West Seattle encampments: Ex-Nickelsville site fenced but not cleared; California Way cleanup

On the fourth day after “Moving Day,” the former site of the “Nickelsville” encampment at 7116 West Marginal Way SW in West Seattle still isn’t clear; the photo above, taken this afternoon, shows the view southeast into the site from what was its parking-lot entrance. However, a chain-link fence went up today around its perimeter, as the city had promised – this view is from that same side, atop the steps:


And this view is on the north side, along Highland Park Way SW:

According to the Nickelsville Works Facebook page, the city will allow them access to the site through the end of tomorrow (Friday, September 6th) to clean up and pack up what’s left following the move to three other sites (all shown in our Sunday coverage). Mayoral spokesperson Aaron Pickus confirms that, and tells WSB that once that extension is over, “The City will clean up with the site with the appropriate equipment.”

Meanwhile, the city also continues to post and clear small campsites found in other areas. A resident tipped us to some clearing work in a greenbelt area along California Way between North Admiral and east Alki; it had been posted in July, and the cleanup crew left a big stack of bags Wednesday afternoon:

The city’s approach to smaller campsites continues to follow what was outlined here three years ago, according to Pickus.

46 Replies to "West Seattle encampments: Ex-Nickelsville site fenced but not cleared; California Way cleanup"

  • Charles September 5, 2013 (4:18 pm)

    And do the fencing and cleanup costs come out of the $500k allocated or do we all have to pay extra for that, too?

    Thanks, Nickelsville, don’t come back y’all.

    • WSB September 5, 2013 (4:23 pm)

      The $500,000 was for housing and services for camp residents.

  • Not Surprised September 5, 2013 (4:57 pm)

    So much for LNT tent encampments.


  • payrollgirl September 5, 2013 (5:07 pm)

    WOW 500,000 to spend on this??? I could think of a lot of other things that money could go for.
    Not to be a negative nellie but really!!!

  • flimflam September 5, 2013 (5:16 pm)

    wow. so the former residents just shrug their shoulders and move on to a new mess? can’t believe they wouldn’t want to do their part to at least clean up after themselves. nope, Mommy will do it.

    • WSB September 5, 2013 (6:14 pm)

      Yes, they have been soliciting volunteers to drive people back to this site daily through tomorrow for cleanup. It appears the majority of what’s left is comprised of the “simple sturdy sleeping structures,” which require some heavy equipment to transport.

  • anonyme September 5, 2013 (5:28 pm)

    Why aren’t the residents required to come back and clean this up? Most aren’t working, right? If they’re able-bodied, there’s no excuse why they can’t do this; I think they owe the community that much. Get one of the volunteers to drive them over.

  • ma September 5, 2013 (6:25 pm)

    A perfect example of us having to ‘take care’ of those that can’t take care of themselves. Where’s the responsibility lie?
    Pathetic. We keep perpetuating the existence. Think about it!

  • joel September 5, 2013 (6:26 pm)

    I am sure the city must have collected a security deposit from each tenant. just withhold the damages from the deposit.

    the 150 living there should have had this cleaned up in no time.

  • AE September 5, 2013 (6:45 pm)

    It looks like mostly heavy stuff that needs to be removed, not stuff the residents could have carried off easily.
    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I do have a heart, and this seemed like a good location for NV to me. Near bus lines, but away from residential development (and people who might have complained). Good luck and best wishes to the folks who need a home.

  • bridge to somewhere September 5, 2013 (7:33 pm)

    This mess does not endear the community to Nickelsville’s plight.

  • Community Member September 5, 2013 (8:34 pm)

    It doesn’t look all that different from Gas Works on July 5.
    Seriously, it looks like 99.5% got cleaned up. Pretty good considering that some of the mess was probably from campers who moved on 18 months ago, And some damaged pallets – somebody has to decide whether they are re-useable recycleable, garbage, etc, so of course there will be a few odds and ends left because one camper thinks they will be being moved to the new site, but the movers think they are trash, and the trash people think they will be recycled…
    I’m not a big fan of tent cities, but there’s no reason to not recognize that they actually did a pretty good clean-up job, considering the number of campers, and the number of donors who dropped off domations over two years,

  • Not Surprised September 5, 2013 (8:58 pm)

