FOLLOWUP: Encampment on Myers Way Parcels can’t stay, says city

While we’re working on our full report about tonight’s Find It, Fix It Community Walk in the Westwood/Roxhill area (short 1st report here): We took advantage of the presence of multiple city department heads at that event to get information about a few unrelated issues elsewhere in West Seattle. First followup: The Camp Second Chance encampment’s move to the Myers Way Parcels, after almost a week on private land across the street. We had sent an inquiry to the media liaisons at the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (which manages city-owned land like this) earlier in the day, asking if the camp was authorized and if not, whether it would be allowed to stay. They didn’t reply, so when we saw FAS director Fred Podesta at tonight’s event, we asked him directly. He told us he had stopped to check out the camp personally while on his way to the Find It, Fix It Walk. He confirmed that the camp does not have permission to be on city land, so it will eventually be given notice and then swept if it doesn’t move of its own accord. What the timeline for that would be, Podesta doesn’t yet know – “it’s not the only unauthorized encampment (on city land),” he noted. But he said the city will do what it can to help campers find services and to help the camp find another site.

23 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Encampment on Myers Way Parcels can't stay, says city"

  • flimflam July 26, 2016 (5:54 am)

    man. its ALMOST as if the city is making this up as they go along. oh wait. that is exactly what the city is doing. sigh.

  • JoB July 26, 2016 (7:06 am)

    ???? this encampment is not on city land.

    • WSB July 26, 2016 (7:53 am)

      Yes, it is, since their weekend move across Myers.

  • Jeff July 26, 2016 (8:43 am)

    Sounds like they will give the issue the exact urgency it receives everywhere else in town.

    • AMD July 26, 2016 (9:05 am)

      If no crimes are being committed, I would hope it receives lower priority than actual criminals.  

      I still have yet to hear where everyone who wants the camp “swept” would like these folks to live instead.  Personally I find it a waste of resources to constantly chase the homeless from one area to another until they magically find housing.

      • HappyOnAlki July 26, 2016 (11:39 am)

        I’m with AMD — priorities, people, priorities.

        And you could think a minute about what it would mean to become homeless, as well . . . .

  • Ulrick July 26, 2016 (8:56 am)

    As a 20 year resident of Myers Way I can confirm that as of Saturday 7-23-16 at about 10am in the morning the homeless camp began their move onto Seattle City property and finished later in the afternoon.

  • Ben Calot July 26, 2016 (9:17 am)

    Thanks for the update.

    Keep up the awesome reporting.

  • Marianne July 26, 2016 (9:24 am)

    So first the group moves onto private property without permission and then onto gated and  locked city property without permission? Pretty gutsy if you ask me.

    • Neal Lampi August 3, 2016 (7:03 am)

      Survival in and of itself takes guts.  Have you ever been pressed into the corner with nothing but the clothes on your back?

  • skeeter July 26, 2016 (10:01 am)

    Fantastic reporting.  Thank you WSB.


  • HBB July 26, 2016 (1:54 pm)

    WSB, any comment from Seattle Greenspaces Coalition on this? 

    • WSB July 26, 2016 (2:02 pm)

      Haven’t received any statements from them or anyone else. The only department or organization with an official current role regarding this property is the city, via FAS.

  • JoB July 26, 2016 (6:13 pm)

    i didn’t know they had moved over the weekend…

  • John Watson July 27, 2016 (3:33 pm)

    One reason that the neighborhood is concerned about unauthorized campers in the area is that according to a report by the sheriff’s office, property crime in the area of King County adjacent to the Myers Way encampments went up 30% to 50% (depending on the crime category) since last year.   The encampments are in the Seattle City Limits, but the “target-rich environment” for property crime is right next door, in King County.  Once again, we’re not lumping all homeless people together as criminals.  But there is a significant number of people in those encampments who are not victims – they prey on vulnerable fellow-campers as well as the communities around them.

     We are just tired of Seattle outsourcing its crime problem to King County.

    • WSB July 27, 2016 (4:17 pm)

      And as a journalist who covers news on both sides of the line, I can tell you some allege it’s the other way around, but whomever alleges whatever, the blame game isn’t particularly productive. Meantime, we’ve seen and heard law enforcement cooperate on both sides of the line. Do you have a link for your new stats? We cover NHUAC, which always has stats briefings from KCSO, but they’re not meeting in the summer, so I haven’t seen the newest stats. – TR

      • John Watson July 27, 2016 (4:29 pm)

        I’m sure you can request the stats from the Sheriff’s department.  They were handed out as printed charts at the last NHUAC meeting. 

        At the same meeting, and previous ones, our Sheriff’s representatives have lamented that they are *not* getting sufficient cooperation from Seattle police.

        No, blame is not particularly productive; but accepting responsibility *is*. 

