Trouble at ‘Nickelsville’ encampment: Central Committee says it’s ‘on the brink,’ ‘overrun,’ alleges police inaction

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

As the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” nears the second anniversary of its unauthorized yet unchallenged return to the southeastern West Seattle site where it began, its Central Committee says the camp is “overrun” with troublemakers.

This follows a bizarre situation that unfolded at the West Marginal Way/Highland Park Way Southwest site this weekend.

It was first detailed in the WSB Forums, where some members have long been encampment volunteers/donors (and one is a former resident), and then in an open letter signed by Nickelsville’s “Central Committee.”

The Forums post began with a report that the porta-potties at the encampment – their only toilet facilities, since the city has refused requests to hook up water or other utilities – had been removed on Friday, and that the order had come from the camp’s “staff person,” Scott Morrow, over an “internal management issue.”

To check out the situation, we went by Nickelsville Saturday morning and noted the porta-potties back, with the Honey Bucket truck still there; we took this cameraphone photo:

Participants in the Forums discussion who had ties to the camp confirmed the return. We weren’t sure it was a story until we were pointed to this open letter, posted Saturday on the open “official Nickelsville Facebook group” Nickelsville Works and also shared with us by a source who had received it via e-mail:

Yesterday afternoon, per the instruction of We, the Nickelsville Central Committee of 3/20/13, Porta Pottie Service was withdrawn at Nickelsville. IT WILL RETURN THIS AFTERNOON.

The reason for this decision was our inability at Nickelsville in preventing the overrun of our community by meth dealers and barred, violent former campers. Progress was made yesterday, but the situation is still teetering on the brink.

The basis for this problem with barred campers returning and raising havoc is the failure of the Seattle Police Department to treat our community like ANY of the other organized shelters and encampments in Seattle.

(The open letter continues after the jump, along with information we have researched about police/encampment interaction, including a report we have found about one recent specific incident.)

After almost two years at 7116 W Marginal Wy SW, and clear City recognition of our organization, there is no longer any excuse for police inaction. At any other organized encampment or shelter in Seattle the police, per the request of the leadership and/or staff, assist in removing barred individuals from camp.

Nickelsville cannot continue if meth dealers, thieves, and barred violent individuals can flop out in, or roam through, the camp. Police failure to support – and actually thwart – our repeated efforts to keep our home safe has been draining and demoralizing. In a self managed community like Nickelsville, almost everyone has to participate in security, or there IS NO security.

It is a brutal thing to lose porta potties for a day. The estimation of the Nickelsville Central Committee though, was that without this wake up call, the camp would be lost.

We are not out of the woods. Tonight the camp will consider allowing outside volunteers to help with security shifts. Please call SPD Chief Diaz and ask him to treat Nickelsville like Tent City3. …

To try to get some idea of documented police interaction with Nickelsville, we checked the police “incident response” database at for some idea of how many times police have gone to the encampment site since campers returned in May 2011.

Its address is 7116 West Marginal Way; the publicly available city data blocks out the last two digits of addresses, so all we can sort for is 71XX West Marginal, and the database shows 69 calls to that address since mid-May 2011. Five were traffic/accident calls, which we’ll presume were stops on the busy road alongside the encampment, so that leaves 64, about 3 per month, potentially related to the encampment itself – there is no other residence or open business in that block. (The actual number might be higher – the public data from SPD excludes certain types of crime, such as domestic violence.)

The most common types: 26 are listed as disturbances; 11 as assaults; 7 as “suspicious circumstances.”

The most recent report for which a police report with a detailed narrative is publicly available was an assault incident reported on March 17th. It appears to include a corroboration of the Central Committee’s account of police thwarting an “eviction” – but in this case, according to the police report, there was much more to the story: The people who were described as being subject to an “eviction” attempt claimed to police they were being kicked out for calling law enforcement.

The report, heavily redacted (with identifications, even the camp’s name, blacked out, and therefore a little challenging to follow), listed victims who had allegedly been targeted by what the police report described as a “mob” surrounding a tent with “axes, hammers, and crowbars.” Police at one point talked to a woman (“X” here), and the officer wrote in the report:

X told me that she was outside of (the camp) and had been “Barred” from coming inside for 24 hours for unknown reasons, even though all of her belongings were inside the compound.

At some point she had to use the restroom and requested Victim escort her into the compound to use
the Port-A-Potty. When X did this they were confronted by Security Personnel.

X was told she now had to leave the compound permanently for violating their rules and bringing (someone else) back inside. (She) at this point was at her tent when the MOB arrived and began to remove items from her tent and knocking cinder blocks out from underneath the flooring while she was still inside of her tent. That is when (victim)called 911.

(Another) Victim gave the same information as … However, I could see that X was very scared and she was crying a little as she spoke to me. It was my observation that she felt she had no recourse but to leave the compound at the order of the Security Council even though I explained
to her that (the camp site) is City Property and they have no right to “remove or Evict” anyone from public property. I then spoke to Suspect, the “Head of Security,” who told me that (four names redacted) had broken the rules and were being “Evicted” from (site). When I asked him under what authority, he said the authority of the Security Council. When I asked him why a MOB surrounded their tents with ax’s, hammers and crowbars, he told me it was because there were trying to take back the wood pallets and the cinder blocks that belonged to (redacted).

When I told him they had no authority to remove people from public property he tried to explain to me that someone in SPD told him it was ok. I explained to him that was completely incorrect. I also asked him what rules (redacted) had violated. He attempted to explain to me how they do not like “Residents” calling the police without first speaking to the Security Council. He told me they like to handle things “In house” and not draw attention to themselves.

The report also includes allegations of harassment and extortion in separate, earlier incidents. It does not indicate any arrests were made, but ends with the officer writing that he asked the female victim if she wanted him to find her a women’s shelter, and she said she wanted to stay because of someone she did not want to be away from, so she was provided a pamphlet of domestic-violence information and also advised on how to petition for a protection order.

