VIDEO: Emotional, informational Highland Park Action Committee conversation on RV ‘safe lot’

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It was an emotional meeting, but not an angry one, when the Highland Park Action Committee convened a community conversation tonight about the city’s plan for a “safe lot” to host people living in their vehicles.

There were a few shouts, a few tears, and more than a few rounds of applause.

Even some laughter, when Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim thanked the crowd for being “so much nicer than the Ballard neighborhood” – not long after she had choked up while revealing that she had experienced homelessness as a child.

Ballard is the other neighborhood where the city plans to open a “safe lot” within a month. And tonight, Highland Park – already weary from the years of an encampment next to the future lot – learned more about the plan.

Like the answer to the big question: How many vehicles?

About 15, said Sola Plumacher from the city Human Services Department v, each expected to have 1 to 3 people, so a maximum of about 45 living in the “safe lot” – less than half the 100 or so who lived in the unauthorized encampment that was on the adjacent site for years.

Where will they come from?

IMG_1514 (1)
(WSB photo of newly added canvas-covered fencing at the future lot, Wednesday afternoon)

A big question, as the “safe lots” were first portrayed as a reaction to north-end neighborhood’s discomfiture with unauthorized RV camping – prompting people to ask if this lot would just be where some of the north-end parkers moved.

According to Plumacher, police and service providers will be making referrals from West Seattle and SODO.

Now – how the meeting unfolded. (We recorded it all on video, [update] added above.)


Mat McBride (above), chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, moderated the meeting, opening with not only a bit of background about the former encampment that had been next to the future “safe lot” site, but also a round of applause for longtime HPAC co-chairs Carolyn and Billy Stauffer, who are stepping down at the end of the month. At DNDC last week (WSB coverage here), McBride and others on hand had voted to ask the city that they send a delegation to this meeting rather than to next month’s DNDC meeting as had been offered.

Along with Plumacher and Kim, two SPD reps were on the panel – chief strategic adviser Virginia Gleason and Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis.

McBride began by asking prepared questions; an open-microphone attendee-question section followed.

First question:

Regarding social equity and neighborhoods taking their turns, considering that Highland Park already had “hosted” an encampment for years, Deputy Mayor Kim said how to ensure that equal treatment is still under study. “What my job is here today … is to hear the concerns and the real lived experiences of this neighborhood .. especially what you dealt with when Nickelsville was here, and taking that into consideration as we continue to evolve these rules.” She said they have asked the former DPD to come up with a “director’s rule.”

Second question:

Who will the lot be serving?

Plumacher said, “Our intention is to identify vehicle residents that are already in a neighborhood and point those individuals to the safe lot identified for that location.”

Kim said, “Because these are city-owned, city establishments, we do feel like there is a difference in experience that we want to ensure as a city. With the Nickelsville encampment – the city had no role in that. … The safe lots and legal encampments are going to be different.”

How? She listed a few ways:

*Dealing with police – there had been confusion in the past, she acknowledged. Because these are city sanctioned, “there’s going to be a clear line of understanding that our officers have.” There will be no question about who’s to be evicted, who’s a tenant, etc. “We have heard from neighborhoods and providers over the years that there was just a lot of confusion. The other difference with RVs … the city is actually permitting these safe lots … there will be conditions on the permit. We do feel that in taking this dramatic step in authorizing and establishing these safe lots, we do feel we are going to have a very active role in regulating, monitoring, ensuring a very different experience for neighborhoods as well as the operators of these sites.”

Third question involved transportation:

Route 131 isn’t eligible for city transit funding, she said, continuing, “but the city is investing heavily in the Delridge corridor …” That drew the first audience outbursts, saying that’s not the same thing, the “Delridge corridor” doesn’t go by the camp.

A bit later, she brought it up again, saying she’ll try to get a more-comprehensive explanation, because support for transportation and transit needs are part of what will be offered to campers, “one of the more intensive support services we are going to provide.”

Fourth question:

The previous encampment was “draining” on police resources – what’s the plan now? SW Precinct commander Capt. Davis said they’re expecting a smoother relationship, and “stay tuned – you’re going to learn things as we learn them.”

Fifth question:

What about unsanctioned satellite encampments popping up nearby (an issue during Nickelsville’s tenure)? Who will be accountable? Who do citizens contact?

Plumacher: If folks are asked to leave these sites, that will be done in concert with a service provider, who will be making a referral to services for those individuals – if they’ve made a referral to a vehicle to be at this location, they generally know who those individuals are. .. The Human Services Department will be responsible for what happens in these lots, working in close contact with SPD and service providers. She said that the experience with the two sanctioned encampments has been good.