    @ AE – I actually think the best thing that could happen with these type of encampments is that they be allowed IN residential areas, but NOT in the residential areas that are hard hit with poverty and all kinds of social ills. When tent encampments start landing next store to Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien and Mike McGinn’s house as well as the benign streets of Phinney Ridge, Wallingford, North Admiral, Beach Drive, Queen Anne, Leschi, Madison Park, Seward Park, View Ridge, Ravenna, Laurelhurst and the bluffs of Magnolia then we will hear a different song being sung in this city and likely come up with a comprehensive and reality based approach vs the continued dumping on neighborhoods that can’t handle any more problems, but get the shaft because they are easy pickins’ by do gooders who want someone else to shoulder their purported moral superiority.

  • miws September 5, 2013 (9:22 pm)

    It doesn’t look all that different from Gas Works on July 5.


    Excellent point,Community Member. Thank you for bring that up. I doubt that I otherwise would have even thought to offer some comparisons….





  • metrognome September 5, 2013 (9:44 pm)

    wonder what the site looked like *before* they moved in. Anyone who doesn’t like the extent of the clean-up is certainly welcome to volunteer to transport residents to and from Nickelsville and their new location, where they are probably busy getting their new home set up. You might learn something during those rides.

  • Charles September 5, 2013 (9:45 pm)

    Yes, the litter from an event with 40,000 people vs the garbage left at a camp with 150 people is a perfectly apt comparison.

    *rolls eyes*

  • Jim P. September 5, 2013 (9:59 pm)

    “On the fourth day after “Moving Day,” the former site of the “Nickelsville” encampment…..still isn’t clear”

    And is even one person surprised?

    What you get for free you do not value. Yet certain people and groups wonder why many of us do not find such neighbors desirable or welcome them with open arms into our neighborhood.

    The pictures speak for themselves.

  • Mike September 5, 2013 (10:12 pm)

    I don’t care who left it, any people leaving public land as a dump facility are in the wrong. Be it Alki, July 4th at Gas Works or previous camp sites. Pack it in, Pack it out! It must have been a miracle that over 1,000 teenage boys and a few adults could leave virtually no mess at Scout jamboree events. Maybe this is a great opportunity for those that need to do some public service time to redeem themselves. Call in the inmates to clean up.

  • Community Member September 5, 2013 (10:59 pm)

    Charles – 150 people x 800 days = 120,000 people-day units.

    40,000 people x 1 day – 40,000 people-day units.
    I guess you’re right – not an apt comparison at all. Gasworks should only have 1/3 the mess of Nickelsville.
    Look, I’m not a fan of homeless encampments. I think we need gentlemen’s hotels, rooming houses, bed-sits, mobile home parks, and many other options for extreme low income/no income housing. We have poor/disabled/addicted/malfunctional people, and they need to live somewhere, but our societal-legal structure seems to only provide housing options for the functional lower-class and up. It would be better if there were legal housing options of some sort for the non-functional as well.
    There’s lots to debate here, I’m just saying that the fact that there’s a bit of mess left behind is an absolute red herring. Even high-income, tax-paying, functional members of society leave messes when they congregate in large groups. That, in itself, is a minor issue.

  • JoB September 6, 2013 (6:44 am)

    “Even high-income, tax-paying, functional members of society leave messes when they congregate in large groups.”

    yes.. they do

    i am concerned about whether they will be able to move the small simple sturdy sleeping structures…

    they were were a high investment item for donors and a high utility item for some of the campers who would have had a difficult time surviving last winter without them.

  • JoB September 6, 2013 (6:46 am)

    i forgot to add that community member made a great point…
    we have destroyed the kinds of housing that used to be available for those with limited incomes…
    and we are not replacing them.
    where exactly do we expect the people who were once housed there to go?

  • anonyme September 6, 2013 (7:09 am)

    The cost of heavy removal need not fall to taxpayers. There are lots of guys who pick up pallets and used wood for free, and others who could use the remaining wood products. Must be some way to get the word out…

    How about a big “FREE” sign?