We will be checking tomorrow with SPD regarding the camp Central Committee’s claim, and with other city officials regarding the encampment situation in general, including the City Attorney’s Office, to which this report indicates at least part of this case was referred. The nearest community council, Highland Park Action Committee, has long been monitoring and discussing the encampment, and heard at a recent meeting from Food Lifeline, which has been pursuing purchase of the property that holds the camp, and wrote on its website a week ago that city councilmembers needed to be lobbied to support the proposal.

82 Replies to "Trouble at 'Nickelsville' encampment: Central Committee says it's 'on the brink,' 'overrun,' alleges police inaction"

  • JoB March 24, 2013 (8:45 pm)

    the police report is an accurate assessment of the process called “show of force” although i understand it is supposed to be employed without any kind of weapon.

  • JanS March 24, 2013 (8:50 pm)

    Tracy, thank you for your work on this.

  • Cat Five March 24, 2013 (8:56 pm)

    Police inaction? Please. The police are not a free, unlimited resource. They are paid for with taxpayer money. If you choose not to pay taxes in favor of checking out of society and camping out in a dirt lot you have no right to complain.

  • Concerned West Seattle Person March 24, 2013 (8:59 pm)

    Has anyone else noticed the increase of very scary, rough kids hanging around West Seattle??? We were at Baskin Robbins today around 3:00 and saw a group of 7 – 10 homeless youths that were very intimating. We have seen 2 or 3 of them hanging around the 7/11 and Chevron, with their pit bull for quite awhile, but this was a much bigger crowd. We were commenting they may be coming from the homeless encampment, then I see this article tonight.

    Growth of this magnitude, unchecked, is not a good thing for our community, especially if you have kids.

    I am sure many will disagree with me, but I also bet many have seen this group, and have noticed the growing numbers, and are just as concerned as we are.

    • WSB March 24, 2013 (9:05 pm)

      CWSP, what led you to conclude the youths were homeless?

  • Concerned West Seattle Person March 24, 2013 (9:10 pm)

    You obviously have not seen them. They are mostly in the admiral district. They have sleeping bags, I am guessing around 18-20 YO, wear the same clothes. are bumming money, and are very dirty. I was tolerant with a few, but today when we saw 7-10, and their behavior was intimating, not a good trend.

  • JoB March 24, 2013 (9:18 pm)


    it is unlikely the kids came from the camp as the average age of the younger campers is still in the late 20 range…

    i have seen more large groups of unruly youths hanging on the streetcorners near westwood lately too..

    but i think it probably has more to do with the weather and the proximity to the high school and the new buss access across the street than anything else…

  • JoB March 24, 2013 (9:20 pm)

    Concerned West Seattle Person..

    there are more homeless people everywhere right now and not nearly enough shelter beds to house them all.

  • JanS March 24, 2013 (9:20 pm)

    homeless youth, huh. Well, as far as I know the campers at Nickelsville are adults, except for maybe one teenager who is there with a parent.

    It’s the weekend, kids hang out, sometimes where we don’t want them to. It does not necessarily mean they’re homeless.

  • coffee March 24, 2013 (9:23 pm)

    CatFive, if the residents of the camp are working and buying things, they are paying taxes. What makes you think that they are not entitled to police services? I think your comment is hurtful to people who are trying to get back on their feet. We do know that one of the regular blog poster was a resident of this camp and his story was published on the blog….

  • JanS March 24, 2013 (9:30 pm)

    concerned citizen. I live 1/2 block from Baskin Robbins. I see kids all the time. They walk up and down the alley behind my building. They go to school in my neighborhood. They frequent Safeway, Jack in the Box. Yes, I’m well aware of the area.

  • Jiggers March 24, 2013 (9:31 pm)

    Stop the paranoia regarding homeless kids. Anyways, if Nickelsville had that many visits by police as reported here, it is just common sense how out of control Nickelsville has become. I am sure the police just don’t randomly show up waving their batons around. Somebody felt threatened and made the call for a good reason. It most likely that Nickelsville has become a hostile enviornment for safe haven. If there is intimidaiton among campers, they should be thrown out for creating unstability. If they can’t clean up the problems, it should be shut down ASAP!

  • Concerned West Seattle Person March 24, 2013 (9:40 pm)

    These kids are hanging out 7 days a week, 12 + hours a day. No school, no work.

    Lets not forget about the point of this article, that Nickelsville is turning into a camp for Meth labs and rough people, not my words, these are the words from the “Kickelsville Central Committee”.

  • JoB March 24, 2013 (9:45 pm)

    Nickelodeans do have police services.
    When the police were called by residents, they showed up the same way they would for any of us…
    but.. as with any of us.. there are limits to what they can and can’t do.
    if you legally reside in a house or own or rent the car you are driving, the police can assist you in removing someone who refuses to leave…

    but if you are occupying a park bench and someone sits down next to you, the police will not require the person sitting next to you to move along unless they are doing something that will cause injury.
    From what i am told by both the police and campers at Nickelsville, the police do tell everyone who calls them because they feel threatened after they refused to move out of Nickelsville when barred that although they can’t legally be evicted, they can be denied use of camp owned facilities.. like porta-potties and the kitchens.. and they do have to return any camp property they are using.. like their tent if it does not belong to them…
    patience and denial of services forces evictions as long s the camp is united in enforcing camp rules

  • NWMama March 24, 2013 (9:48 pm)

    CWSP- I know who you are talking about and totally agree- they aren’t up to anything good. I wonder if this is the group found camping in the ravine under the admiral bridge?

  • Joel March 24, 2013 (9:49 pm)

    is this property zoned for permanent residential camping? if a resident turned their property into a campground with 2000 pallets thrown all over, trash everywhere and misc tents and now tuff shed type sheds throughout I wonder how long until the fines from the city start coming.

    i’d rather have the meth heads at tent city then living in the hillsides along the greenbelt.

    last week seattle mayor was in west seattle. did he spend anytime touring the debris and situation at tent city? i saw he was in admiral and all the nice fancy areas. was that just for show and PR and he avoided the mess he refuses to address?

    what’s the zoning on this property?

