‘Robust’ discussion needed re: encampments, say councilmembers

It’s time for city leaders to have a “robust discussion” on city policy regarding homeless encampments, City Councilmembers agreed at a committee meeting that just concluded. As first revealed by WSB Forums member JoB in this post last night, the Planning and Land Use Committee was going to consider an amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan that would have suggested the city supports them being hosted by religious institutions, only. That drew opposition in public comment at the start of the committee meeting, and when the item finally came up for discussion, its sponsor, Councilmember Tim Burgess, ultimately withdrew it, after he and other members agreed it’s time for that “robust discussion.” They said Mayor McGinn plans to propose legislation this spring (Burgess said he believes the proposal will open the door for “many more encampments”) that might provide the springboard for that discussion.

This issue is of particular note in West Seattle because the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” has been in a sort of limbo on city-owned land here for almost a year; the mayor told WSB after the encampment’s arrival that he would not seek to have it evicted, but the city has not granted requests to allow the encampment to connect to utilities, so it continues to operate with porta-potties and without running water.

ADDED 3:10 PM: We’ve obtained from the mayor’s office a copy of his e-mail cited by councilmembers at this morning’s meeting, expressing concern about Burgess’s amendment and saying he will be proposing city legislation soon. Read it here.

14 Replies to "'Robust' discussion needed re: encampments, say councilmembers"

  • Aman March 28, 2012 (1:10 pm)

    Sounds like a ‘Trial-Balloon’ that did NOT fly!

    “Council-member Tim Burgess, ultimately withdrew it, after he and other members agreed it’s time for that “robust discussion.”

  • charla March 28, 2012 (2:07 pm)

    Thanks to job for alerting us to this surprise and to tr for this info. This is truly important as news and getting it out so quickly made a huge difference. My comment was too short???? So let me add I look forward to the robust discussion that I’m sure will take place in the forums.

  • Aman March 28, 2012 (4:18 pm)

    This mornings City Council Meeting (video recording) link below. Public comments cover first 35 minutes. Excellent job done by representatives of Nickelsville & other like-minded organizations.


  • Snow Wimp March 28, 2012 (6:03 pm)

    Yo, Nickelsville.

    What the heck have you done for our city, lately? Besides begging for donations.

    We all know you don’t pay property taxes. Ever helped to clean up anything? Remove garbage?

    All I hear is Nickelsville needs this. Nickelsville needs that. I have yet to hear about a Nickelsville work party doing a darn thing for Seattle. Beg. Beg. Beg.

    Don’t feel bad, though. I don’t do a darn thing either, other than paying property taxes for Seattle services and schools. Which I happily pay. Seems to me, all I hear from Nickelsville is: We need this and we need that.

    Disappointing, to me. Really. Though, I guess it is “a feel good” for some in West Seattle.

  • Cclarue March 28, 2012 (7:10 pm)

    Yo snow wimp they do puck up trash every sunday all around nv ob w marg way n surrounding streets. It is not the residents asking for donations either its the caring citizens in w sea and burien asking for things for the residents. Thank you from one of those people.

  • Mike March 28, 2012 (7:14 pm)

    The man that spoke up about sewage and garbage had valid points and I’d bet that speaks louder to our local government than living conditions. Stick to thing that deal with budgets and financial burden, you’ll get better response. I don’t agree with how either side has been handling the encampments. I’ve yet to hear or read how or what anyone is doing to get employment that can help get people out of being homeless. What are the reasons for staying in Seattle too?

  • G March 28, 2012 (7:32 pm)

    “Robust” discussion for what?

    How we can feel good about ourselves by giving them more free stuff – or how we can actually help these folks out by getting them jobs and expecting them to contribute to society?

    I’m guessing the former.

  • JoB March 28, 2012 (9:10 pm)

    Snow wimp..
    if you drive down Marginal Way on Sunday mornings,..
    those people you see in safety vests out picking up trash by the side of the road…
    they are Nickelsville residents…

    some of whom were local taxpayers prior to losing their jobs and their homes and landing in Nickelsville…


    i too have been more than skeptical…

    but.. as it turns out..
    a good deal of that robust conversation
    will be about how to turn warehousing homeless people
    into providing the type of transitional housing that returns those who are able bodied to gainful employment
    and those who aren’t to affordable housing and support services.

    ok.. partly because that gets them off the streets and out of the public eye
    but also because it’s cost effective for the city and it’s the right thing to do

  • miws March 28, 2012 (11:11 pm)

    Snow wimp, as JoB points out, Nickelsville residents pick up trash in the surrounding neighborhood on a regular basis.


    As far as begging for things; if you mean individual residents “flying a sign”, they are not allowed to do that within a mile of Camp. It’s a barrable offense, as is any resident approaching a Donor and asking for something they personally need.


    What the Camp does, is put out a “needs” list. That is not begging. Donors and potential Donors, want to know what the Camp needs and list is something they can take with them as a reference, and possibly share with other potential donors..


    Finally, what Nickelsville does is provide a relatively safe, structured environment, with rules and responsibilities, which encourages residents to become positive members of the overall community, rather than living in a haphazardly put together encampment, such as the Jungle, which is rampant with crime and drug and alcohol use, not only in Camp, but likely in the surrounding neighborhood as well.


    No, they don’t pay property taxes on that site, but many have for years, if not decades, before becoming homeless. Many are working at getting back on their feet, so that they will be back in permanent housing some day, and once again paying property taxes through their mortgage payment or rent.



  • Aman March 28, 2012 (11:42 pm)

    “G” , Snow Wimp, Et al:
    THANK YOU! You raise some interesting points. Tonight, as most nights, approx. 3,500+ people will sleep outside in metro Seattle. I’m sure most who do liked it less than you. How would you recommend we resolve this issue?

  • Kayleigh March 29, 2012 (6:35 am)

    Er, Snow Wimp…as I sit in my warm, dry home drinking hot coffee and enjoying a bagel, I, too was wondering what the cold, wet, trying-to-survive people without a home or hot shower or soft mattress or hot breakfast could do FOR ME. Maybe Nickellsville folks could scrub my bathroom, because after all, I pay property taxes, which makes me a special snowflake who will never need help from others, ever.
    Turning the sarcasm off, transitional housing programs and affordable housing are desperately needed in Seattle. Nickellsville should never be considering anything resembling a solution, IMHO.

  • miws March 29, 2012 (7:05 am)

    I heart you Aman! (And of course Cc and JoB too!)


    G’s comment must have been in the moderation queue when I post last night, (Cc’s too), otherwise I would have included G in my rebuttal.



  • JoB March 29, 2012 (10:27 am)

    searching for something else i found an article that adds useful context


  • carlton March 29, 2012 (12:49 pm)

    does having a roof over your head make you a better person than those who don’t have a roof over their heads?

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