. Licata notes that Nickelsville has 125 people now. Should legislation, they’re discussing, put a limit on the number of sites? Councilmember Bruce Harrell says, what about people who choose to live in tents? Licata assistant Lisa Herbold says it’s not like they have an option to go into long-term housing, because it has waiting lists: “The function of a tent city is not an alternative to long-term housing, it’s someplace you go while you wait for long-term housing.”
4:04 PM: The document accompanying this agenda, by the way, is here. Option 2, the committee agrees, possibly leaving Nickelsville at the current site, “is off the table.”
(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:
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.
The agenda is out for next Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee – and, as first reported here last week, it includes a discussion about the future of the site that currently houses the “Nickelsville” encampment – as described on the agenda:
Options Related to Future Use of the “Glassyard” property located south of Highland Park Way Southwest between 2nd Avenue Southwest and South Myrtle Street
The two ordinances listed for discussion are CB 117791, Councilmember Nick Licata‘s proposal to expand the types of sites citywide that could host encampments – which is still moving toward a formal public hearing June 25th – and CB 117792, Mayor McGinn’s proposed alternative (if the Licata bill is not passed) that would appropriate money for an environmental study of making the “Nickelsville” site semi-permanent. The Wednesday (June 12) committee meeting is at 2 pm at City Hall and starts with a public comment session that can pertain to this or any other item on the agenda, and will be live on Seattle Channel (cable 21 or online) if you can’t be there.
Since last week’s City Council discussion of possible next steps regarding the “Nickelsville” encampment now in its third year in West Seattle (WSB as-it-happened coverage here), we’ve been following up regarding what’s next. So far, there are two public meetings of note, both at City Hall downtown: One, as mentioned in last week’s coverage, is 5:30 pm June 25th; that’s the formal public hearing on Councilmember Nick Licata‘s proposal to expand the areas of the city in which encampments would be allowed; here’s the official notice with details. Before that, however, Licata staffer Lisa Herbold confirms to WSB that the committee he chairs – Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture – will take up the overall issue of Nickelsville’s future during the committee’s next regular meeting at 2 pm Wednesday, June 12th. That will include the alternative proposals suggested by the mayor and by the encampment’s own Central Committee, in hopes the discussion will reveal which way councilmembers are leaning, though no final decisions will be made.
Meantime, as noted in a followup discussion at last week’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting, community members are urged to contact the mayor, councilmembers, and other decisionmakers with their opinions and ideas; HPAC’s website has more details, including contact information.
ADDED FRIDAY: Just noticed that, minutes after we published this update, Slog published a picture of a flyer that turned up posted in Crown Hill, equating HPAC – whose leadership met with the mayor last week, though no notable progress is reported – with NIMBYism. Anyone seen the flyer around here?
(TOPLINE, 4:12 PM: Council discussion’s over; next step, public hearing June 25th)
(Editor’s note: What was the “live” video, above, has since been replaced with archived video of the meeting in its entirety)
We’re in the City Council chambers at City Hall downtown, along with more than 100 people, as the Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee prepares to take up two hot topics – encampments and marijuana.
We’ll be updating live, mostly on the former topic, because of the Nickelsville issue. We also hope to add the live-video window here in a moment (the 2 pm meeting is running a bit late). More to come.
2:13 PM: Public comment is about to begin. Council chair Nick Licata says each speaker will be limited to a minute and a half. First, Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness says he supports Licata’s proposal. “What we all agree about is that we need to keep working on remedies to enable interim survival plans,” he says. Next, a woman identifying herself as a Tent City 3 resident, who says excluding campers from residential areas would be discrimination. “Because I’m homeless, you don’t want me in the residential areas where kids are and stuff like that … (but) I don’t want to hurt kids.” Another Tent City 3 representative speaks next, about discrimination. “We support our friends at Nickelsville and want a good solution to their current dilemma,” but this is not it, he says.