    • WSB March 24, 2013 (10:00 pm)

      No, his visits were specifically to tour with the Admiral Neighborhood Association and to stop at the Southwest Pool for a celebration of their new swimming programs for women. I don’t know if he has ever been to the encampment; a City Council committee convened there about two months after the camp’s return –
      When they returned in May 2011, we were the first to ask whether he was going to do what his predecessor did and evict them. “We will not seek their eviction” was the response from his office.
      There is no zoning for encampments, part of what the squabble is about. Any zoning or utility hookup or whatever would be construed as endorsing or recognizing the camp, so it’s been kept in a sort of limbo. The zoning is industrial.

  • miws March 24, 2013 (10:02 pm)

    JoB is correct on how Show of Force is supposed to work; Head of Security will verbally call out a request, and any nearby Campers that are able and willing, will form a human wall, and try to prevent the barred Camper from re-entering Camp, without physical contact.


    Thanks, Tracy for this report, and thanks to all that called/e-mailed Scott Morrow to urge him to call for the return of the port-a-potties.



  • miws March 24, 2013 (10:05 pm)

    last week seattle mayor was in west seattle. did he spend anytime touring the debris and situation at tent city?


    I did hear of at least one occasion last year, that the Mayor dropped in unannounced, to tour the Camp.



  • look at a map March 24, 2013 (10:09 pm)

    Baskin Robbins is 7 miles from Nickelsville, so I doubt that the Nickelsville encampment is a contributing factor to youth (homeless or not) hanging out in the Admiral area.
    I think JoB has summed it up nicely. The police respond and do their work, but their work has never been to enforce some sort of ownership privilege in a case like this. You have to be an authorized property user to accuse someone else of trespassing.

  • look at a map March 24, 2013 (10:12 pm)

    Other organized encampments and shelters are authorized property users, and so have the authority to declare that someone is trespassing and have police support in enforcing that. This encampment has never had any legal authorization. It’s not their land; they cant declare that someone else has no right to be there.

  • Joel March 24, 2013 (10:14 pm)

    so if it’s zoned for industrial can a zoning violation be filed against the city for not following zoning of property?

    can the city be fined for the debris on the property?

    is there code for what a fence can be made of? ever seen a pallet fence before?

  • Nw March 24, 2013 (11:01 pm)

    This is why organized crime groups come in handy when the police won’t do the work for you “hire out”

  • JanS March 25, 2013 (1:16 am)

    Concerned citizen. I drive by that Baskin Robbins every day. I come down the alley between them and the gas station, and I have never seen a group like that there., just cars jockeying to get into and out of Starbucks parking lot.

    Also…it’s not “meth LABS”…it’s meth dealers…if the meth was being manufactured there, it would be highly dangerous as it’s volatile, and I’m sure the SPD would definitely do something about that. Geez…the camp isn’t even anywhere near the Admiral District.

  • Another Realist March 25, 2013 (6:54 am)

    I think the amount of tolerance we have for these people is disgusting. I’m sorry for the dissenting opinion, but meth heads swinging crowbars at each other should be in prison. We all know the Junction bums and their dog; there is not a damn thing wrong with their mental health…there is something wrong with us for allowing them to leverage guilt over folks to give them money. Again, I’m sorry, but we are just way too tolerant.

  • Kate March 25, 2013 (7:15 am)

    I have also seen the group of homeless youth. They have backpacks, sleeping bags and are very dirty. I would bet they’re sleeping under the overpass.

  • linda March 25, 2013 (7:30 am)

    If you see kids on the and say hello…dont be intimated. Show them they are worthy of your kindness..regardless of their unfortunate circumstances.

  • Come on March 25, 2013 (7:40 am)

    I’m sorry but you cant ask the police to “do their job” and then ask them to ignore the fact that you are committing a crime by trespassing on city land. It has been two years. It’s time for the camp to move on. West Seattle and more specifically boulevard park have done their service. It is time for other communities in Seattle to step up. If meth and security are a problem then it’s time for the city to close it down.

  • Come on March 25, 2013 (7:44 am)

    Look at a map,

    You are 100 percent correct. Kind of hard to tell police someone shouldn’t be there when you have no right to be there either.

  • Scooterista March 25, 2013 (7:53 am)

    So, I’ll just point out that the homeless youth are on private property much of the time. If a coalition of residents wanted to make it uncomfortable for them to be hanging out in their neighborhood, they could talk to the business owners and get permission to report the loitering to the police on behalf of the businesses whenever it is witnessed on those properties. Neighbors will need to invest some personal time and effort, but there are ways to assert collectively to make neighborhoods safer.

  • miws March 25, 2013 (8:05 am)

    …there is not a damn thing wrong with their mental health…

    Another Realist, could you please post your credentials, and the results of the tests that you have performed on these folks, to come to that determination?



  • Neighbor March 25, 2013 (8:40 am)

    The kids are sleeping in the ravine, under the bridge. They are rummaging through the neighborhoods around the ravine at night.
    It’s uncomfortable for both residents and those camping out. We really need to find some solutions. The mayor should have been taken there.

    • WSB March 25, 2013 (8:45 am)

      Has anyone brought this up at the Admiral Neighborhood Association’s meetings, or to ANA some other way? Did anyone try to bring it up on Saturday? We have video from each of his stops and it wasn’t in the open dialogue (if anyone got his ear while strolling along inbetween the stops, we wouldn’t have that). Anyway, ANA’s next meeting is April 9th – contact info is on this page of their website –

  • JoB March 25, 2013 (8:44 am)

    meth labs? meth heads swinging crowbars at one another? where did these ideas come from?

    the increased police presence at Nickelsville comes mainly from citizens who happen to be homeless asking for assistance from the police for the same reasons citizens who live in houses call.

    the neighbor is being a pain, they feel threatened by someone, they have a domestic dispute.

    yes, they are called to Nickelsville a little more often than some neighborhoods because you have a lot of people occupying a very small area in very poor living conditions.

    If there wasn’t such a high prevalence of medicated and unmedicated mental illness in this population, sleep deprivation alone would cause some very short tempers.
    if crowbars had been swung at people, the police record would likely have included arrests for assault.

    if meth labs were discovered there would also have been arrests.

    have you ever been near a meth lab? There is no way to conceal the evidence of one in a tent or a tool shed. They smell is unmistakable. Arrests would have been immediate and the entire camp closed immediately for associated health risks.
    I will agree with anyone who says that we shouldn’t have people living in a drainage pond at the base of our hill, but we do.

