‘Nickelsville’ updates: HPAC files claim; encampment’s proposal; city clarifies study cost

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”:

FAS spokesperson Katherine Schubert-Knapp e-mailed WSB to explain that while the mayor’s proposed ordinance lists two $150,000 line items and a “total $300,000” regarding a possible environmental study, as we reported Friday, the study would actually cost $150,000, because the other line item is for one department to reimburse the other for that cost.

Meantime, the official Facebook group for the encampment, Nickelsville Works, has published a post from its Central Committee suggesting a different option than the two the council committee will consider Wednesday. An excerpt:

… We at the Nickelsville Central Committee are asking you to support another option – one that brings good new homes soon to both Nickelsville and Food Lifeline:

This option has us moving out of our present location very quickly and turning it over to Food Lifeline. We would then move to two locations that are ‘controlled’ (but not owned) by religious institutions. We would stay at each site for two years, and have not more than 100 people at either site. Most of the sites we are looking at could require rent payments to the owner (but not more than the $300,000 study proposed for the Glassyards.) As always, we would be glad to work with a Non-Profit Social Service Organization on Management Aspects of Nickelsville.

We are grateful to the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Low Income Housing Institute, and Food Lifeline for providing us advice, assistance and counsel on this option to move quickly.

This all comes shortly after the encampment marked the two-year anniversary of its return to the West Seattle site where it was founded in fall 2008 (days before being evicted and starting a series of moves).

WSB coverage is archived here, newest-to-oldest.

33 Replies to "'Nickelsville' updates: HPAC files claim; encampment's proposal; city clarifies study cost"

  • lox May 20, 2013 (2:40 pm)

    I applaud Carolyn for being brave enough to take a stand and say enough is enough. You have my full support. Thank you.

  • jissy May 20, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    What lox said.

  • One Block Away May 20, 2013 (3:29 pm)

    I applaud Nickelsville Central Committee for presenting another option.

  • Christie May 20, 2013 (3:35 pm)

    Thanks, HPAC

  • Heather May 20, 2013 (3:53 pm)

    I also applaud Carolyn and N.C. Committee. My full support is behind HPAC. I truly believe that there is a healthier and safer option for housing the homeless. Maintained properties that house smaller groups of residents is certainly a better solution to the current living situation.

  • Mike May 20, 2013 (5:35 pm)

    Yes, HPAC.

  • West Seattle Hipster May 20, 2013 (5:49 pm)

    What lox said.

    I admire neighbors that are fighting to reclaim their neighborhood. Perhaps I would feel some compassion towards the illegal occupation if they had given back somehow to the local community. I have seen no instances where they were anything but a drain on Highland Park.

    Fight the good fight HPAC and Carolyn!

  • Mike May 20, 2013 (9:08 pm)

    What lox said. Thank you Carolyn!

  • Alan May 20, 2013 (10:35 pm)

    Applauding aside, I know this is no fun for you Carolyn. Thank you and HPAC.

  • Diane May 21, 2013 (1:17 am)

    kudos, applause, thanks to Carolyn for this and the many, many contributions to community, all while raising 3 baby boys; you are amazingly awesome, and inspiring

  • Delridge Neighbor May 21, 2013 (7:16 am)

    Thank you, HPAC!

  • JoB May 21, 2013 (7:26 am)

    I had to step away from this last night because i couldn’t find a way to say what i think needs to be said here.
    I am saddened by this latest “we’ll show them” step that Highland Park’s Action Committee has taken.
    Forcing city hall to act precipitously will not solve any of the very real problems that prevent Nickelsville from being a safe place for people who need housing… nor will it solve Highland Park’s perceived problem.. those who camp in the woods adjacent.
    All of this energy would be better spent lobbying the state legislature to fund programs that keep people off the street and our city government to spend our tax dollars more effectively on housing options for the homeless that will allow them to restructure their lives and move off our streets.
    yes, there are homeless people who choose the lifestyle.. but using them as the excuse not to help those who would move back into the mainstream if they could doesn’t help anyone… not even taxpayers wanting to move their unpleasantness somewhere else.. anywhere else where we will not have to acknowledge their reality.

  • Darryll May 21, 2013 (8:48 am)

    Thanks for your hard work, Carolyn and HPAC!

  • K Jones May 21, 2013 (10:48 am)

    My cheers and applause to Carolyn, HPAC and Nickelsville. Thanks for taking action, engaging the city, and fostering the conversation to create healthier and more sustainable communities for us all.

  • Kay K May 21, 2013 (10:51 am)

    I have to respond to JoB that these are precipitous actions on our part.

