1:35 PM: Just announced by Mayor Ed Murray: One of the “safe parking” lots that will be opened for RVs is the former site of the encampment that still, in other locations, calls itself “Nickelsville” – in Highland Park, at the West Marginal Way/Highland Park Way intersection.
We went down to check the site, where the parking lot – which appears to have been recently cleaned up – still holds signage from the last encampment closure, September 2013. In addition to our photo above, here’s an aerial photo from the city’s announcement:
We’d been working to confirm this since hearing that citywide reporters had mentioned this morning that a “Delridge” site would be announced, but without any information on the location. (The city refers to all of eastern West Seattle as the “Delridge” district.)
Unofficial RV parking zones have turned up in West Seattle recently – including the one mentioned here in mid-December, along SW Andover adjacent to the Nucor plant. But they haven’t generated the furor that had been reported in some north-end neighborhoods.
From the city’s news release, which says the lot is expected to be open within a month:
In response to the continued crisis of homelessness on the streets of Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray issued an emergency order to expedite the siting of two safe lots in Ballard and Delridge for homeless individuals and families living in recreational vehicles and cars.
“These are not long term solutions to end homelessness, but temporary locations that can be managed to provide a safer environment for those living on our streets and have less impact on our neighborhoods,” said Murray. “The City’s active case management services will reach out to those experiencing homelessness and living in their vehicles, with the goal to help move them to permanent housing as quickly as possible. These safe lots will also help reduce the public health issues currently impacting several of our neighborhoods.”
The new safe lots are part of the City’s overall actions under Mayor Murray’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness that has spurred the opening and expansion of new shelters and authorized tent encampments, and increased investments in services and outreach. Opening the new safe lots will occur along with additional trash pickups in neighborhoods, as well as renewed enforcement of the City’s existing parking rules and addressing public safety issues that have arisen in recent months.
“When Mayor Murray declared the state of emergency, the direction given to us was to take significant steps to immediately help those in need living on our streets and address underlying causes of homelessness. Since then, Seattle has expanded outreach services, opened up space for nearly 300 individuals in new shelters or authorized tent encampments and we have invested more in prevention services. Today’s announcement of new safe lots is another part of this larger effort under the state of emergency to provide immediate, short term assistance,” said Catherine Lester, Director of Seattle’s Human Services Department. “In addition to the authority under the Mayor’s emergency orders, we will be able to stand up these safe lots quickly thanks to the fast work of our partners including local service providers, other City departments and WSDOT.”
To expedite the siting and permitting of the safe lots, Mayor Murray is exercising powers invoked under his Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness issued on Nov. 2, 2015. The mayor will send the emergency order to the City Council today, where it can be approved, rejected or amended.
Expected to begin operations in 30 days, the two safe lots can hold up to an estimated 50 vehicles. Each site will have sanitation and garbage service, as well as case management assistance for those experiencing homelessness in order to build pathways to permanent housing. All residents must abide by a code of conduct policy that will prohibit drugs and violence, and require residents to be good neighbors.
The Ballard site, the Yankee Diner parking lot at Shilshole Ave. NW and 24th Ave. NW, is owned by Seattle Public Utilities. The Seattle Department of Transportation has been in negotiations with the Washington State Department of Transportation to acquire the Glass Yard lot at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way SW for the Delridge site. The City and WSDOT are discussing the terms of the sale of the property and will likely require future legislation to finalize the purchase and sale agreement. But to accommodate the Mayor’s emergency order, WSDOT has agreed to allow the City to use the site as a safe lot in the intervening period during these negotiations. …
Read the entire news release here. We’ll continue to update, and we’re told this is expected to be on the agenda for the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting at 7 pm tomorrow (Wednesday) night at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.
5:27 PM: The Highland Park Action Committee has confirmed that Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who led a council briefing about the city’s policy on encampment sweeps shortly before this announcement – will be at HPAC’s next meeting, 7 pm Wednesday, January 27th, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden).
10:44 PM: Councilmember Herbold has written about the RV-lot decision, briefly, at the end of a report on her concerns about the recent sweeps and this morning’s briefing about them – read it in its entirety here.