    At least these homeless people are living somewhere where they have access to police services and where local volunteers can help connect residents who want them with social services that can help eventually move into housing.

    The same can’t be said for the homeless living in our greenbelts or literally on our streets.
    This article could inspire some really interesting conversation about how we manage our increasing homeless population and what tools we might be able to give them to help self manage themselves.
    Yes, there are problems at Nickelsville.

    But would you rather see them solved within Nickelsville helping to create a workable template for shelter that could include legal tent cities?

    or would you rather we dump them back to the street and walk around them as they fill our greenbelts looking for a place to live and gather on our streets looking for the kinds of services that are delivered to Nickelsville by volunteers?
    Not in my neighborhood doesn’t work very well when there are too many and no place for them to go.

    it’s time we stopped placing blame and started looking for solutions.

  • McGruff March 25, 2013 (8:49 am)

    I think the solution regarding the Admiral Junction ‘campers’ is to start aggressively enforcing existing loitering laws. Tolerance = enabling.

  • ann@wcfb March 25, 2013 (8:53 am)

    Concerned West Seattle Citizen: I have seen the group you refer to – they have been in this neighborhood close to 3 years now. They come and go, yes they have the dog, they charge their phones at the outside outlet at the Met and yes they intimidate. The group composition changes from time to time and I’ve seen them come out of the ravine.

  • DBM March 25, 2013 (8:58 am)

    Look under the bridge. I walk over it all the time. They park their bikes on the SE end of it.

    • WSB March 25, 2013 (9:11 am)

      To the discussion of the (potential) weapons mentioned in the incident at the end of our story – I didn’t cut and paste the entire report; with the many redactions, as I wrote, it’s tough to follow in places. But this is how it begins (first-person by the officer who wrote the report):

      At about 1222 hrs I was dispatched to 71(redacted) West Marginal Way SW (AKA [redacted]) to investigate a report of a disturbance where 12-13 people that were armed with “Ax’s, hammers and crowbars” were threatening to dismantle the callers tent. Upon arrival I could see people scurrying about and running ahead of me. I then saw those same persons whispering to other occupants of while looking at me and watched as several people began putting items in different tents. Some of those items included tools such as hammers and Ax’s and I took this as they were warning each other of the arrival of SPD. At one point a male walked towards me with “Splitting Maul” that had a three foot yellow plastic handle and I had to order him to halt. He complied and explained to me that he was just putting his Ax away. I was then barraged with people coming up to me and trying to explain what was happening. As each person would try to talk to me, someone else would cut them off and tell them to walk away, essentially silencing them. I believed they were doing this in an attempt to delay my investigation so they could put their weapons away and I could not identify the participants. After this happened about three times, I demanded everyone walk away from me and I began to conduct my interviews because by now, all of the weapons had been put away.

      There is no indication anyone was hurt, at least that day (March 17th) – the archived SFD 911 log, which would show any call for medics, does not have any call logged for the camp address. The report indicates complaint was made of possible assaults (including sexual) at other times.

  • DW March 25, 2013 (9:33 am)

    @Another Realist –

    Totally agree about the junction homeless. Very disturbing having them there all the time. Also very concerning is that there seems to be a homeless person sleeping in front of the former super supplements building. His/Her stuff is left there all day and no one does anything about it. Construction can’t start soon enough!

  • wetone March 25, 2013 (10:01 am)

    The more this city gives the more they will come. Whats that saying Give a person a fish they will have a meal, Teaching them to fish they will eat forever. All this city does is give give give and no teaching. These people know they can come to Seattle and live their lifestyle with little or no impact on them, but the responsible people of seattle that live a productive life end up paying in many ways for them. Increased taxes to deal with areas like Nickelsville the hill side near it, along I-5, and many more camps, along with the garbage, drugs,crime ,panhandling. These people should be required to work in someway whether it’s picking up garbage along roads,parks cleaning graffitti up. If they don’t want to work shut these areas down and boot them out of here. Must be bad down at Nickelsville, but what did people expect. Anybody with common sense knew how this would turn out.

  • Admiral Res March 25, 2013 (10:02 am)

    I frequeent the Starbucks on Admiral and see those homeless adults (they are not teens, they look early to mid 20’s at least) going through the garbage bin looking for food. They certainly look healthy enough to get a job, or at least live in a homeless shelter where they can get cleaned up. They way they wander about aimlessly, all smiling, laughing and carrying on, seems to me they are content and aren’t looking to better their situation. And I may be wrong, maybe they all secretly wish to have more in the future, or even now, but they sure don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

  • Build It and They Will Come? March 25, 2013 (10:03 am)

    It would be most interesting to obtain honest answers from Nicks Vill campers as to what City, County, State and/or Country they originated from. From my observations and conversations with a lot of transients, the City of Seattle is a good place to land if you are ill, an addict or dare I say…lazy. Can Seattle, and poor neighborhoods financially afford to be the only savior?

  • JanS March 25, 2013 (10:41 am)

    wow…you all are talking like all homeless people are shiftless, drug using bums. While you’re gathering your stats, make sure you get the one about people working, about people who were at NV temporarily and managed finally to find a place they canafford and a job that will pay the rent. I certainly hope that you all never have to use the services for the homeless that are out there. Mike in West Seattle never dreamed that he would have to avail himself of NV, but he’s damned lucky they were there when he needed it.You all need to look inward a bit more, get a little compassion for some of these people, and stop making broad statements about them all. Just as in any community, there are bad, and there are good. What are you actively doing to solve the growing homeless problem out there? Bueller? Bueller?

  • zuesy March 25, 2013 (11:33 am)

    We’re talking about two different groups here – one that needs help and one that needs to go away.

    The homeless ‘teenagers’ you see are the standard variety gutter punks. They are (almost all) voluntarily homeless, and panhandle for booze, drugs, etc. to have a good time before they move on. I’ve known dozens of them, and while some of them are good people, they generally have a sense of entitlement (“You us a living, man!”) that leads to aggressive panhandling. Many cities have anti-homeless laws that stem from the crustys.