Kim said, “So the question is about unauthorized encampments that may grow around it. … We have a whole set of protocols around unauthorized encampments.” She said the city is trying to “balance” what it’s doing, “I don’t know if we’re getting it perfect … we’re trying to figure out how we balance the incredible growth and explosion we have seen on our streets, right of ways, greenbelts, neighborhoods … to be sure public safety and health concerns are being met. We are having situations and have had situations. The mayor spoke today about how 66 homeless individuals died last year because they were in unsafe locations or situations as a function of being homeless … What we are trying to do as a city with our unauthorized encampments is, we don’t have the ability to go in and provide services to (every one of them) … but we are trying to prioritize situations where we can go in …” She said there was a cleanup near “The Jungle,” on this day after five people were shot there.

“So how do we initiate a complaint-driven response?” asked HPAC’s Carolyn Stauffer. “Call the city customer service bureau at 684-CITY, and a complaint is logged into the system,” said Plumacher. “It will be directed to the department that owns the response.” Her office gets 10-15 complaints a week.

In the front row, Councilmember Lisa Herbold asked if they would consider walkthroughs to spot problems proactively rather than just awaiting complaints.

Plumacher went into details about how eviction will be different – under the old unauthorized encampment, the city attorney said there was a landlord/tenant relationship for the people who had been there. Now, the city will have the right to ask anyone to leave. “Service providers will be on site working with these individuals.”

Back to the greenbelt, McBride asked if Parks would be able to enforce what’s going on (it’s right across the street) . “Will the city take responsibility for protecting its largest greenbelt?”

Kim: “This is a new role for the city to play. … If unauthorized encampments get really really large and raise havoc … the Police Department could do walkthroughs, more visibility, more engagement. It is our commitment and expectations that it is not that we permit these safe lots and encampments and just walk away.”

Capt. Davis said they were doing walkthroughs in the greenbelt back in the Nickelsville days. “We can only ask again that you partner with us.”

Note: At the end of this story is the text of a document that was sent to HPAC with some questions answered in advance.

At 7:43 pm, the open microphone was offered for people with questions or concerns. McBride stressed that this is the beginning of a conversation. A line started to form quickly.

First, an attendee asked: What more can we do to help (the people who will be living there)?

Plumacher – We need to wait for more direction from our providers. Kim added that advocacy at the state and federal level would be excellent.

Next, a person who described themselves as formerly homeless and now a homeowner had a comment about the process. “We are asked for (feedback) for so many things before a decision is made … but in this case, a decision was made, and there’s a disconnect in how the community was treated. I feel it is disrespectful.”

After that – this particular site’s history was brought up again by Highland Park resident Laura Drake: “What I don’t understand, this piece of property, why has it always been considered for things that don’t really benefit this neighborhood? We fought hard against the jail (back in 2008). Then a homeless camp, now an RV camp, why is this area not important? Why can’t it be like affordable housing down there? Why does it have to be a homeless camp or a jail or a tent city?”

Deputy Mayor Kim: “Clearly there’s a lot of frustration in this room.” She says the mayor is frustrated too “and would like to have better answers. … He is equally frustrated by the 66 deaths, the violence, the assaults, for people who don’t have safer options … This is a crisis in our city.” She spoke of broken systems – foster care, with a high percentage of youth who become homeless … “In the frustration, we should try to figure out how we have common bonds, common solutions.”

Another resident spoke about her love for the community and said she remains concerned about how long the “safe lot” will be in operation. “What happens after six months?” She also suggested space on Harbor Island that would seem to have room for hundreds of cars and RVs. She expressed concern about trash piles. Plumacher promised trash and waste will be kept under control.

Amanda Kay Helmick, a community advocate and former City Council candidate, spoke next. By putting homeless people in this area, “you’re putting them on a fringe …” away from services She thinks the Southwest Teen Life Center would be a great place. Lots of access, big lot, close to all sorts of facilities, services, shops. “West Seattle loves people. If anything happens in this community, we want to help. Give us the opportunity to do that.” The room applauds.

Next, a person who says rent control and more affordable housing would help, to get at the root cause. She also asks for a public-health approach to crime in eastern West Seattle. HP had asked for LEAD, for example. “If it’s not LEAD, could we have another public-health response to that?” She then elaborated on Metro Route 131’s problems. More applause.

