New homeless encampment in West Seattle: “Nickelsville”


(cameraphone photo added 2:28 pm, more pix/vid to come in separate post a bit later)
Just set up in the 7100 block of West Marginal Way (map); we’ll head out for pix in a bit but in the meantime, you can see one on its official website. This, by the way, is at the intersection with Highland Park Way, same vicinity as one of the two potential city-jail sites in West Seattle. Organizers say they hope to make this a “permanent” encampment. The location was kept secret till organizers and participants, who met at four locations last night (according to their Google group) to make the move, actually set it up. According to their website, “While we are on Duwamish land, Nickelodeans are fearful that Mayor Nickels does not understand this.” The address they give, 7115 West Marginal, is Pacific Plumbing Supply’s property; we’ll check when we’re down there to see exactly what parcel they’re on. 1:10 PM UPDATE: The mayor told KING5 in an interview that just aired, “We will treat it like any other encampment – we will post it, and then clear it.” To “post” it means giving the residents 72 hours’ notice to clear out, as was done in the case of the Camp Long encampment covered here on WSB earlier this year. 2:01 PM UPDATE: Co-publisher Patrick is at the site and reports it’s on the river side of West Marginal, about 20 yards southeast of the intersection with Highland Park Way. Checking that on Parcel Viewer now … site has multiple owners but comparing it with aerial photograph of proposed jail site, looks like it’s definitely within those boundaries:


2:29 PM UPDATE: Seems the squatters didn’t know this was a proposed jail site – just a coincidence – or so they tell us; co-publisher Patrick, who is en route back with video etc., reports it’s fairly disorganized. Media swarming, of course; we ran into one newspaper columnist and one wire-service reporter. And this is now certain to be discussed at tonight’s prescheduled Highland Park Action Committee meeting (7 pm, Highland Park Improvement Club, 11th/Holden).

32 Replies to "New homeless encampment in West Seattle: "Nickelsville""

  • DW September 22, 2008 (1:12 pm)

    I’m sorry, but this is an embarrassment to Seattle. I’m actually rooting for them to be swept out of there ASAP.

    I’m sympethetic to a point, but there are legal and city resouces that need to be taken advantage of before going to a tent city.

    I’m trying to raise a kid in West Seattle and it’s sad to see all the efforts to make the place family friendly undone by that kind of element.

    Hopefully this is short lived.

  • KT September 22, 2008 (1:21 pm)

    For once I am behind what the Mayor proposes!

  • austin September 22, 2008 (1:28 pm)

    A tent city / shantytown with a website huh.

  • beef September 22, 2008 (1:47 pm)

    what’s wrong with having a website for your cause? They are relatively easy to set up and space is pretty cheap. It’s not like the Internet is hard to access if you need it (go to the library).

    My only complaint is that the 23 bus is already pretty full during the morning and afternoon commute.

  • old timer September 22, 2008 (1:47 pm)

    The number of people needing nightly shelter exceeds the number of spaces available.
    It’s only going to get worse.
    Better to consolidate these poor folks in one area where we can provide at least sani-cans, and a place for community aid groups to provide meals.

    The number of people who have chosen this as a way of life are rapidly being overwhelmed by refugees from the financial tsunami.
    As the number of people who have no other option increase, we will need something like this.
    It’s time to realize this is a human problem not one of political discourse.

    Don’t all of God’s children get a space…somewhere?

  • WS September 22, 2008 (1:51 pm)

    Why not “consolidate” them in Queen Anne or Madison Park? Why West Seattle?

  • JenV September 22, 2008 (1:54 pm)

    if they’re on Duwamish land – can the city clear them out? If the Duwamish don’t mind, and this is relatively far away from residential areas- who cares?

  • cmt September 22, 2008 (2:06 pm)

    Great, why doesn’t the city & county just use their downtown parking garage for these tent cities. They are half empty, use the top floor give them a view and sunshine. In the winter move them down a floor for cover. They can park their cars on the street if they have too. Give the neighborhoods a break.