  • GenHillOne September 6, 2013 (7:32 am)

    I have seen pictures from some who have been beyond this point (looking from the berm/entrance is the “cleanest” view). The volume of what was left behind is astonishing. Lots of big stuff for sure (“easily disassembled” structures are not as promoted); tons of crap, plenty of it small enough to be carried to the dumpster, but not. And the smell of rotting food and full port-a-potties is reportedly an added bonus. I’m glad the fence is up. How long will the parking lot posse be allowed to hang out there?

  • SrslySharon September 6, 2013 (8:02 am)

    The mess just shows a complete lack of respect. Primarily for themselves, and for the ones that handed them everything they needed to live there.

  • 33Pete September 6, 2013 (8:06 am)

    I think all reasonable people would agree that it is unacceptable for anyone – from the homeless to the well-heeled – to leave their trash in a public place for the rest of us to see and smell, and ultimately pay for removal.

    The former encampment site is a mess by any measure, and the notion that it is 99.5% clean is a joke. Please – it is filled with trash, rotting food, left over wood and the like – in short, a personal dump for the former residents.

    This is a group that purports to be a “Self Managed Eco Village.” Well, there is nothing “Self Managed” or “Eco” about making public property your personal dump and relying on others to pay for its clean up.

    This is also a group that tries to build positive relations with the community – again, nothing positive about making our property your personal dump.

    Simply put – there is no justicifcation.

    Much like the partiers who leave their garbage on the beach after the 4th of July or the first day of sun, it is unacceptable. To point to others whose behavior is described as despicable and horrendous is certainly not a positive way to defend this conduct, and only shows the encampments’ behavior is aligned with others who have no respect for the community.

  • Teri Ensley September 6, 2013 (9:45 am)

    There is a greater community member that has volunteered use of his forklift and flat bed truck to move the sleeping structures. There was one loaded last night and it will be moved today.

    The rain has put a bit of a kabash on the clean up and move of bigger items. It’s my understanding that today is suppose to be a big clean up day by the residents–weather permitting.

  • wetone September 6, 2013 (10:11 am)

    All I got to say is I feel sorry for the neighborhoods they have been moved to. For this is what they will have to deal with. These people get a free place to live and still can’t get off their butt’s and haul their garbage to the dump less than a 1/2 mile away. They have old shopping carts down there load them up and haul it to the dump if they have to, there should be no excuses for them not cleaning that lot up and hauling their garbage away leaving that property as it was before they moved onto it. Funny how they have money for cigs, pet food cell phones and more but they still can’t clean up for themselves and pay debts owed for porta potties and other cost they have accumulated while living on that property.

    • WSB September 6, 2013 (10:52 am)

      Please note, this is a continuing-to-evolve situation. The cleanup work is continuing – this is an update, NOT a wrapup – and we will be checking back; they have not said “we’re done.” Regarding the porta-potties, they posted on http://facebook.com/nickelsvilleworks that they had received donations to catch up ($5,000 was mentioned, from one West Seattle church) on that, and that’s why (as we saw when we made the rounds twice on Sunday) there are porta-potties at all three new sites. – TR

  • JoB September 6, 2013 (10:52 am)

    just think of all that money we taxpayers saved by not providing housing for any of the literally thousands of people who have passed through Nickeslville in the past couple of years..
    is that what they are supposed to be grateful for?
    you don’t hear those of us who actually contributed the most at Nickeslville complaining about the waste incurred keeping “those” people alive… do you? why do you think that is?
    i will admit that clean-up is the most efficient use of taxpayer money… but it is the only one that the NIMBY crowd will agree to..
    all in all… a small price to pay

  • JoB September 6, 2013 (10:54 am)


    the cigs are roll your owns using the cheapest foulest tobacco possible..
    the pet food is donated
    and the cellphone come from a free program that limits them to 200 minutes a month

    but heck.. you are really on a roll there..why let a few facts get in the way of your rhetoric?

  • Cait September 6, 2013 (1:23 pm)

    I think the public concern about the photos is undrestandable – acting like it’s not understandable isn’t helping perception.

  • Above it all September 6, 2013 (3:07 pm)

    All I have to say is wow, hope and pray those of you with your holier than thou attitudes don’t ever get down on your luck, or have a family member who becomes homeless due to mental illness, drug abuse, alcoholism, and then expect society to treat yourself or loved one with any compassion or understanding…have some empathy, people. Do you think the homeless want to live this way? No place to call home, no warm place to live and get out of the rain, having to go from pillar to post to try and eck out a living? I feel sorry for those of you who lack empathy for the less fortunate among us. And believe me, they are — or will be someday — your relatives, friends or loved ones, as they are mine. And I come from a middle class family, but mental illness and/or addictions or lost jobs, don’t differentiate among those it strikes, so everyone is at risk of becoming homeless.