Kim explained that the mayor considers this “interim crisis intervention,” Kim says. “Housing affordability is absolutely critical.” She mentions five-digit application for housing help.

The next speaker says data will help them make the arguments they need to make. Plumacher says “That’s a very good point. … We bsolutely need to track absolutely everything that is going on.”

Next, Kay Kirkpatrick from Highland Park Improvement Club asks “more factual questions … Are these vehicles that will be coming and going or will they be vehicles that don’t move very well.” Plumacher: “I imagine it’ll be a mix of both.” They will offer transportation vouchers and discounted mechanical work.

She then asks about mobile showering units. “If you’re not providing sewer for the RV, how is that going to work?” Plumacher says most vehicles don’t have operable systems so they’ll require they be dumped before arriving and that they use the facilities on site, they will have a handwashing station as well.

It was suggested here that an “Urban Rest Stop” might be vital for the lot.

This is when things got personal.

Kim said that her family experienced homelessness when she was a child. She choked up. Plumacher said she has a family member experiencing homelessness, noting that she chose her occupation for various reasons. “It’s very difficult for people living on the fringes of society to get back in.” She says the provider for the “safe lot” has an 85 percent success rate at getting people into housing, and that they are working to make homelessness brief, rare, and one-time.

That’s when Kim observed, “You guys have been so much nicer than the Ballard neighborhood.” Room cheers. Kim says, “I know people are still frustrated, still angry, so disregard my crying.”

Kirkpatrick then points out that a couple of vehicles are already near the site. Plumacher says service providers are engaging with “folks who are already here.”

Emotions continued as Curtis stepped to the microphone, mostly just to say his brother was homeless for 22 years.

Next speaker: “Thank you – I’m really glad that the mayor and the city are doing something, that we’re not ignoring these people.” This is an emergency, he continued; “we need to own this .. If this was a flood, we’d be down there filling sandbags.” He wants to be sure they have more ideas of what they can do. “As a community, as a group, we can mount some kind of program …” maybe to subsidize one family? That would be a place to start, he says.

Helmick returns to the microphone: “There’s 100,000 people on the peninsula, and going back to the Urban Rest Stop, we don’t have anything like that. Homeless people are already living here.”

Dan Sherman from Pacific Plumbing Supply with 70 employees across the street says he’s concerned about the crime rate. “We already have a problem. .. fences are cut, fuel lines are cut, tools are stolen, lots of break-ins.” He’s also concerned about big rodents in the area. “I don’t think anybody wants this problem, and we all need to be part of the solution.”

He then asked, as another attendee had earlier – what happens at six months and one day? Kim says she doesn’t know yet. “The safe lots are being established as a function of the mayor’s state of emergency,” and she says there will be “follow-on legislation.”

It is our intent not to go beyond that,” regarding a year, she said, but they can’t guarantee that.

Question: “Who owns the lot?”

The parking lot is city property, says Plumacher. The adjacent lot is WSDOT.

Next speaker says she’s encouraged by the compassion in the room. She says homelessness is a global problem, and women are often homeless because of domestic violence. And many people who are homeless drug users are doing it to self-medicate because the world treats them so poorly, won’t acknowledge their existence, she adds

What’s the city’s commitment to communicate? asks the next speaker.

Kim says communication is not a requirement under the emergency terms but they can work out with LIHI “what the communication commitment is going to be with this neighborhood.” Maybe an update at monthly HPAC meetings?

Herbold stands up and says the city council asked for every-two-weeks reports on the emergency and that includes collecting reports on neighborhood impacts.

Next questioner wants to know where he can get information and reports on his own time, not going to meetings. He also wonders about extra officers to be assigned to the community.

Plumacher says the data they get won’t really translate to a dashboard but, HSD is putting together “a comprehensive analysis of the Seattle emergency” and a report that will be going to the council soon.

If more resources are needed, we will get them, promised Capt. Davis.

Virginia Gleason of SPD spoke for the first time. “There’s some floating resources that get moved around the city according to need.” She says they’re trying to gather as much data on neighborhood impacts from authorized encampments, etc. They get anecdotal info. She says that a lot of what bothers neighborhoods is not a crime. “What we’re trying to compare it to, in the East Precinct, when Capt. Davis was there, we had a managed encampment, and we were monitoring what was going on around it, comparing to what was going on in other neighborhoods.”

She says again that old Nickelsville is not a good comparison … because it was unauthorized.