  • Shauna September 22, 2008 (2:15 pm)

    I went down to served food at Tent City on Mercer Island last Friday. It was an eye-opening experience. ABout 80 percent of these folks are working and look just like you and me. They just can’t afford a place, or they are tryin got get back on their feet. I feel like you can’t comment on this unless you’ve done the reserach and met these folks. It’s really an eye-opening experience and change the way I view them. I am not saying I agree with this, but I do feel that we need to understand that they are not out to harm our neighborhoods, they are looking for a safe place where they can sleep so they can go to work the next day.

    As prices get higher, we are going to face this more and more so it’s a reality that we need to deal wiith. Folks making minimum wage or looking for a job can’t always afford a place to live.

  • JimmyG September 22, 2008 (2:16 pm)

    If it’s okay to have a homeless camp there I don’t know why a jail wouldn’t work at that location.

  • JimmyG September 22, 2008 (2:16 pm)

    Of course I’m one of the few that don’t have an issue with the jail going in there.

  • worms Roxanne, I'm afraid of worms. September 22, 2008 (2:36 pm)

    I’m confused, is this city land that the Tribe is saying is rightfull theirs or is it actually Tribe owned land?

    It seems like proper sanitation and garbage services in an individual location is better than having many locations where refuse and feces is not properly disposed of. This seems the likely alternative to this type of encampment. It isn’t like these folks are just going to disapear if we disband the place. They will just disperse.

    I am all for understanding the reason that this is not a reasonable alternative. Is it the fear of increased crime or other concerns?

  • Kristina September 22, 2008 (2:41 pm)

    What a tragedy that we live in a society with so much plenty, and yet there are those who do not have a roof over their heads.
    I am grateful that I have a home. I ache for those who do not. I wish the tent city much success, and hope that its inhabitants find many more people like Shauna who view them as PEOPLE first, deserving of basic respect.

  • Kristina September 22, 2008 (2:41 pm)

    PS Are those tents leftovers from the 3-Day?

  • Concerned September 22, 2008 (2:44 pm)

    IMO people who stay in these types of ‘camps’ should be held accountable to either have a job, or prove that they are looking — much like when you are on unemployment and you keep a log of the jobs you are applying for.

    I am a fan of helping out the less fortunate but within reason. I live just off Highland Park way at the top of Othello Street and drive down that way everyday. The minute that I see beer cans and trash all over the place I will speak out!

    I am not against this, but will be keeping a close eye.

    Honestly, I would rather have a jail than a tent city. Maybe if there is a jail there, people will not go 50 mph up HPW.

  • acemotel September 22, 2008 (3:25 pm)

    Kristina, totally agree with you and Shauna. Doesn’t anyone else see the absolute disgrace, in our society, of the need for homeless shelters?

    This is a feature that’s found in third-world countries, undeveloped countries: massive numbers of homeless people wandering the streets. It’s not found in any other civilized country in the world.

    The United States should be ashamed.

  • amused September 22, 2008 (3:54 pm)

    It’s a good thing they are on a bus line, so they can get up and go to their jobs. Not!

  • Alcina September 22, 2008 (4:22 pm)

    Here’s your answer about where the pink tents came from on Tim Harris’ blog (he’s the Editor of Real Change)
    “The 150 tents that were unwittingly donated to Real Change last week by the Girl Scouts of America look a lot like salvation to the hundreds of homeless who have been chased pillar to post in this town since the City began hounding homeless campers more than year ago. Apparently, the use of these tents for their annual Jamboree is a one time deal. Normally, we would have passed these on one at a time to those who have had their survival gear stolen by the city. Due to a happy accident of timing, however, we were able to expedite the process by passing them onto the Nickelsville organizing committee.”

  • worms Roxanne, I'm afraid of worms. September 22, 2008 (4:28 pm)

    How does somebody get a job when they have no mailing address and phone?

    Many of the homeless are mentally ill and/or have addictions. It is amazing how in this country mental illness is not viewed as a “real” medical condition and addiction is viewed as a personal weakness.

    In other cultures these issues are actually treated and the treatments are viewed as benefiting the society as a whole.

    Should we expect the average self important american comsumaholic to have this world view? NOT!