A Nickelsville resident who says she is living there with her son and two cats is next. She says more than 125 people are there now and last summer peaked at more than 180 people. She says conditions and order are OK – except for the lack of running water, sewer, and “little police protection … We are doing great but our preference is to be moved someplace” where they would have such things. She says they “hope to move within next 2 months” without any new city codes and that they oppose the ordinances because they are not necessary.
Another Nickelsville resident, Trace DeGarmo, brings up the newly proposed Nickelsville “Option 7,” which he says would work within the current religious-encampment ordinance. They would move to two sites under control of religious organizations with whom they would sign contracts, he says. “This plan is now entirely doable” and would enable Food Lifeline to take over the current site
He is followed by Carolyn Stauffer of Highland Park Action Committee, who mentions the petition they have circulated with more than 200 names.
“We would like to see you act now and enforce the existing land use codes, because that’s your job … That it’s taken the council two years to have this conversation is shameful and disappointing,” she says, reiterating their demand that the encampment be moved before “it begins a third summer” there.
CLICK AHEAD TO READ THE REST OF OUR DETAILED AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
More updates today on the future of the encampment known as “Nickelsville” and its mostly-city-owned site:
First, from Highland Park Action Committee, which says it’s time for the encampment to move on, chair Carolyn Stauffer says:
We’ve just come back from the City Clerk’s office, where we filed a claim. We filed for “Declaratory Judgement” as to whether the Land Use Code, the Building and Construction Codes, and the Health and Safety Codes – all part of the Seattle Municipal Codes, apply to the SDOT property at 7116 West Marginal Way (current site of Nickelsville).
We filed with a “Permanent Injunction” requiring the City to move the encampment. This asks the court to clarify if that parcel of land exists outside of existing laws governing the entire City, and if it’s not, then we ask that the courts order the city to move the encampment. Our application was submitted with photos and maps documenting the encampment and the specific locations of activity in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.
We expect to hear back from them in 3-4 days with a claim number and confirmation, and then there is a 60 (day) wait period. If we don’t hear back, it opens the door to a lawsuit, which cannot be filed until this claim has been submitted … so the wheels of legal action are starting to turn, as of today.
Stauffer also says HPAC is continuing to circulate its online petition (first noted here last Friday), declaring it “is the number-one issue City Council is hearing about from citizens right now.” She also is encouraging turnout for this Wednesday’s City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee meeting at City Hall, which will include a review of two proposed ordinances that would relate to Nickelsville (both linked in our Friday report) – public comment will be at the start of the hearing, around 2 pm. You can read the rest of the HPAC update here, including a reminder that their monthly meeting is that same day, Wednesday (May 22), 7 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden).
Other updates include a clarification from the city’s Finance and Administrative Services department on the cost of an environmental study that the mayor’s proposed ordinance would require for the encampment site to be made “semi-permanent”:
(UPDATED 5:20 PM FRIDAY with ordinances to be reviewed by council committee next week)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
two three followups today to the “Nickelsville” developments first reported here last Tuesday, one day after the second anniversary of the encampment’s return to West Seattle.
Those developments centered around a letter from Mayor McGinn to Council President Sally Clark a letter (read it here) suggesting two options for the site’s future: Sell it to Food Lifeline as that agency has sought, provided the council passes a bill allowing more encampment sites at “non-religious” locations – or vote to allow the site to become a “semi-permanent” encampment.
Today’s developments (editor’s note – third development, added 5:20 pm, is at the bottom of this story – the two ordinances to be reviewed next week, including the mayor’s alternative proposal for the Nickelsville site):
HPAC PETITION AND MEETINGS: The Highland Park Action Committee, which says its area has hosted the encampment for long enough – 2 years – and is demanding a move-out date, has started an online petition. The petition calls on the city to either move it before summer, or start a public-review process for HP and Riverview immediately. Find the petition here. Here’s the statement we received along with that link:
Please pass this link on to anyone you know who owns property in the city, or to anyone that supports a better solution for the homeless. The Mayor’s actions to date have repercussions for everyone. We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten on this, we have a lot of irons in the fire right now. We are working on legal papers to file and are focusing the next few weeks on a more political route while all this legislation is coming to a head in City Council.
