FOLLOWUP: Where next week’s encampment cleanup east of Myers Way will, and won’t, go

(Photo added Wednesday)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While it’s far from the only area with unauthorized campers, the area east of Myers Way has drawn some of the loudest complaints, at community meetings and elsewhere. And tonight we know more about the plan for a “partial cleanup” that was mentioned during Sunday’s meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for Camp Second Chance, the city-sanctioned encampment on the west side of Myers Way.

To get details, we talked today with William Lemke, the city’s spokesperson for encampment and cleanup-related issues. He says the city and WSDOT are partnering on the cleanup, which will involve state-owned right-of-way land on the slope over Highway 509, behind the Church of Latter-Day Saints site, *not* the area “up on the plateau” or “the grotto.” That’s because “slide risk is a primary concern,” Lemke explained – including slide risk to Highway 509 as well as to people living in the area. “There’s a drainage system back there that WSDOT” is especially concerned about.

The cleanup is currently set for Wednesday-Thursday, March 14th and 15th. The people who are currently camping in the target area will be notified this week by the city Navigation Team about the cleanup plan. City rules say that before an encampment is cleared, everyone living there has to be offered a place to go, as well as storage for their belongings; Lemke didn’t have an exact count, though he said he had toured the site recently, but believes it’s unlikely that more than a half-dozen or so people are living on the slope.

For the cleanup work, the heavy equipment and crews will enter the site via Highway 509; there’s a gated service road. Some tents and structures will be removed. The rest of the area east of Myers Way likely will be addressed sometime in the future, Lemke says, but there’s no deadline or estimate for that. Why not do it now? For one, he said, “every encampment we remove has to fit into our prioritization criteria” (see the city rules and procedures here) and for two, they might not have enough room in shelters or authorized encampments for everyone living in that area now. Might some from the area be referred to nearby Camp Second Chance, if it has space? Possibly, Lemke said, though the city’s primary referral for campers recently has been the sanctioned encampment at Licton Springs (which is not drug-and-alcohol-free; Camp Second Chance is).

Once the cleanup is completed, Lemke says, they’ll have a report with how many people were moved into shelter and what was put into storage, which the city offers to campers.

P.S. If the cleanup is carried out as scheduled, it will be just days before the March 20th community meeting that’s just been announced (as first reported here Sunday) on whether to renew Camp Second Chance‘s permit for a second year. The encampments on the east side of Myers Way have no official affiliation with the sanctioned camp, but some neighbors believe C2C’s presence makes the area a draw for unauthorized campers.

31 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Where next week's encampment cleanup east of Myers Way will, and won't, go"

  • Alki resident March 6, 2018 (7:28 pm)

    Slide risk? Really? So essentially the homeless could potentially keep piling up their trash say the next ten years and nothing with come of it because of slide risk.

    • WSB March 6, 2018 (7:35 pm)

      I believe trash and unauthorized structures/tents are feared to be potential contributors to slide risk, as Lemke explained it.

    • uncle loco March 6, 2018 (8:35 pm)

      It’s probably considered a hazmat site now and will most likely will need to be excavated. that’s where the slide risk comes in.

      • WSB March 6, 2018 (8:47 pm)

        The slide risk is what they believe exists *now* on the site and are expecting to remediate. And no, it’s not a hazmat site. That would require more than two days of work.

  • Question Authority March 6, 2018 (9:07 pm)

    WSDOT has probably come up with the slide risk scenario story because all of the trash is serving as an impervious area and it’s not allowing the rain water to absorb into the hillside –  and now for my next joke.  More likely they’ve allowed this to go on so long that residents have spoken and to tolerate it any longer is just an embarrassment for their inaction.

  • Question Authority March 6, 2018 (9:16 pm)

    Also the “plateau or grotto” is out of sight out of mind and so WSDOT can say, hey you can’t see it from the highway therefore it’s not our problem.  Problem is it’s still WSDOT property so deal with it.

  • steve March 6, 2018 (10:57 pm)

    I was just wondering how much it will cost the city to “store” all of that garbage?  Yes, I know, that’s somebody’s home.  But isn’t it a requirement that when there’s an eviction, the landlord, or in this case the city,  must pay to store their belongings, or something like that.