    The city government has been wrestling with this issue for over the 2 years that the camp has been in our neighborhood illegally and has not taken any action. The neighborhood has graciously hosted the camp during that time with the understanding that a more permanent and viable solution was being sought. Time is up and decisions need to be made, otherwise this will continue to drag on for as long as council can ignore it.

    The idea of the city spending money to “study” the site is very upsetting at this point. It implies that we consider this an appropriate place (with no grocery stores, access to services, etc.) to have a shanty town just because it has already been there two years.

    Faulty assumption.

  • cruzer May 21, 2013 (12:22 pm)

    Thanks HPAC!

  • sam-c May 21, 2013 (12:32 pm)

    thank you Carolyn and HPAC. I am glad you’ve let the City know this is a situation that cannot be ignored any longer. they need to step up, do their jobs and find solutions that work for the N’ville residents AND surrounding community members.

  • Hilari May 21, 2013 (12:49 pm)

    Thanks for the hard work on behalf of all of us, Carolyn! You are appreciated.

  • JoB May 21, 2013 (1:03 pm)

    lets be clear
    Nickelsville has occupied a piece of property in the middle of an Industrial District at the bottom of the hill… not in the midst of the community.
    and Highland Park has made not in my backyard a battle cry before when the city contemplated putting a correctional facility on that same industrial property.
    hosting makes it sound like the community embraced Nickelsville and worked alongside the residents to create a viable living arrangement.
    while it is true that some residents of Highland Park likely donated to Nickelsville…
    and at least a couple of the people who actually rolled up sleeves to help out live in Highland Park ..
    it is not true that Highland Park has assumed any more responsibility for Nickelsville than their neighbors either to the west or the south.
    yes, the situation at Nickelsville needs to be addressed…
    but precipitating a crisis in a situation that was already on it’s way to resolution isn’t likely to do anything more than delay actual resolution and move the problem along…
    that will solve not in my backyard..
    but tell me.. how will it solve the very real homeless problem that exists in the Highland Park greenbelts?
    Does anyone actually believe those currently camping in the greenbelts are going to follow in Nickelsville’s footsteps?
    I don’t. Maybe that’s because i have been in the greenbelts and actually know the stories of too many of the people who live there.

  • cs in hp May 21, 2013 (1:35 pm)

    Thanks for all the support we’ve gotten on this, I feel 100% certain we have the majority of our community’s support despite what JoB (who doesn’t live in our community) would like to have you believe. Just let her have the last word if that’s what she wants, it just doesn’t matter. So spend your energy coming to City Hall tomorrow instead of trying to argue in a comment section, it’s a much more productive use of your time, and your arguments will fall on the ears of the folks that should be making decisions around here. Thanks for the kudos, but as I said before, it’s the political pressure of petitions and showing up that make a difference- so thank you all for taking time to sign and make yourselves heard. We wouldn’t take a stand if we didn’t hear that the community wanted us to.

    • WSB May 21, 2013 (2:03 pm)

      CS is accurate in noting that it’s really important to take targeted action, and to (as we ALWAYS say) PLEASE GO TO THE MEETINGS, SO YOU CAN SHOW SUPPORT/OPPOSITION/WHATEVER and BE SEEN by decisionmakers.
      However, I do want to note that discussion/commenting on WSB is *NOT* unproductive. We don’t ask government agencies and politicians to read the site but time and time again I learn via offhand remarks in conversations or correspondence that they DO (which is wise, since it is the most-read news publication in West Seattle, and it has never been wise for government types to ignore what news media reports and what news media’s readers/viewers think), and that they do base actions and decisions and opinions at least in part on what they hear from the community here as well as via the usual channels. They have been known to respond here as well, though different offices/agencies/reps have different philosophies on that.
      If anything, I wish more people would speak up – in some issues, not necessarily this one, there may well be a silent majority … TR

  • JoB May 21, 2013 (1:44 pm)

    I don’t mean to be so adversarial..
    i don’t think the folks in Highland Park are bad folks..
    i just think we are not approaching this problem in a manner that is likely to provide substantive resolution for either the homeowners or the homeless.

  • cs in hp May 21, 2013 (2:13 pm)

    Tracy- when I spoke with Sally Clark’s aide, he said that they follow everything on WSB very closely. I don’t mean to discourage participation on the blog at all, just to try to discourage getting angry at the wrong folks. Creating villains is easy but often times misplaced, but creating discussion to affect change is difficult.

  • hp resident May 21, 2013 (3:02 pm)

    You are doing a wonderful job. You’re a crucial asset to Highland Park, and would be for any community. Your work on this issue has been measured, consistent,and balanced and reflects Highland Park, Riverview and the industrial business owners near the site most accurately. It is your job to bring our voice to the city, you are to be commended. Ultimately, it is this very specific push that will bring about positive change for the homeless situation in Seattle.

    and JoB, it’s no doubt you have had real life experience with homelessness, and this may give you a unique perspective. But, many residents living in communities throughout Seattle, who struggle to stay afloat, struggle to raise children, and struggle to create better communities have their own unique perspective. They have earned their right to have their voice factored into the equation that will bring a better more balanced answer to both the housed and houseless.