  • JoB September 6, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    the public jumps way too fast to condemn.
    yes, it is taking them some time to clean the mess up… but I was there at lunch time today and there were about 30 campers.. yes campers.. working very hard at breaking down platforms and stacking blocks so they could be moved.
    i know they were campers because i knew most of them and a few i didn’t came by to be introduced.
    both moving and cleaning up have been a massive undertaking.. but they are making a good faith effort to do the work..
    even after reading the comments here.

  • JoB September 6, 2013 (3:09 pm)

    i wonder how many of those who have jumped to some pretty derogatory conclusions would have worked so hard after seeing themselves put down day after day in print?
    i am guessing not so many.

  • Jeannine September 6, 2013 (11:44 pm)

    My friend was homeless for almost 3 years. She isn’t a drug addict, does have a dysfunctional family that wouldn’t help her. I know what it’s like to be homeless because of her.
    Are people forgetting that homeless are mostly veterans, almost 2/3? My friend has a disability and psychological problems, very common in the homeless community also. I can’t believe some people are so insensitive These people have to go somewhere!
    To categorize them all as lazy freeloaders is just insensitive. Try being homeless for a while, live in your van and see how fun that is a few nights in a parking lot in Moses Lake in below 0 weather like my friend endured one winter. It takes a lot to become homeless, and even longer to recover.
    Sure there are homeless that are not good people, but people with money are not all angels either, hello!
    There are more empty homes in foreclosure than homeless in this country, THAT’S the real problem. Some of these homeless I KNOW lost their homes.
    Republicans in our do-nothing-because-they-hate- Obama congress contributed to this problem by voting down both the jobs bill and veterans aid bills, both of them reasonable and needed.

  • Cait September 7, 2013 (12:41 am)

    “Derogatory” is assuming that it has anything to do with WHO made the mess and not the mess itself.

    I’m speaking for myself here but I see this echoed in a few other comments: I don’t care who is responsible for it as long as it’s being worked on. It’s not immediately clear in the body of this article that that is the case. You have to rely on reading the comments to know that an effort was being made today to clean up, only that they had access to it. The phrase “still isn’t clear” leads one to believe that it should have been clear by now.

    People are responding to the picture, the price tag and the lack of details on how it’s going to continue to be picked up. That is cleared up in the comments, but most people are going to see the picture and article and comment possibly without reading everyone else’s thoughts.

    Don’t jump to assume that people are being derogatory when they MIGHT just be concerned. “Concerned citizens” have been a hindrance along the way for the camp, I get that. But the same instinct that has many people concerned about this is the same thing that makes them concerned enough to lend a helping hand in Nickelsville. They aren’t mutually exclusive – unless of course being defensive is now a recipe for forward progress.

  • JoB September 7, 2013 (8:49 am)

    the effort to clean up didn’t suddenly appear yesterday.. the effort has been made every day…
    that’s what created those great piles of junk in the parking lot.
    just like with those huge messes we make when re-organizing our homes… it initially looks much worse before it looks better
    it’s only now that the mess is contained enough for people to begin to see what the end result will be.
    in the meantime.. it is as derogatory for us to walk into the middle of their home and criticize them for the mess we assume they won’t be responsible for
    as it would be for you to walk into my home uninvited mid project and criticize me for my mess…
    if you walked into my garage right now you would assume i am the worst kind of hoarder possible…
    with any luck in a few weeks it will look very different.
    your idea of defensive is a bit different than mine.
    i merely stated that the public jumps way too fast to condemn…
    that price tag you say people are reacting to?
    right now the only place it exists is in the public mind..
    planted there by derogatory remarks..
    those are the remarks i referenced.
    i too am concerned as to whether they will be able to pull this off..
    they need help…
    and unfortunately.. those same derogatory remarks make people who might otherwise volunteer think twice.
    it’s an uphill battle made much harder than it needs to be.