  • flimflam March 7, 2018 (5:58 am)

    quite a coincidence that the cleanup is so close to the meeting announcing an extension for another year for the encampment.

  • Marianne March 7, 2018 (6:32 am)

    I hope Animal Control goes in too.  There are a handful (maybe more if kittens have been born) of cats living in at least one of those campsites below the church.

  • gorillita March 7, 2018 (7:58 am)

    I don’t understand:  if the rule is that they can’t evacuate a site until everyone has a place to go, isn’t that sort of an oxymoron?  If they had places to go, they would not be there.  

    • WSB March 7, 2018 (8:21 am)

      Explained on page 5 of the rules, which are linked from the page I’ve linked above (but for convenience, the direct link to the doc is below). Also explains the prioritization for removal of encampments and what’s considered belongings, for those who asked upthread …

    • KBear March 7, 2018 (9:35 am)

      No, Gorillita, it’s definitely not an oxymoron. I think you mean “paradox”.

  • waikikigirl March 7, 2018 (9:49 am)

    @KBEAR, are you a teacher, no wait maybe my boss who likes to point out when anyone makes an honest mistake!!!

  • MJ March 7, 2018 (11:57 am)

    I was taught everyone needs to be treated equally.

    Littering is against the law, where are the fines?  If I were to litter, I would get fined.  Frankly, I am frustrated with the double standard.   

    Camping on public property in Seattle is illegal, its time to end the coddling and strictly enforce the law.  Enough already!

  • Just Curious March 7, 2018 (12:02 pm)

    When the campers have all been relocated and the cleanup is complete, is the plan to keep the area free and clear of campers, especially considering the slide risk?  I mean, is there going to be a concerted effort to keep the area clear

    • WSB March 7, 2018 (12:34 pm)

      I asked if there was a plan for fencing; Lemke didn’t think so but referred me back to WSDOT, and I haven’t asked them yet.

  • KT March 7, 2018 (6:37 pm)

    Let’s play whack-a-mole…..

  • 1994 March 7, 2018 (8:22 pm)

    Borrowing a term read elsewhere, the  Homeless Industrial Complex thrives on.

    The amount of money Seattle & King Co spend on homeless services is nuts.

  • Liz Giba March 7, 2018 (8:41 pm)

    Please post this report on WCN. Thanks.

  • Ws res March 7, 2018 (8:42 pm)

    I agree with 1994. Our city has become a mess. 

  • 56bricks March 8, 2018 (1:16 pm)

    But, it’s my right to live for free while the publice provides all services and amenities. It’s your duty to provide all that for free. After all, it’s FREE so it can’t be costing others THEIR hard earned dollars,right? I mean, it’s FREE! You OWE me. After the last idiot/judge ruling I’m seriously thinking about dumping the whole mortgage/rent/business owner responsibility charade,buying an absolutely POS motorhome and parking it in a choice view spot(preferably in front of mayor/cc homes), throwing the “It’s my home” tag on it and spend my money on vacations in the south of France. And since I’ll also be closing my business I’ll no longer be paying taxes and will claim indigency so my health insurance and everything else will be FREE! FREE!FREE!FREE! Ya gotta love it. Who said ya gotta plan and save for retirement was dead wrong. Just move to Seattle. Hell, we’ll probably pay your relocation costs. But remember to vote D. Even if you’re dead. End. (For now)

    • Jort March 8, 2018 (2:04 pm)

      Nothing is stopping you from living under a tarp outside, if you are really that jealous of that lifestyle.

      Lucky for you, you have the choice to live homeless. Many of these folks don’t.

      But, by all means, don’t let anybody get in the way of you deciding to throw away your prosperity and wealth just because you’re so mad that people are living “for free” in the woods.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident March 8, 2018 (2:00 pm)

    So everyone has to be “offered a place to go.” What happens if they don’t want to go???

    Will the city/county/state arrest them for trespassing?

    Last year at an encampment across from Goodwill on Dearborn, 95 or so people, were offered services from the Navigation Team and many other organizations. Want to know how many took them up on it???