McBride brings up, “We’re moving a disadvantaged community into a community that’s traditionally been underserved. “When it comes down to it, it’s going to be the people in this room who are going to roll up their sleeves and work with this.”

Just be aware of the history on the ground, the history in this place. These people are strong. They have done it by themselves. “For a long time,” added a voice.

McBride asksed for a few words from Herbold. She said the first “Nickelsville” somewhat taught the city how to handle an encampment. “I’m optimistic but I do feel strongly that its going to require a lot of ongoing communication … When I came to Delridge District Council, I had just heard about this the day before … The emergency order didn’t have many details.” She said she got additions into it including electricity. She said she appreciates that the community wants to help people who are HERE and hurting. She says that the reports of what’s going on, for those in the lot and the ‘hood, are what’s going to determine whether there’s a renewal, and “is also going to drive future decisions.”

“I want to thank Highland Park for being awesome,” McBride concluded.

ADDENDUM: HPAC sent the city questions in advance, and received this document with some of the answers (mostly redundant to what we’ve reported above but in case you want to see them):

City of Seattle responses to HPAC questions for January 27th, 2016 meeting

1. Who will be running the safe lot?

LIHI will be the operator of the Safe Lot, Compass will be providing Case Management and housing placement services at the site.

2. How long will this site function as a “safe lot?”

The permit allows for the site to be in operation for up to 6 months, with the possibility of a 6-month
extension. Similar to the encampment legislation.

3. How long will each vehicle be allowed to stay?

We are working with LIHI and Compass to develop the operational protocols at the site, it is expected there will be a time limit for length of stay at the sites but it has not been determined.

4. Will there be a spot set up to take donations and post a list of what is needed?

The Safe Lot will take donations, we are working with Seattle University to help develop a donation system that will help facilitate a more orderly donation system. LIHI as the operator will also have the ability to organize donations at the site.

5. Will the city provide a dumpster or trash collection services for the site?

Trash collection will be the responsibility of LIHI, the site operator. The City of Seattle will provide funding for trash collection. The operator will also work with clients to educate those on the site with effective waste management practices.

6. How will the city be handling extra dumping by those not living in the safe lot?

Garbage services are provided at the site and trash will be removed from the site. The City’s general response for illegal dumping is managed by each department that owns public property.

7. Will the city provide toilets, water, and electricity to the site?

The operator will be responsible for toilets and water. We are trying to determine how to bring electricity to the site.

8. Will the fire department have regular safety inspections of the site?

As part of the operations plan submitted by the Operator they must ensure that fire, health and safety precautions are met at the lot, and must demonstrate an understanding of how to prepare and resolve such issues.

9. Will the Department of Health have regular site visits?

As part of the operations plan submitted by the operator they must ensure that public health precautions are met at the lot, and must demonstrate an understanding of how to prepare and resolve such issues.

10. Will the police be allowed to enforce the rules of the safe lot as spelled out by the Operator and by the current encampment legislation?

Yes, however legislation does not yet exist for safe lots – it will be forthcoming and will largely mirror the conditions laid out in the sanctioned encampment legislation.

11. Will open fires be permitted?


12. Will the former Nickelsville site remain fenced?


13. Will services be provided to the campers to help them find shelter? if those services are not accepted by the campers, what is the city’s plan?

Services will be provided to individuals and families in their vehicles by Compass Housing Alliance. The goal of this intervention is to move people toward housing, not necessarily shelter. We are working with Compass and LIHI to develop length of stay protocols, and plans for individuals who are not showing progress toward a housing goal.

14. Will statistics be gathered on who is staying there?

All individuals and families entering the Safe Lots will be entered into the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). This system collects a level of demographic and service information.

15. Will a Community Advisory Committee be set up, as defined in the current legislation?

Yes, this will be the responsibility of the Safe Lot Operator.

16. Can you give a brief run-down on the site selection criteria the City has for sanctioned encampments? (zoning requirements, buffer requirements, bus stop/transportation requirements, requirements for location of services, etc…) Also, can you please provide a map for the meeting of eligible land that was part of the encampment legislation? I think it just showed the land not zoned residential, but it would be helpful to know which land within the eligible zoning is City-owned.

Attached is a memo from DPD outlining the selection process for potential encampment sites as well as a document outlining eligibility criteria for sanctioned encampment sites.

Attached is a map of the recommended sites – 7 total were recommended as eligible sites that met zoning and eligibility criteria. This does not include sites that are privately-owned or that may come online in the future as eligible City-owned properties.

(WSB note: We don’t have these attachments but will work to get them and add links to them.)