    The mayor and city council, in spite of their repeated good faith attempts, have thus far failed us all.

    I honestly feel they thought this would all disappear over a toxic little berm covered in Scot’s Broom.

  • rico May 21, 2013 (5:48 pm)

    Way overdue, thanks HPAC

  • KD May 21, 2013 (5:53 pm)

    Hi, as a resident who lives up the hill, and a frequent donator to the animals and the humans at N’Ville, I would REALLY like some help and options/feedback on what I have proposed to 3 different council members,(emailed their staff & aide’s my idea and photos of a ‘temporary’ and safe site), until this all becomes a final and pleasant solution. I will forward the same photos to WSB if Tracy & Patrick want to put them up for your opinion. There is a site just north of Georgetown on Airport Way@ Adams street that the SeattleFireDept. just vacated about a month ago.. it was their temporary digs while their Station 14 at 4th & Spokane was being retrofitted. I drive by this site everyday as some if you do, or go check it out. I wish the City Council would. It is a huge canopied tent/awning that housed the fire engines and one aid car. It has a cement slab floor(safer for pitching tents!), so the wind and rain factor would be gone, probably the rats too. Heck, even all the cats that live at N’Ville would be happier and safer, us animal rescue folks would be glad to set up an indoor cat run there. As of now, they are either tethered outside or stuck inside a tent, not a true cat life. This is on major bus lines(it is even with IndustrialPark), so the folks are MUCH closer to the stores,(Costco,Uwajimaya,PikePl.Market), the city human services to help get them back on their feet, the UrbanRestStop(for bathing & laundering), the IDS and the Downtown main library for Internet access. It obviously is city property, so THEY can be a little more proactive on directives. It’s about 1mile from a police substation, 1/2 mile from light rail station(more folks can accept jobs if in bus/rail lines). When SFD was there, obviously electricity & water was there for the shifts that lived/worked there until recently vacating back to their home station. As I started out saying.. at LEAST temporary, until all of this is figured out permanently. I’m not asking for official sanction, just to be taken seriously before the city ‘folds up this tent’ and puts it away. This would at least be temporarily safer, no flooding, more services and jobs accessable, and where the city can keep a more benevolent, watchful eye. I also did leave a phone message on N’Ville’s Scott Morrow’s # more than a month ago to also go check out this fantastic site, and also never heard back. Can I please get some help on getting the word out to the city on this?? Can someone please bring this up at Wednesdays CityCouncil meeting if going?? Thankyou!(check it out folks-Airport Way & Adams St. south of Spokane St., north of Georgetown!!)

  • JoB May 21, 2013 (6:56 pm)

    hp resident

    i would hope everyone would have their voices heard..
    including the homeless people who are most affected by this action
    unfortunately, they aren’t allowed to speak for themselves either by those who label them all druggies and alkies and users or by those who manipulate them to advocate against their own best interests.
    i don’t see this political posturing creating anything but a lose lose position for either the local homeowners or for the homeless…

  • JoB May 21, 2013 (7:00 pm)


    i have never represented myself as living in your neighborhood…

    i simply reject the claim that the immediate neighborhoods have “hosted” Nickelsville or born undue impact from their presence.

  • Chuck B. May 21, 2013 (9:14 pm)

    I also would love to “simply reject” the significant and ongoing actual impacts of Nickelsville (and its unfortunate dregs) on my immediate neighborhood.

    How nice it would be to be able to comfortably type the problems away into nonexistence from afar.

    What a joy that would be.

    However, the issues and situations I have directly observed and experienced in my neighborhood over the last two years do not allow me that luxury.

  • sam-c May 22, 2013 (6:41 am)

    KD: thank you for being pro-active and providing what seems to be a viable option. hopefully they (City officials) are open minded to these options and other constructive ideas.

  • JoB May 22, 2013 (7:12 am)

    thanks for bringing up the fact that there are easy viable solutions out there… that are being ignored in the jousting for position that is politics.
    i would bring this solution up for the public record but i will be unable to attend today.
    I sincerely hope someone else does.

  • JoB May 22, 2013 (7:12 am)

    my point is that those impacts are not unique to your neighborhood.

  • Chuck B. May 22, 2013 (8:11 am)

    “i simply reject the claim that the immediate neighborhoods have “hosted” Nickelsville or born undue impact from their presence.”

    Your exact words from 4 posts up.

Sorry, comment time is over.