    But, their lifestyle is a choice. They do not deserve the same compassion that the truly needy at Nickelsville deserve. So, don’t demonize one group by the other.

  • Kayleigh March 25, 2013 (12:12 pm)

    Let’s be honest: Nickellsville (I hate that name) is a terrible solution (urban camping in the Northwest!) for a very complex and tragic problem. But that is no reflection on the people who find themselves at Nickellsville. With our social safety net shredded almost to nothing, there aren’t a lot of options when someone is at the end of their financial rope.
    There are solutions that work to help solve homelessness. But they cost money. And America has become so reflexively anti-anything-that-costs-me-money that those solutions aren’t forthcoming anytime soon.
    And just so you know, making the lives of the homeless even harder doesn’t work. But I’m sure when people say that, it makes them feel superior in the moment, which is all that seems to matter for some people.

  • james March 25, 2013 (12:18 pm)

    +1 for Zuesy

  • miws March 25, 2013 (12:34 pm)

    It would be most interesting to obtain honest answers from Nicks Vill campers as to what City, County, State and/or Country they originated from.


    Build It and They Will Come? Okay, I’ll start:
    Mike, currently age 54, lived my nearly first eleven years in West Seattle.
    Moved in 1969 to the Kitsap Peninsula, due to Dad remarrying after death of Mom in 1967, and Step-Mom and her family lived on the Peninsula.
    1972: Dad passes away.
    Late 1973: Step-Mom passes away.
    Move to Arbor Heights, (Back in WS!!) as Guardian and family live there.
    1978: Move out on my own, staying in WS through two moves subsequent to that, over the following years.
    Summer 2008: Become ill with pneumonia, and am hospitalized. While there, it’s discovered that I have (fortunately a highly treatable form of) Leukemia, in addition to heart issues. Am hospitalized for 50 some odd days. Will have around 90 days of home recovery. Due to all this, am terminated from job.
    Get on unemployment late in the year, but can’t find a job. (Who wants to hire a 50 year old with bad teeth? Hell, it’s hard enough for a 50 year old with good teeth to find a job, even a 40 year old.) Unemployment eventually runs out, and I can not get the latest extension.
    May 2011: Am thisclose to being served with eviction papers, so scramble over a three day period, to basically clear out apartment, by giving away, and literally throwing away, most of my belongings, including many longtime, or lifetime, sentimental ones. Move to Nickelsville (thanks to a friend from WSB that suggested NV). And, NV is in West Seattle!
    Live at NV for around six and a half months, trying to survive, while also trying to contribute to Camp, attending as many mandatory and non-mandatory in-Camp, and Central Committee meetings as possible, and often doing physical things that push my compromised health to the limit. Also try to participate in advocacy for NV, and Homelessness in general, by attending and speaking at City Council Meetings. Much of this activity was well above and beyond NV rules and expectaions.
    Around Thanskgiving 2011, become ill, and a few days after Thanksgiving, end up in the Hospital with Pneumonia. Am there for nearly a week, and upon release, a friend of mine is kind enough to let me stay at there place for two weeks of recovery, the first several days of that on constant, supplemental oxygen. I am also back on some much needed meds for A-Fib, COPD, Chronic Asthma, etc. Had been off most of the meds for probably a couple years, after insurance and money ran out.
    Go back to NV about a week before Christmas. Within a few days I am relapsing on the pneumonia, and around Christmas Eve, some other friends ask me to “house-sit” while they are out of town for the holidays. About five days later, am continuing to get worse, so go back to Harborview’s ER. Am hospitalized again, for nearly another week. I celebrate bringing in 2012, with a a tasty shot of Albuterol, in an elegant, plastic, nebulizer cup, while many other folks are toasting with Champagne, at midnight.
    After that release, spend the next three months in a combination of Respite Care, two nights at the Downtown DESC [shudder], and in a rental room at a private home that WSB friends generously contributed to pay for, in the hopes of keeping me out of the unhealthy atmosphere of NV (campfire smoke, and chronic lung issues, with a dash or two of cold temps, don’t mix well), at least until Spring. During this time, again with the help of friends, have gotten pre-apps into SHA, and King County Housing, as well as checking out and applying for Transitonal Housing.
    Fortunately, just under two months in the rental room, (which was only intended to be a 2-3 month temporary option, then quite likely back to NV) my spot that I had been dutifully calling in for twice a week, came up at one of the Transitional options.
    Most of the rest of 2012 is spent in that Transitional Housing, in Pioneer Square, (so out of WS for the first time in approaching 40 years). During that time with the help of a Case Manager and other Counsleors and Staff, (had only an introductory meeting with the Recovery Counselor, as I have no addiction issues), I was able to get more housing apps in, as well as apply for Social Security Benefits. Am fortunate enough to be awarded SSDI (Disability) Benes, about three months after applying, Due to the fact of my good, strong, long work history before becoming ill in 2008, my Benes are sufficient for getting by.
    Decmber 2012, I move into an affordable, non-subsized, apartment, back in West Seattle.


    So, in a nutshell. I’m from West Seattle.



  • hmmm... March 25, 2013 (12:37 pm)

    It is pretty sad when things get out of hand. You try to do something good … there seems to always be someone that jumps in and ruins it for everyone else.

  • Build It and They Will Come? March 25, 2013 (12:56 pm)

    JanS – No need for me to look inward and no need for any more lectures. You are welcome to invite Nicks Vill to the City or Park property nearest to you. Maybe Alki Beach, Schmitz Park or Hiawatha Playfield? You might then change your lecture and you might realize that it is okay to question everything, including people who are without homes or transients. As for what I am doing about the problem? I am working a tough job and therefore paying Property and Sales tax into the taxe base that provide the services, free bus passes, housing & healthcare that a percentage of the transient/homeless people take advantage of and make a permanent way of life. And yes, I buy Real Change and donate money/food to the Food Bank, even though I personally know healthy, strong, capable & employable people who sponge off of it.

  • T Rex March 25, 2013 (12:58 pm)


    Your story is sad and I do have compassion for you. But I am curious as to what happened between 1978 and 2008?