  • Pete September 22, 2008 (4:53 pm)

    When folks say not here in my backyard I always wonder then where? We continue to see the fall out from our economic woes and failed policies of our leaders. At some point we need to get serious aobut addressing the real causes of this problem. We need to invest in mental health facilties. We need to invest in drug treatment programs. We need to invest the time, effort and energy in education the general publci about these issues.


    Go by the White Center or West Seattle food bank and see the increasing number of folks that are going there for groceries just to meet basic needs of the day. Some of these good folks are already working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet. Someone that makes minimum wage and has any size family at all is struggling mightily these days.


    We have to take a deep breath and relax a bit so that we can see the big picture and try to understand that not eveyone that you will see in the pink tents wants to be there. They all did not choose to be homeless today. They did not choose to be unemployed today. They did not choose be bi-polar. They did not choose to not be able to afofrd to buy their medication today. We must remember that we need to take the time and understand the whole story not just what we want to beleive the story is.


    So once again if not here then where?

  • Dorsol Plants September 22, 2008 (4:59 pm)

    Hey Everyone,

    I just got back from touring Nickelsville, and spoke to the organizers down there regarding their goals and safety plan. They have agreed to send a representative to tonight’s HPAC Meeting to discuss this issue and hear from the community.

    Its tonight at 7:00 pm at the Highland Park Improvement Club around 11th and SW Holden.

    Anyone interested is welcome!

  • Shauna September 22, 2008 (5:03 pm)

    One thing that was really interesting for me to see is that the tent city group on Mercer Island has a security detail. 24 hours a day they have two folks (from tent city) who are making sure the camp is safe- they are walking the perimeter. They take 2-3 hour shifts. If folks miss their shifts, they are kicked out of tent city. I felt safe there when I volunteered last Friday…Also, no alchohol or drugs are permitted at the current tent city.

    You need to meet these folks before you pass judgement. Not only do they not have a permanent home, but there is a lot of hatred that is thrown in their direction, mainly from folks who are ignorant.

    Quick story– one of the folks I met was a 20 year old who dropped out of college and was kicked out of his house by his parents. Good looking guy, too. He was homeless for a while until he was finally able to get a sleeping bag and tent @ tent city. Not being able to find a lot of options, he volunteered to serve in the Marines and actually shipped out today. He told me he wanted to return to Seattle somebody to help the homeless.

    When I was there volunteering, I heard the average stay in tent city is approx. six to ten weeks; many of these folks are trying to get themselves to a better situation.

  • Babs September 22, 2008 (5:31 pm)

    Maybe some of the haters out there might think different when they slap down that 300 + bucks for that tready purse at Nordies. Naw, that would take compassion and less self ego.
    Come on people, stop hating. Be grateful for what you have. Help others. Stop judging. Accept.

  • Chris September 22, 2008 (6:02 pm)

    How convenient…fence them in and begin the jail immediately.

  • J September 22, 2008 (7:53 pm)

    How many business owners do we have on this blog? When you are hiring, do you question why you cannot get an address from someone? If they told you they were homeless, what would your first instinct be? Would you thank them for their time and send them on their way? Or, would you offer them a job they may be qualified for?

    It is so easy to tell people to go out and get a job, but there is a lot of people who would not hire a homeless person because of the attitude that they are a “lazy, crazy drunk”. Kind of a catch 22 for those homeless people that are such an eye sore for you and your precious children.

    By the way, seeing a homeless person is not detrimental to a child’s development, in fact, it is a great teaching opportunity. Thinking that they are somehow going to harm our children means that you have stereo typed people in need as somehow dangerous.

    Wake up people. Homelessness is all of our problem, not someone else. Our city has been working on a homelessness reduction plan for two years and the problem has only gotten worse. With the heartless attitudes I am reading on this blog, I am honestly not surprised.