    SIX, yes 6 people. These people don’t want help

    “1994” in the last 10 years, the city and county have spent well over $1,000,000,000 on the “homeless.”

    Last year the city, county, state AND private organizations combined to spend over $1,000,000,000!!!

    The “Homeless Industrial Complex” is the most successful business in the city/count and state. They take money given to them and produce NOTHING or help VERY few people.

    What needs to happen is for EVERYONE to DEMAND a FULL accounting of where, who, what and when received tax funds to aid the homeless. I can tell you this, SHARE/LIHI have not provided ANY records of accounting for how much they received and/or spent. 

  • ltfd March 9, 2018 (8:12 am)

    There is no hope for the homeless situation. In the past decade, with all of the policies the city & county put in place, with all of the monies collected & spent, with all of the departments & organizations working to solve the problem, with all of the declarations made, the situation continues to deteriorate. It will take two high profile “bad” incidents (murders, sex trafficking, etc), in close succession, for the pendulum to swing the other way.

  • Frustrated March 9, 2018 (11:18 am)

    Sadly, there have been plenty of documented “bad” incidents and still, the pendulum continues on the current trajectory. Thank the city council, the ACLU, the mayor(S), and all of the Seattle voters who think it is okay for the young to be trafficked, business owners to lose their lively hoods, and tax payers to fill the pockets of service providers who are doing nothing to better the situation for anyone, especially the homeless. 697 homeless deaths over five years? But, hey, let’s distract everyone with the hope of an NHL team! Obviously, we need a complete overhaul of the city government.

  • WhiteCenter March 12, 2018 (8:07 am)

    I drive on Meyers Way every day. Every time I do I see drug deals, abandoned cars(stolen), and solicitation of prostitution. The amount of garbage and waste there is ruining the eco system and environment. I have seen multiple knife fights and poor sick animals running loose. The police refuse to do anything about it because they say they have no jurisdiction. It’s a lawless land. It is inexcusable that the city is allowing this level of destruction. We need a zero tolerance policy. Throwing money at the problem isn’t helping. 

    No one has the legal right to destroy public land or create a public heath risk by leaving hypodermic needles and drugs in the open. No one has the right to take over public spaces like sidewalks and parks. 

    People do not have the right to destroy wetlands or pollute the environment with dangerous propane tanks strewn about. No one has the right to trespass on private property, leaving property owners with thousands of dollars in damages.”

  • SARGE March 15, 2018 (11:55 am)

    I have to wonder what percentage of the Seattle Metro transient homeless population is simply here due to the easy access to drugs. If Seattle took a hard line against the sale, distribution and even possession heroin, crack and meth like southern states I’m willing to bet our homeless population would drastically decrease. Those not here for the hard drugs who do want to work and find permanent housing would stand a much better chance.

  • Bill March 15, 2018 (1:18 pm)

    I saw Q13 Tues. night report on this encampment and it was a total whitewash… they showed a couple sites up top that were very clean and never showed the garbage avalanches you see from the highway. Thats – Fake News-

    I have yet to see any video of the army of trucks and back hoes, bulldozers and colorful hazmat suits they were wearing.

    • WSB March 15, 2018 (1:33 pm)

      Please don’t use the term “fake news” – it’s an incorrect and undeserved insult to journalists including our counterparts in local TV news, who work hard too. The only outlets it REALLY does apply to is the actual fake “clickbait” sites out there, but don’t get me started. In terms of real news coverage, there are often circumstances you’d know nothing about. Such as: Accessibility for photography. Regarding the trucks, backhoes, hazmat suits, is all this visible from your house? We’d be happy to come over for photos. We asked if there would be an opportunity to be escorted onto the slope for photography and, no, there wasn’t; I’m sure they asked the same thing. We haven’t had time to get over there yet for a 509 driveby because it’s been a ridiculously busy two days on other stories and we did our part breaking the news that this was happening (the only reason that TV station even knew about it, as to date there’s been no official city announcement, and I was the only journalist at the recent C2CCAC meeting where it was first discussed) … Previously, given the slope access issue, all we had been able to do was shoot while driving by (and riskily, as it required slowing down a bit on a freeway), and as someone pointed out, that doesn’t “do it justice.” Or, do you have photos? – TR

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