WHAT’S NEXT: We’re still awaiting details such as exactly when the lot will open, and will continue to follow up and report on discussions in the weeks and months ahead.

ADDED THURSDAY 12:46 PM: In response to a question in comments, we checked on the site’s ownership. It’s not SPU, as stated in the meeting – Julie Moore from the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department says the Ballard site is owned by SPU. This one is, as originally announced, state-owned, with the city negotiating to buy it.

44 Replies to "VIDEO: Emotional, informational Highland Park Action Committee conversation on RV 'safe lot'"

  • Alan January 28, 2016 (12:25 am)

    Thank you for the excellent coverage. I work Wednesday evenings, so I am always unable to attend these meetings. Your coverage makes me feel as if I were there. Actually, since I am hard of hearing, I probably get more out of your coverage!

  • dsa January 28, 2016 (1:32 am)

    Polite yes, but remember nice guys finish last.

  • Joe Szilagyi January 28, 2016 (6:31 am)

    Did the Mayor’s staff basically sidestep the question of why the Highland Park Nickelsville site is being used again for this purpose, as opposed to other possible identified sites in other more affluent neighborhoods?

    • KM January 28, 2016 (8:46 am)

      That stood out to me too while reading this.  The answer seemed to really not address the question at all, and then brought up emotional points.

  • Joe Szilagyi January 28, 2016 (6:35 am)

    The city staff also said the #131 bus line that goes by the site cannot get increased spending and service (lawfully it can’t under Prop 1 as too much of it is outside the city), but they certainly could increase it out of general funding if the Mayor wanted to do that.

  • Joe Szilagyi January 28, 2016 (6:37 am)

    I’m proud that West Seattle was so polite, courteous, and gracious at this meeting, compared to the rabid frenzy and histrionics seen from a number of community members from Magnolia to north of the Ship Canal. 

    • LarryB January 28, 2016 (8:19 am)

      I’m pleased with this as well, but not as fast to criticize the folks in Ballard and Magnolia. I lived in Ballard for seven years, and moved here six months ago. The situation there really deteriorated over the last 18 months or so. Ballard Commons Park became unusable. The entire area under the Ballard Bridge, behind Trader Joe’s, over to the Fred Meyer and north across Leary Way became really unsafe, with lots of open drug dealing, open-air bicycle chop shops and aggressive solicitation by prostitutes – not to mention the needles. There are problems here, but it’s not as concentrated or as visible – the most obtrusive hot spots are around the bus stops south of Westwood Village, and on Spokane under the bridge. I think we should cut our neighbors to the north some slack, and set an example for how to make this work.

      • Hebi January 28, 2016 (12:05 pm)

        LarryB, it’s not as “concentrated or visible” anymore. I live in Highland Park, on the hill above where the Nickelsville encampment was for nearly three years, and nearly all of the problems you mention were present here. The greenbelt above the encampment was deemed unsafe by the police department and residents were encouraged to stay away. That’s why we are so concerned about the potential return of the associated problems. And, please don’t take remarks about  Ballard personally. Had you been at the meeting, you would have seen that this comment was a lighthearted moment during a serious discussion.

  • Pile-o-Rox January 28, 2016 (7:09 am)

    This meeting reinforces the notion that the city really has not plan or forethought. Feel good band aid half-solutions, yes; but a real plan? Not even close.If you are going to open sanctioned lots, you need to impose conditions (mandatory job search, addiction counseling, etc.) and provide services. If you either refuse to move to the sanctioned lot or comply with the conditions and take advantage of the services being offered, your vehicle will be impounded.  Simply put, there’s no excuse. The homeless RV population is being given a golden opportunity and to allow some (likely the bad actors) to just keep on with their illegal camping in parallel is just ridiculous and spineless. Time to be a grown up folks. You are not going to fix people who don’t want to help themselves – and those people need to move along.  To those people who are looking for a way out – PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY. You are lucky to live in one of the most progressive, giving cities in the country. Accept the help, and one day you may be the one giving back.

    • LarryB January 28, 2016 (8:09 am)

      You’re right, the city doesn’t have a plan, but at least they’ve acknowledged that there’s a problem and they’re starting to do something. Will they get everything right? Of course not. Can it make a difference? I sincerely hope so. I also hope that they develop a workable plan, and set themselves a deadline to do it by.I’ve been reminding myself that the homeless are people with a wide variety of problems, and could use some kindness in their lives. Getting help shouldn’t come with a bunch of punitive conditions. The key is figuring out the kind and degree of problems that each person has and setting expectations accordingly.