  • Not Surprised September 7, 2013 (11:41 am)

    I had an experience on the Metro #2 the other day. As it rolled by the new camp near Union and 22nd a couple of riders asked to be dropped off right next to the camp vs the bus stop that was a block away. What this indicated to me was another telling moment that SOME of the people living in the camps truly expect special treatment that no other person would ask for. These were NOT senior citizens and were VERY much able to get onto the bus with me downtown without ANY difficulty whatsoever. The driver did not oblige.

    Let the choir now begin explaining away this kind of gimme, gimme, gimme behavior.

    • WSB September 7, 2013 (12:10 pm)

      Just FYI before discussion continues on conditions of the site when we visited a few days ago … we are headed out in that direction for an updated view. Checking the “Nickelsville Works” Facebook page, we see posts about plans today to move the remaining “simple sturdy sleeping structures” and the city continuing to allow access so they can do that. – TR

  • ukantwin74 September 7, 2013 (12:07 pm)

    The largest problem was that out of 150 campers, the move has fallen on the backs of about 30 people after half of the camp left to get out of the work of this move. Many of the remaining campers are single mothers/with children, elderly and disabled. Many campers have jobs. So they have been trying their best to help as much as they can while the rest of us continue moving the mostly pallets and cinderblock…BY HAND!!! We have no budget for heavy equipment. The half million dollers was given to UNION GOSPEL MISSION. NOT Nickelsville. I think that was has been accomplished by so few should be a testament to just how tough and hard working many of us are. If you’d like it to go faster than four days, then get off of your ass and HELP!!! Your ignorant critiques show me just how selfish and self-rightous that you are. Which is everything that is wrong with this country right now. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Which is it going to be?

  • wetone September 7, 2013 (12:12 pm)

    JoB, really don’t care if they are roll your own cigs their still spending money that should go towards paying debt down instead of expecting others to do it for them, along with living a healthier life but then why ? because we the working and a lot of non-working will be paying their medical bills anyhow. Free cell phones great where do I sign up ? when I’m between jobs or don’t want to work ? Kept giving and not making people responsible for their actions and they will moving here by the bus loads. Now I am not saying all these people are this way just more than not.

  • WSB September 7, 2013 (1:15 pm)

    Just stopped by and cleanup continues, with a forklift and trucks … will have a separate update w/photos upon return to HQ.

  • miws September 7, 2013 (7:47 pm)

    ukantwin74, Thanks for your personal perspective from “the Front Lines”.


    I know from my own experience living in NV two years ago, that there were a few seemingly able-bodied that were lazy, but there were a hell of a lot that would help with the regular and extra chores in a heartbeat, including folks with various health issues, myself included, that probably pushed themselves beyond what they should have.


    Believe me, if it weren’t for my health issues, I would have been down there helping out these last several days.




  • JoB September 7, 2013 (9:38 pm)

    if you are willing to become indigent to get a free phone so you can connect with social services and apply for work.. please.. go for it.
    you are likely to find that the free ride isn’t all it’s cracked up to be..
    but by then.. if you are indigent.. you will be stuck dealing with it whether you like it or not.
    oh well.

  • Cait September 7, 2013 (11:14 pm)

    No one is asking for it to get done in 4 days, that’s what I’m saying! It wasn’t immediately clear that this was ongoing; clearly this resulted in some misunderstanding about the work effort and everyone is jumping down each other’s throats and getting defensive over a mess that is now nearly cleaned up.

  • ukantwin74 September 9, 2013 (11:07 am)

    Clean-up’s almost done and so I’d like to say… Thank-You.

    Thank you to Scott Morrow and Peggy Hoats for helping to start Nickelsville and creating a safe place for ANYONE who needed it.

    Thank you to our engineer Doug, who has given us so many designs, time, labor and finished products like bridges, security stations, Small Simple Sturdy Sleeping Structures,and SO much more.

    Thank You Greatly to all of our doners without whom we would have frozen, starved, been wet, flooded, and burned. Thank you to our water guys!!!

    And thank to to all of our campers who stuck with it and believed in creating a safe environment for men, women, children and pets. For realizing that when we help those around us, we help ourselves and quite literally change our world for the better…and because without shelter PEOPLE DIE!!!!

Sorry, comment time is over.