(Photo by Kevin McClintic, taken Monday evening)
Five days have now passed since the homeless encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned to the eastern West Seattle site where it began almost three years ago, at West Marginal Way SW/Highland Park Way (as reported here Friday afternoon). Its first stay there in 2008 ended with city leaders sending in Seattle Police to evict the campers, but that’s not going to happen this time, according to Mayor McGinn‘s office. We had asked his spokesperson Aaron Pickus yesterday about whether the mayor would seek to remove the camp as his predecessor had done, and the answer came back a little while ago: No. Pickus’s reply in its entirety:
We will not seek their eviction. By way of context, this site was originally a candidate for a new City Jail. We recently made a long-term agreement with King County that ensures we don’t have a to build a jail, though.
Last year, we proposed a plan for a safe, city-sanctioned place for an encampment to the City Council. While the Council has decided to not act on that plan, they have committed to weigh in on an alternative location by July. And we remain open to their ideas.
The camp had been at a former fire station in Lake City prior to its somewhat-surprise move last Friday. We’re checking with Nickelsville’s media liaison for their reaction; the newest statement on their website gives no indication that they had heard this previously, as it includes the entreaty: “Please let us stay. Let us create a community Seattle can be proud of. Attached is our plan for our home. All we ask from City Government is this land, and access to nearby utilities. We respectfully ask you and your able Deputy to negotiate with us.”
10:15 PM UPDATE: Through Nickelsville’s media liaison, their official reaction to the mayor’s decision to “not seek their eviction”:
It’s a relief that we can stay. Mayor McGinn’s administration recognizes the value of an organization like Nickelsville. It’s also particularly gratifying that, after 16 moves we can stay put for awhile and people can feel some security. And now we can have the dream of Nickelsville come to reality: a safe, organized eco-village that will ultimately shelter up to a thousand people.