    Were you with the same employer who then let you go because your were ill? I am pretty sure they cannot do that without MAJOR legalities in their favor. Have you ever thought of getting an attorney?

    I pray things contine to get better for you.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident March 25, 2013 (1:04 pm)

    This issue will only go away when we get the activists to ACTUALLY desire to do something to help the homeless instead of grandstanding.
    In Seattle there are a group of buildings that will house over 1000 people in SAFE, CLEAN, DRY, WARM rooms. These rooms vary in size and can room up to 8 comfortably. There are bathroon facilities for both sanitary needs and showers.
    Included in this group of buildings is a dining facility that is more than able prepare and provide a place for these people to eat hot meals three/four times a day.
    There is also buildings that will provide water; hot and cold and power.
    The city has had possession of these buildings for over 15 years and have let them fall in to disrepair. But that disrepair can easily be corected by using the funds currently going to these various “homeless camps.”
    But instead of looking for solutions all “Share Wheel” and their ilk are interested in doing is continuing their plight to stroke their self-inflated egos.

  • Build It and They Will Come? March 25, 2013 (1:15 pm)

    JanS – No need for me personally to look inward as I have been doing that for decades, and decades, and no need for any more lectures. You are welcome to invite Nicks Vill to the City Greenbelt or Parks property nearest to you. Maybe Alki Beach, Schmitz Park or Hiawatha Playfield? After a couple years you might then change your lecture material and you might realize that it is okay to question everything, including people who are without homes/transients. As for your question about what I am doing about the problem, well, for starters I am working a very hard and tough job that has me paying ever increasing Property and Sales taxes into the taxe base that provide the services, free bus ride tickets, housing & healthcare that a percentage, note I said p-e-r-c-e-n-t-a-g-e of the transient/homeless people take advantage of and make a permanent way of life. I buy Real Change and donate money/food to the WS Food Bank, even though I personally know healthy, strong, capable & employable people who sponge off of it. I have made attempts at getting some of those capable spongers connected with job opportunities but they always had some excuse and it was to easy to continue their chosen way of life.

  • Build It and They Will Come? March 25, 2013 (1:23 pm)

    Mike/miws: I have read of your personal history on these pages in the past and I have been pleased to see that you made it through your personal hurricane intact and from your most recent accounting are now in a stable and hopefully comfortable housing situation. Good on you.
    However, is it fair to say that your life path is not symbolic of a good percentage of your one time neighbors at Nicks Vill? Did they have the stellar work and employment employment history that you have? Did they contribute as you did to societies betterment as well as their own betterment? Did they have your same history of not abusing drugs and or alcohol? Were most of them, as you are, from West Seattle, or Seattle proper? Can the average or median income citizen of this city continue to pay ever increasing taxes to save every person who shows up at X, Y or Z agency and needs help? When does it end?

  • joel March 25, 2013 (2:52 pm)

    ex westwood and built and they will come….


  • West Seattle Hipster March 25, 2013 (3:05 pm)

    “What are you actively doing to solve the growing homeless problem out there?”

    Sorry, not falling for that line. Some of us struggle pretty damn hard just to survive and keep a roof over our heads, the means to support those who choose not to support themselves is just not there.

  • Come on March 25, 2013 (3:08 pm)


    You are asking the wrong question. The real question is what are our elected representatives doing abou the homeless problem in Seattle? I guess I missed the part where I am responsible for solving the problem. But to answer your question I volunteer and donate to the
    food bank as well as several other charities in the area.

    NV is not a long term viable solution to the homeless problem in
    Seattle. And we currently have a vacuum of leadership at city hall. We have a mayor who would rather spend his time at photo ops and adding bicycle lanes and professional basketball than dealing with difficult issues like these.

    But the simple fact remains that if there is a drug and violence problem at NV then it needs to be closed. I have worked at a homeless shelter before. And the first rule was no drugs. Once there are drugs it leads to so many other problems. And if there is a meth problem, which is one of the worst drugs there is, it is only a matter of time before it gets out of control. Sounds like it has already started. And an encampment that is trespassing on city land doesn’t exactly have the moral high ground.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident March 25, 2013 (3:10 pm)

    Some more information on where these buildings are???
    They are on a MAJOR bus line.
    They are close to NUMEROUS job oppurtunities.
    They are close to medical facilities.
    They are within the city limits.

  • Jim P. March 25, 2013 (4:01 pm)

    So, how do the police know that any given John or Jane Doe who calls from this place has any claim whatsoever to be part of this “Central Committee”?

    Person “X” says person “Y” is barred? Who actually has legal authority when the entire encampment appears to be illegal?

    I also seem to recall frequent complaints from the inmates when the police do show up regularly to the tune that they are being “harassed” etc.

    Can’t have it both ways, kids. You want free rent and running water and showers and toilets and police protection you need to play the game by the same rules as the rest of us. Especially if you expect the rest of us to support you.

  • HP2 March 25, 2013 (4:39 pm)

    +++++1 to Ex-Westwood Resident and Build It and They Will Come?

    Apparently there are quite a few not living in Highland Park or Westwood. Very easy to get on soap box when it doesn’t directly affect you. E-WR’s housing question is a valid one. What about buildings in SoDo? Or did the City finally unload all the property they wasted our money on buying up land for the Monorail fiasco?

    • WSB March 25, 2013 (5:05 pm)

      I will break this out into something separate later but for anyone interested… my first elected-official quote is from Mayor McGinn: “The current situation raises serious concerns about Nickelsville’s ability to protect the health and safety of its residents. The immediate next step is to increase our police presence through the use of directed patrols from the Southwest Precinct.”
      Doesn’t answer all the questions I asked but it’s a start. – TR

  • JoB March 25, 2013 (6:02 pm)

    where are these facilities and how can we advocate to have them rehabilitated for occupation?

  • West Seattle HIPster March 25, 2013 (6:07 pm)

    Wow, great reporting WSB. A quote from McGinn on a situation that appears to be spiraling rapidly out of control down there. I applaud the additional police presence, but lets also get some of that up in the West Seattle neighborhoods.

    If McGinn can shut down or relocate the encampment, it would be the only good move he has made as mayor.

