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.