      • Pile-o-Rox January 28, 2016 (4:13 pm)

        As noted in many other comments, this problem was recognized a long time ago, and we have already spent upwards of a Billion dollars on it over the last decade plus. To what end? I agree that getting help shouldn’t come with a bunch of punitive conditions. But no one is suggesting punitive conditions. What we are suggesting is accountability to ensure that our efforts go toward people that are at least trying to improve their condition.  Otherwise, you may as well just flush your money down the toilet (like we’ve been doing for a decade). To be short, blunt, and truthful – if you are going to make an effort to improve your condition, we will support and empower you, and walk hand-in-hand with you to help you succeed; if you are not going to make that effort, get the hell out of here, we don’t want you. Being an indiscriminate “homeless sanctuary” means nothing but inheriting and welcoming other people’s  problems.  In case its not obvious from our schools, roads, and the like – we have enough of our own already.  

    • sam-c January 28, 2016 (8:58 am)

      I agree; there seems to be a lot of unanswered questions.  I see references to a 6 month timeline, with the possibility of the 6 month extension. is that primarily a timeline for the safe lot itself or the safe lot and everyone there?  Ie, are there any requirements or expectations that the people living there will be actively seeking and pursuing resources for transitional type of housing etc, so that they can move off the safe lot and make room for other homeless to move in and take their place?   Without some sort of enforced deadlines/ timelines, I don’t see a likelihood for progress for the homeless to better situation.I saw this question, but there’s no answer: “3. How long will each vehicle be allowed to stay?We are working with LIHI and Compass to develop the operational protocols at the site, it is expected there will be a time limit for length of stay at the sites but it has not been determined.”

  • Gatewood Rob January 28, 2016 (7:48 am)

    Is LIHI for or non-profit?  I want to get on board with the solution, any solution, as the current situation is a disaster (thus the “state” of emergency).  While I think the safe lot is a noble idea, the vehicles that are going to be packed in there, of questionable condition, is another disaster waiting to happen.  Aside from the sanitation issues, fuel(gasoline, propane, etc), oil and coolant stores will be far to close together (unless drained).  These vehicles would likely not pass any type of inspection if the state required one.  Admission to the lot should be one vehicle, that is immediately confiscated and crushed, upon which a small unit (that is LIHI’s deal is, isn’t it) is assigned.  I think their estimation of how many vehicles will fit on that lot is way over-estimated, too.  Will only vehicles registered in the city be admitted, or, now that the word is out, from all over the nation…?  And that goes for the entire kinder, accepting, city…  Can’t wait to see the map of available area in the city too.

  • Melissa January 28, 2016 (8:02 am)

    Joe thanks for your comments about the 131.  I know that the 120 received special consideration and received extra service on proposition one.  Do you know how that happened?If the reason is due to the amount of ridership, metro has made it in un-rideable due to its unreliability, lack of service, and serious safety concerns. When buses have been past capacity and  I asked for a bigger bus, I was told that I would have to just take an earlier bus.  This meant I got there an hour early to ensure I got to work on time.  I no longer ride this bus.Lastly, if the Mayor truly cared about the homeless  and those livingon the margins he would put the 131 back through the heart of White Center.  Requiring someone to take 2 or 3 buses just to access basic services like food and medicine is unjust.Mayor Murray said in his speech that he would convene all public partners to better align outcomes. I am asking that he does this.  

    • Mickymse January 28, 2016 (9:13 am)

      Metro’s Route 120 has the tenth highest ridership in the ENTIRE CITY. That is why it received some additional funding under Prop 1. Currently, it runs about every 7 minutes during peak hours. That said, you can’t really run any bigger buses — unless it switches to the Rapid Ride buses with less seating — and you can’t run much faster. The route is very badly affected by rush hour traffic between the Bridge and Downtown.

  • Hebi January 28, 2016 (8:07 am)

    I attended the meeting last night and, like Joe, was very proud of my neighbors’ thoughtful, informed, passionate, and compassionate responses and questions for the city representatives. I hope the city understands that we have worked hard to make Highland Park  a livable community and, although we have compassion for those in need, will not tolerate another situation that puts that in jeopardy. We are nicer than Ballard, but we are also strong, proud, and committed to this neighborhood.

  • Marty2 January 28, 2016 (8:21 am)

    Would WSB consider interviewing some of the people that will be using this safe lot and following up with how they use the services provided by the City to assist them in finding permanent shelter, etc.?