  • JoB March 25, 2013 (6:15 pm)

    the first step to combating homelessness is to stop referring to them as “these” people.

    they are somebody’s mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, childhood friends, ex workmates, ex lovers, etc..

    many of them are better educated than i. They speak multiple languages, write and perform music, paint, sculpt, used to teach, design, build, create….

    somewhere along the line something happened… a personal tragedy of the sort easily recognized or maybe just the accumulation of multiple minor insults, or illness or job loss or… and they found themselves without the financial or personal resources to cope.

    maybe they resorted to drugs or alcohol to dull their pain. maybe they became wandering souls. maybe.. maybe they made some really bad mistakes.. maybe early in life maybe later..

    maybe they didn’t do drugs and didn’t drink and didn’t have outstanding mental health issues and hadn’t been in jail and simply didn’t qualify for a single rehabilitation program because they had no reason to rehabilitate.

    they might even be somebody you would like if you got to know them.

    they are people who are struggling to survive under exceedingly difficult conditions and being blamed for their lack of ability to make their survival look like something you would sympathize with.

    if you want to look for drug problems, you don’t have to go to homeless camps to find them.

  • JoB March 25, 2013 (6:20 pm)

    there is no question that “weapons” of the sort described in the police report have been used in show of force evictions at Nickelsville in the past..

    you will find similar “weapons” on any constructions site …

    at Nickelsville they are used to take down platforms and tents.. not to break bodies.

    i have voiced my opinion at Nickelsville more than once that using any tool when residents are still occupying their tents is very bad policy.

    I hope they change that policy.

  • G March 25, 2013 (6:34 pm)

    Most – I say most – people are where they are in life because of who they are are.

  • cj March 25, 2013 (7:13 pm)

    There are so many reasons the camp should not be there in the first place but beyond that it seems very apparent that Nicklesville is loosing its ability to remain a calm place of respite. The police and unfortunately the invaders have a point, it is public property that is managed and enforced by the city. The Nicklesville group owns nothing beyond their things and has no actual rights to the land. As far as threatening people with weapons, even crude ones and keeping them from their personal things, I really do not understand why an arrest was not made. We would not have tolerated that anywhere else. Why is the Nicklesville gang allowed to behave as though they have ownership on public land ? Summer is coming and the nation wide homeless issue will be on the move, as this camp has notoriety and even a wiki page we can likely expect more influx and more trouble.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident March 25, 2013 (9:21 pm)

    THANK YOU!!!!
    I have posted this same information on ALL the posts about NV and the homeless situation here and on the ST forums, you are the FIRST to ask me about where these building are at.
    These building are on what was once Sand Point Naval Station. They are the barracks, chow hall and power plant. The last time I drove by, about 12 months ago, they were still standing with their windows boarded up.
    While I was in the Navy, I was the the POIC of the cleaning crews that field day’ed the common areas and I also inspected the rooms. They are decent rooms and would provide FAR FAR better living conditions than a tent in a park that floods everytime we get a good rain.
    The buildings were turned over to the city in (iirc) 1998-9? In fact the city used the brig there to hold the WTO rioters that were arrested, so the city KNOWS about the buildings there.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident March 25, 2013 (9:35 pm)

    There is also the old Navy Housing at what was once Ft Lawton on West Point, that I believe was also turned over to the city. I believe there are about 50-60 HOMES that could be used.
    But the issue here is if the city and the homeless advocates are willing to do what is neccessary to get these buildings repaired and the surrounding neighborhoods to accept it.
    One thing that MUST be stipulated is that the maintenance of these rooms/homes is up to the residents and if they can’t keep them clean and in a decent state of repair they are kicked out.

  • Ralph March 25, 2013 (9:42 pm)

    To the more general point of panhandlers, Please STOP giving money directly to them and instead donate to service organizations that help, WSFoodbank, YMCA, Salvation Army, DESC, etc.

    I work with many homeless drug and alcohol addicts, and the panhandling usually goes straight to the addiction. Compassion for those less fortunate is needed. Service organizations can help much better than directly giving cash to panhandlers.

  • mcbride March 25, 2013 (9:49 pm)

    A Lot of what I’d say here as a preface, I’ve said before (linked here if interested: Some of the ideas are a little stale by the now-updated social experiment, but the core issues have not changed.
    The city punted and and by abdicating responsibility turned the area into a no mans land, with first right of refusal belonging to those occupying the space. A lot of laws and protocols fall into the complicated area of grey when that happens. This Is a special circumstance, uncomfortable as that is, and until the city makes a firm decision to allow or disallow use, that isn’t going to change. There’s no arrests from this last event because one or two cops entering into a volatile situation with a couple hundred unknowns, some armed, is not when you break out the cuffs. There’s no *extra* cops lying around, so a larger dedicated police presence there is an absence somewhere else in the community. There’s no easy answers here.
    It has not yet been politically expedient to sell the land out from under Nicklesville, even to a humanitarian organization. I suspect that has changed given current circumstances, and within a year, this will be a memory. If so, buckle up. It gets worse before it gets better.
    And what then? Probably back to Lake City, I reckon. A world away, sight and mind. But no improvement and no change. Accept that reality and we kick the can down the road, sure to be surprised when it lands on our door again in the future. There’s going to be a good discussion on homelessness in the W Seattle peninsula at the next Gathering of Neighbors event on May 4th. Consider it.

  • JoB March 25, 2013 (10:01 pm)

    please give me a heads up on the Gathering of Neighbors event may 4. i mean well and it may even get as far as the pile that is supposed to get onto my calendar… but getting there generally takes a little reminding..

  • Jeff platt March 25, 2013 (10:37 pm)

    I live up on holden and im tired of the crackeads walking through our area on the way to nicklesville
    Crime has to of gone up since it started
    Clear out the garbage please or at least make the smell tolerable
    Thier crackheads too
    Stop trying to spray frabreeze over stuff that truly stinks

  • Joaquin Andujar March 26, 2013 (1:08 am)

    Bwahaha! Commune vagrants…haha…complaining about hahaha police inaction! OH the irony. Go away apologists and communists. Go. Away.