We are meeting with Council President Sally Clark’s aide this afternoon, and plan to meet with the Mayor at his office next Friday. We hope to have as many signatures as possible by Wednesday, May 22nd. That day there is (a) meeting of Nick Licata’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee at Seattle City Council from 2-4 where he’ll be presenting encampment legislation. Anyone who can make it to that, it would be great to try to have some community to encourage a change to the current situation. That night we have our regularly scheduled HPAC meeting, where we will discuss next steps. Join us at 7 pm, Highland Park Improvement Club on 12th and Holden.
FOOD LIFELINE: As mentioned in the mayor’s letter published here on Tuesday, Food Lifeline already has commitments from the encampment site’s other two owners to sell their parts of the parcel to FLL.
4:23 PM: One day after the second anniversary of the “Nickelsville” encampment’s return to a mostly-city-owned site in West Seattle (here’s our Monday report), Mayor McGinn says he sees two options for the site – and one of them is to pass a proposal that would allow it to be converted into a “semi-permanent” encampment site. The other option – sell the site to Food Lifeline as that agency has sought, but only after the council passes a bill that would enable more possible encampment sites at “non-religious” locations. Both options are outlined in a letter he has sent to City Council President Sally Clark; read it here (or here, added, uploaded to Scribd):
We received it in response to our query sent to the mayor’s office yesterday asking where the mayor stood on the issue.
4:33 PM UPDATE: Though the mayor’s letter says he prefers the option of selling the site to Food Lifeline once he’s sure the residents of Nickelsville will have somewhere else to go, Highland Park Action Committee chair Carolyn Stauffer, whose group had asked the mayor and council not just to promise to move Nickelsville out but to set a date, is not happy. Her response, shared with us via e-mail:
We have been holding off on contacting a lawyer with high hopes for our elected leaders, but now see the need to speak with one as soon as possible. If anyone out there could help us, please email any names or contacts that might be interested in helping HPAC pro-bono to email@example.com.
4:55 PM UPDATE: We’ve started checking with city councilmembers and their staffs to find out what’s next – since this broke late in the day, we will still be finding out more tomorrow, but for starters, the office of Councilmember Nick Licata – who proposed the “non-religious encampment” bill that the mayor says he would support – says both options will be discussed in the committee he chairs, Housing, Human Services, and Health Care, a week from tomorrow (May 22nd) at 2 pm. Licata favors proceeding with that bill and a Food Lifeline sale, according to staffer Lisa Herbold.
6 PM UPDATE: We’ve also heard back from Council President Clark. She says she is reserving substantive comment until a briefing tomorrow, but adds, “I can say that I’d like to see people living at Nickelsville find open doors into housing as soon as possible, and I’d like to see Food Lifeline land their new facility in the city.” And a statement has just arrived from Revel Smith, on behalf of SHARE/Tent City 3, not regarding Nickelsville specifically, but regarding the ordinance, which Smith says they consider “redlining,” because of what they understand is a “residential zone restriction,” which they oppose because, they say:
• Restricting camps by Ordinance from Residential Zones unfairly plays on, and accommodates, irrational fears of homeless people.
• Residential Zoning Restrictions EXCLUDE 65% of all available land in Seattle!
• NO other city or jurisdiction in King County — many of which also have Encampment Ordinances — restrict camps from Residential Zones. Therefore, there is NO REASON for Seattle to do so.
• It’s a big step back from the successful modus operandi of Tent City3 during 10 years of our operation (2002-2012) under a Consent Decree which did not have any Zoning Restrictions.
• And finally, if it’s OK for churches in Residential Zones easily to host camps (under the Religious Encampment Ordinance), why not vacant private land in those neighborhoods too? Churches can’t carry the weight of solving homelessness all on their own.
We’re checking to see if the text of the ordinance is available online.