  • Tough love January 28, 2016 (8:26 am)

    Yes, it is nice to hear that we have a caring city and a caring neighborhood. We have to make sure that we are not enabling though. I do not see a clear plan in this. There needs to be clearly spelled out plans to help these people to overcome homelessness and get out of the lot. I am not as optimistic as others that believe all the homeless in our city are just down on their luck and are needing 6 months to get back on their feet… I know that many of the RV and tent residents throughout the city are drug addicts and/or have poor mental health. What do we do with those homeless? How do we say we will help those that are willing to be helped, and for those that are not willing, to get the heck out of our city? I do not want our taxes to be in the business of enabling those that want to be enabled and plan on living off of our city’s kindness.

    • enough January 28, 2016 (2:20 pm)

      Yes, this is how I feel about it. 

  • sam-c January 28, 2016 (8:44 am)

    there is a photo caption:  “(WSB photo of newly added canvas-covered fencing at the future lot, Wednesday afternoon)” but it’s a photo of the panel.Can you add the photo of the fencing? Thanks!

  • Mickymse January 28, 2016 (8:50 am)

    @WSB, Missing link: “At DNDC last week (WSB coverage here)”

    • WSB January 28, 2016 (8:55 am)


  • bolo January 28, 2016 (9:42 am)

    @ Gatewood Rob:
    Looks like LIHI is a non-profit organization.

  • Hebi January 28, 2016 (10:10 am)

    One question that was not answered correctly by the panel last night, and I have seen improperly answered several times: who owns this site? According to the King County Assessors site, this property is not owned by the city, but rather by the state.

    • WSB January 28, 2016 (10:31 am)

      Back in the encampment days, the entire site – paved lot and unpaved (which the city reiterates isn’t part of this) – was described as including city and state ownership. In the first announcement, the city said it was buying the paved lot from the state. I have a question out to the city department that handles property, to find out about the status. – TR

      • Alan January 28, 2016 (10:49 am)

        Can you please also ask about their intended use of the property? I assume they are not buying it just so that they can host RVs for six months.

  • Marty January 28, 2016 (10:27 am)

    What will make the motor home people move to the lot? Seems like the current laws would allow them to say “I ain’t moving ” and stay where they are. If I lived in one of the rigs parked on Alki ave/Harbor ave I certainty would not be in a big hurry to move. 

    • enough January 28, 2016 (2:18 pm)

      I agree. They have a million dollar view. Why move or find a job, etc?

  • Kay K January 28, 2016 (10:34 am)

    Actually service on the #131 route could be vastly improved by spitting out the #26 portion of the run. As is the bus gets to deal with both north end and south end traffic- making it horribly unreliable, especially in the evenings. This is how the #125 is so quick and reliable, runs from WS to Downtown and back only. Then it gets into the cycle of “low ridership” because it is so bad that no one will use it, hence the ridership drops, and Metro then looks at it as no one wanting to use the route and drops the service level. For many on the east side of this area, the #120 is a last resort bus, it’s way too far to walk for the elderly and disabled, too dangerous for commuters to walk home from  up dark hillclimb stairs at night to use except in snow situations. Additionally, the #131 no longer even serves people wanting to go south to White Center to shop, they have to transfer to even do that. For the campers being moved to the lot, the nearest grocery store without a transfer involved will be the Grocery Outlet on 4th Ave S. by the stadiums. Not known for particularly health fare.

  • RJB January 28, 2016 (10:39 am)

    Stuck at home with flu or would’ve attended the meeting. It seems like the City’s approach to the homeless crisis is evolving and offering more dignified solutions. While a lot of good questions received vague answers that’s probably because there’s no blueprint for how to handle this problem. There isn’t a city anywhere that has a solution to homelessness. I’m willing to be patient with leadership to see how this new attemp works out. 

  • KBear January 28, 2016 (10:40 am)

    All these questions about “Will we require all the campers to move there?” or “What about the ones who don’t want to be helped” or “Are we enabling them?” are NOT reasons for doing nothing or for holding up this plan. The assumption that most homeless people are freeloaders who make bad choices is invalid and insulting. We can do better than this.

    • Marty January 28, 2016 (11:12 am)

      If you are talking about my question I believe it is a valid question even if you do not. There are serious problems in the north end and those residents deserve some answers! 