      • John Watson July 27, 2016 (4:48 pm)

        … and, to clarify:

        WSB, Perhaps you were reading my original  comment to imply that Seattle *police* are somehow pushing crime across the city line.  My fault for being too cute with the metaphor.  My concern is a broader one: that Seattle’s failure to adequately address the homeless crisis (despite the “state of emergency”) affects our adjacent neighborhood, but the effects, such as a rise in property crime, are not noticed in *Seattle* if the stats only show up in King County.  This is very convenient for Seattle government if their goal is to make a problem less apparent — which is very different from actually solving the problem.

         Not succinct, but hopefully clearer. 

  • Ben Calot July 27, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    As a resident of Myers Wy, I have to agree with John Watson’s assessment of our area (although it may not hold true in other areas of the city).

    On Myers Wy there are virtually no homes or businesses on the Seattle side of the line, thus no victims, and no crime stats. There are also virtually no homeless on the KC side of the line on Myers. All of the homes and businesses are on the KC side of the line, and if you call Seattle to report a crime in Seattle’s territory the dispatchers are quick to ask you your address (not the address of the crime), and transfer you to KC when you tell them you live in KC (even though the crimes happened in Seattle).

    I’ve had to be very insistent that the crime happened in Seattle, and that SPD needs to respond. They usually make me wait on the Seattle side of the border and frequently never show up. I’ve waited 3 hours and then had dispatch call me back to ask if I was still waiting on the side of the road (I have a recording of the call back).

    On the other hand, I’ve had great experiences with KC Sheriff. They’ve been responsive and effective in helping to keep our neighborhood clean. You can actually tell where Seattle starts as you drive north on Myers because KCSO takes care of business and SPD does not, the border is obvious.

    As I said previously, this might not hold true everywhere in Seattle, but on Myers the flow of crime is clearly coming from Seattle into KC.

  • Willow July 28, 2016 (11:38 am)

    Hello all,

    As one of the residents closest to this location and thus most impacted by activities there, I want to share my support of the camp. With camp management and organizational support we can facilitate a cooperative and safe relationship between the housed and un-housed communities.  

    Camp Second Chance is a great example of the self-managed process that should be supported.  Since they came to the area, I have visited them several times and find them to be responsible, accountable and organized.  Due to this, I and several other local neighbors and extended friends are committed to embracing and helping support them in their immediate need for shelter, sustenance, safety and other basic needs  while the city and county tackle the large and lengthy task of determining long term answers to the challenges, causes and cures of homelessness in our area.  There is great work being done in that direction.  Until we get further into some of those processes, we still need to address the crisis of where these people will eat, sleep and exist tonight, and where they will be able to leave their personal belongings tomorrow when they try to access services, find jobs, find homes, take showers.

    Supported and sanctioned managed camps provide an immediate temporary solution.  This camp in this space does not add any financial burden to the city or county, and has already improved the livability in the community by deterring criminal activity like illegal dumping, drug dealing and prostitution in the space they now occupy, as well as some of the surrounding area. 

    In addition to this improved situation, I think that we have an opportunity to create a cooperative relationship between the camp, local residents, environmental organizations, human services providers, grassroots groups, the city and the county to create and maintain a vibrant and usable green space in place of a vacant, un-maintained, off-limits , dangerous surplus property.

    I have already begun conversations and engagement with several interested groups – some of which are ready and waiting to take steps into action.  These include resources for alternative energy (solar, wind), urban agriculture, environmental restoration, temporary/mobile shelter and infrastructure construction, etc.

    We have an opportunity in this space that is unique, and I believe we can bring together the resources to make this vision happen – all we need is the city’s agreement and permission.
  • John Watson July 28, 2016 (3:32 pm)

    Thanks, Willow, for the communication.  Can you share with us which interested groups you are conversing and engaging with so that others from the neighborhood can participate?  It’s good for everyone to have the benefit of a range of views.

  • WC Resident July 28, 2016 (11:38 pm)

    I grew up on the Seattle side of Roxbury and seven years ago bought a home on the Unincorporated King County side. I’ve had cars vandalized and things stolen living on both sides of the line and that was long before there was a homeless crisis, so while it’s convenient for some to point the finger at the recent influx of homeless people to a specific area, the crime was already here. Property crime in general is on the rise everywhere, not just here and now because there’s a homeless person to blame. Being homeless is not a crime nor does it mean they are all criminals.

    • John Watson August 1, 2016 (3:24 pm)

      WC Resident, I concur.  And I think if you read my original post (way, way back up the line) I did make the distinction that homelessness is not synonymous with criminality.  I also made the point that our recent uptick in crime (30%-50%) was *since last year.*  Certainly crime is up all over, but that is a big jump. 

      Bottom line, we get nowhere by labeling homeless folks as all criminals or all victims.

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