  • JoB March 26, 2013 (7:09 am)

    you know.. this morning the label apologist really strikes me the wrong way.
    I cant tell you for a fact that i am not apologizing for anything or trying to febreze it away.

    I didn’t create the camp and i sure as heck didn’t move it to that field. But once it was here i did’t try to pretend that it didn’t exist.

    More than few of us have invested time trying to improve living conditions in the camp…
    and attempting to help the camp live up to it’s intentions.

    In the midst of some truly inflated rhetoric on both sides, we have been quietly crossing that berm and spending enough time to learn who is there and what could be done to help them move on.

    if you want to help the homeless move off your streets..
    talk to them instead of about them.
    it’s a lot more effective.

  • miws March 26, 2013 (8:34 am)

    How many of you naysayers, the ones so harshly judging NV Residents, Homeless folks in general, addicted folks, and all, consider yourselves supporters, and especially staunch supporters of our Veterans? (JFTR, I am not a Veteran)


    Well, *NEWSFLASH* many of these folks are our Veterans. They are the ones that served our Country, went to war, get mentally and/or physically screwed up over there, wherever “there” was for them, and come back Home, broken in mind and/or body.


    They come Home broken, and are perhaps unable to find or hold down a job.


    They come Home broken, unable to find, or obtain proper and sufficient medical care for their issues.


    They come Home broken, unable to find other benefits; they are (sometimes repeatedly) denied. Or, if they are able to obtain benefits, it may be years before they receive them, due to the repeated denials, and the Veteran’s repeated appeals. Also, once benes are finally received, a lawyer, if they hired one sometimes gets a sizable chunk.


    They come Home broken, unable to find Housing, and may incur the same roadblocks mentioned in the last paragraph.


    They come Home broken, in mind and/or body, and are on medication to try ease the emotional and/or physical pain, and end up becoming addicted. They may turn to alcohol and/or illegal drugs to kill the pain.


    They come Home broken, in mind and/or body, and because they are “smelly Homeless bums”, and/or “no good did it to themselves druggies/drunks” and are figuratively kicked in the head by those that consider them such.


    Just a reminder: these are our Veterans I’m speaking of………


  • cinder March 26, 2013 (10:40 am)

    ah organization, what would we do with out it.? Food ,shelter and safety. I am for all those things,People are not germs and virus’s some times they fall and some times its hard. They need hope when you lose every thing. You tend to lose hope. The city really needs to do a study of what we can do for such peoples. And raise the money to help them and give them hope, you fall in the mud you either crawl or you get up and take a step which will lead to another and another and so on.

  • Kay K March 26, 2013 (11:44 pm)

    I guess I am not sure why this has to keep going from crisis to crisis, episodal or anecdotal.

    If NV is really a floating temporary shelter concept for folks in need, they need to move to a different location as provided for in city code.

    If they are trying to be a permanent shelter-they need to do it in a more appropriate, human environment rather than a rat infested, EPA toxic cleanup site.

    Why should South Park and Highland Park be the only neighborhoods sharing in this burden of caring? Let us host Food Lifeline, which serves many thousands of hungry folks as well and adheres to the building and sanitation codes.

    NV can move to another site as they have always said they would.

  • AlkiStu March 27, 2013 (12:20 am)

    Did you know 30% of foster children become homeless within 2 years of turning 18 yrs.
    The homeless kids in the Admiral District have been hanging around for over a year.Perhaps they have been overlooked until now.Their encampment is very close to the Admiral Dstrict. They are not menacing as I found out by taking the time to stop and talk to them. The couple with the “pitbull” are quite humble and polite. The female is going to an alternative school. Although I would not give them cash I have helped tham out with bicycles to meet their transportation needs. There have been a few new kids coming and going. I had only one incident when one young man shoplifted a bicycle light. When I caught up with him I told him I don’t call the police. I get my property back and make the perp feel like crap. He felt so guilty at that point that he wanted to give me ten dollars of his food money even though I recovered my light which he probably needed for his campsite. Oddly the homeless kids make eye contact, greet you, smile and act the way I continue hoping to see the fortunate ones will behave in the A. D..

  • miws March 27, 2013 (8:00 am)

    Stu, you are a fine example of a compassionate member of our community, as both a resident, and business person.


    Thanks for taking the time to talk with them, help them out sensibly by providing the bicycles, and when necessary, and handling the theft issue in a manner that wouldn’t add another negative experience to the young man’s life.



  • I live in Highland Park March 27, 2013 (1:14 pm)

    I have worked with the homeless since I was 13 years old. I don’t mean volunteered at food banks or shelters, I mean having homeless co workers including a couple of NV residents. I got kicked out of 8th grade and my parents immediately got me a job with a family friend who is a contractor and I have been working for him on and off for the last 12 years. I admire this friend very much because he tends to hire people who are down on their luck, homeless people, recovering addicts, (delinquent teenagers) etc and pays around 15 bucks an hour. I guess the main thing I wanted to post here is that many homeless people work, the reality is that in this country work is not necessarily enough. I am incredibly lucky to be where I am today, and my guess is that so are most of the people who read this blog. Lets not give in to NIMBYism. Granted as people who know more about the situation than I do have pointed out NV is not a long term solution by any stretch of the imagination, but this idea that a majority of residents are “choosing a homeless lifestyle” is ridiculous. We need a stronger safety net, but in the meantime the encampment is better than nothing.

  • miws March 27, 2013 (2:33 pm)

    I live in Highland Park, well put and thank you.


    To expand a bit on what you said, contrary to what often seems popular belief, not all folks are able, just in general reality, and/or due their own health and such, to find a job they can do, get a second, or even third job, until they can “get all caught up”, and just because they may actually have a job, are able to afford housing.


    Also, if a person is Homeless, and finally able to find a job, they aren’t always able to move right into housing, even if their rent payment leaves a bit extra for other necessities. They usually have to come up with any combination of first/last/deposit, and there is always the chance they may lose the job for several reasons, including an unforeseen illness or injury that puts them out of commission long enough to where the employer terminates their job.



  • MARTY March 30, 2013 (7:10 pm)


Sorry, comment time is over.