  • Kristina September 22, 2008 (8:52 pm)

    I am surprised at the comments about the homeless here. The lack of compassion is astounding to me, and frustrating, and confusing. Why NOT offer compassion? Why assume the worst? Why assume that the people living there WANT to be homeless, or aren’t willing to work, or don’t have contributions to society? I’m certain that there are alcoholics are people with mental issues there, too….but c’mon, I know rich folks with alcoholism or bipolar disorder, too. The main difference between “us” and “them” is money. Are we so quick to lose our compassion for a few dollars difference?
    I have had some small opportunities to work with the homeless. I was HUMBLED by the experience. I met a family of hard working people that I would be proud to call friends, that I would be delighted to see at my dinner table. They were on hard times, and they were working HARD to get out of their situation. Yes, they were getting up and riding the bus to work.
    I suggest Barbara Eherenreich’s “Nickled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America.” It’s an eye opening look at minimum wage workers in America.
    Next time you drive through the take-out window, ask yourself if the person serving you deserves a home.
    Food for thought. Compassion, please!

  • k September 22, 2008 (8:57 pm)

    Please– don’t anyone think that this tent city isn’t near homes!
    You can see my neighbor’s house in the aerial photo (off of Othello).
    I am not opposed to a real tent city– like the ones on MI and the ones that have been in Kirkland, etc. We have had various homeless people roaming through the green belt and into our neighborhood before. Often ending in repeated break-ins.

    If there isn’t an organized structure to the encampment then it will heavily impact my neighborhood.

  • Proud Puget Ridge Resident September 22, 2008 (9:20 pm)

    I completely agree with K’s comments about this facility “…will heavily impact my neighborhood”. At least with a jail we’d know that the threatening element (criminals) would be carefully supervised.

    If this homeless encampment is to be crammed down our neighborhood let’s at least make EVERY effort to keep our kids safe. I wonder if there could somehow be a reqirement that each ‘resident’ of this facility show a recent copy of a personal background check. I’ve heard those checks can be done for under $50/person. Think about it.

  • worms Roxanne, I'm afraid of worms. September 23, 2008 (7:17 am)

    Personal background check? Show me your papers now! Wow. Oh, i am thinking about it…

    So you want to force each homeless person to spend $50 to prove they aren’t a threat? Why stop at homeless? let’s make everybody have their “non-threat papers” available at all times. It will protect the kids… Do it for the children…

  • Proud Puget Ridge Resident September 23, 2008 (8:01 am)

    Roxanne, I’d bet do not have children within walking distance of this homeless encampment!

    If this facility is thrust upon us, as is evidently the case, then we’d have terrific bargaining leverage with the city. At a minimum, we could likely convince the City of Seattle to check for Registered Sex Offender status on each ‘resident’ (at the moment of entry).

    Do you suppose it is too much to ask that the camp’s organizers keep an accurate list of folks who use the facility??

  • Concerned September 23, 2008 (8:17 am)

    The post referring to tent city and the patrols, rules etc. is the way it should be.

    “the tent city group on Mercer Island has a security detail. 24 hours a day they have two folks (from tent city) who are making sure the camp is safe- they are walking the perimeter. They take 2-3 hour shifts. If folks miss their shifts, they are kicked out of tent city.”

    This is can also assist in building their confidence that they can commit to a job and do it well.

    As I said, I am not opposed to the camp. I have simply seen what they can lead to if they are not properly ran and I dont want to look at that everyday, sorry.

    Babs, I have never purchased a purse for 300$.

    Worms, it is possible to get a job without an address or phone and it has just as much to do with the person doing the hiring as it does the homeless person.

    I hope that they get to stay and that the people operating the camp run it in a safe and clean manner.

  • katydid September 23, 2008 (10:30 am)

    I applaud Anitra Freeman and the other people keeping the issue of homelessness before the public. I get so frustrated with both the City of Seattle and adjacent governmental entities who don’t seem to be doing much to alleviate this problem. And I was absolutely infuriated with the placement of a Sea. Times article today touting the City’s plan to put some low income housing in Magnolia right next to the story on tent city. Talk about obfuscation of the issue.

    Does anyone remember the uproar of the Lora Lake apartments near Seatac airport last year? The reason for tearing them down, as I understood it, was that the City of Burien wanted to use the land for commercial development. Today, part of the complex is torn down, but the rest is still standing. What a terrible waste. With the utilities turned back on, many if not all of the pink tent city residents could be accommodated.

    I think, our governmental entities need to get really, really serious about instituting a workable plan for housing our homeless.

    Tent cities are one of the only ways the homeless have of keeping their cause before us.

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