    • Pile-o-Rox January 28, 2016 (4:22 pm)

      They are not reasons for holding up the plan, they should be PART OF THE PLAN. Otherwise, we will be another Billion dollars down the road and in the same place.There are real easy answer to all the questions: “Will we require all the campers to move there?”:  YES. Absent lack of space, if you are living in a vehicle outside of the sanctioned area, it will be impounded.  “What about the ones who don’t want to be helped”:  They will not be allowed at the sanctioned space unless they enroll and participate in social programs (job search, addiction, etc.). “Are we enabling them?”: NO. Not if we adhere to the above.  “The assumption that most homeless people are freeloaders who make bad choices is invalid and insulting.” Agreed. As is the assumption that  there aren’t a bunch of freeloading criminals amongst the homeless.  Thus, we should treat them according to their actions as they relate to their willingness to enroll and participate in the above-mentioned social programs.    

  • Chris January 28, 2016 (10:44 am)

    This is what ONE BILLION dollars spent in a decade gets you.  The city/county plan, called the “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness,” has spent about 1 billion in ten years in attempting to address the homelessnes issue.  Yet the problem remains and is WORSE.  No other metro region in the country has spent more on affordable/transitional housing that this one, as well as spent more money (per capita) that this region, yet here we are–talking about RV lots and how the issue is at “emergency levels.” Most people, like myself, are compassionate and caring and willing to chip in with my tax dollars to help as needed.  But you have to stop for a second and think critically about what is working and what is not.  CLEARLY, throwing more money at this problem will likely not result in the desired outcomes.  I feel like this is the war on drugs, where an insane amount of money is poured into various programs, with little gained.  What is also clear, is that Seattle leadership is out of their realm, and have no true programmatic solution(s) to address this issue.  Mayor Murry’s press conference all but confirmed this.

    • enough January 28, 2016 (2:19 pm)

      Amen X 10 !

    • West Seattle Hipster January 28, 2016 (3:20 pm)

      Very good factual points made.  One billion dollars and the housing crisis has only worsened.  I would be interested in seeing an independent audit on where exactly that one billion went. . Seattle clearly needs better leadership.   

  • flimflam January 28, 2016 (5:13 pm)

    and now the mayor wants to DOUBLE a housing levy set to expire to pay for this “state of emergency”. I guess i’ll have to get a 2nd job to pay my property taxes.

  • dcn January 28, 2016 (5:26 pm)

    Amanda KH’s idea of having the SW Athletic Complex host a homeless encampment is terrible. Do we really want a homeless camp next door to a high school, a middle school, a teen life center, and a location that hosts athletic events for high school students from all over King County several times a week? Everyone who has lived or worked near a homeless encampment seems to agree that it will draw increased drug traffic and crime to that area. That parking lot is also full several nights per week for events at the complex, so it is not an unused space.  I agree that the proposed space near the old Nickelsville has horrible access to amenities and is a poor location for an encampment. But putting one next to schools and on a facility used daily by middle and high school students is not a good alternative. 

    • Sam-c January 29, 2016 (9:11 am)

      Isn’t there a pre-school, daycare there too? I agree terrible idea.

    • Mickymse January 29, 2016 (9:50 am)

      Actually, I have heard MULTIPLE people living near sanctioned encampments say that their presence was an improvement to the neighborhood. Ask the neighbors around 22nd & Cherry, for instance… And do you have any understanding of the neighborhood you live in? Not only are there homeless people already living around that schools and children, but there are also sex offenders, folks struggling with addiction, and those suffering from mental illness. The biggest threat to those kids is their fellow students.

  • Gatewood Rob February 1, 2016 (12:01 am)

    @various reply’s.  I looked at the site.  I couldn’t find the words “non or not for profit” anywhere.  Usually it is the first words or in the header.  Maybe it is.  But as several responses have stated, a BILLION dollars spent, and the city is worse off than before.  Of course we’re enabling. Of course there are mental issues.  Of course both the mayor and city council are out of their elements.  Their campaigns are paid for by the entities that are the antithesis to low income/homeless.  Developers. To think they give a rip is laughable.  Ask them to pay for the privilege of building multi-unit developments via increased fees targeted to these issues (or roads, infrastructure, etc.), and someone isn’t getting elected again.  But, I digress.  Why should we expect crooks, theives and outright career cronies to correct the problem.  This isn’t as rampant in Bellevue or Mercer Island or Medina or Kirkland, even Renton (need to see the one night map), is it?  What is their secret?  No services…?

  • Gatewood Rob February 1, 2016 (6:17 am)

    Thanks, wsb.

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