By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Before deciding on whether to extend Camp Second Chance‘s stay on the Myers Way Parcels, the city has been waiting to see what position the Highland Park Action Committee takes. That’s what Lisa Gustaveson of the Human Services Department told the C2C Community Advisory Committee on Sunday.
24 hours later, HPAC has just announced where it stands. The group says 2 years and 7 months – the time that’s elapsed since C2C set up on the city-owned greenspace, initially without authorization – is long enough. “(W)e look forward to seeing a swift plan for Camp Second Chance’s relocation by the end of the month,” concludes the letter just made public by HPAC.
The letter (which you can read in its entirety here) recaps not only the community-engagement process that the group went through – including this “listening session” in January – but also Highland Park’s history, going back more than a decade, of “hosting” encampments, dating to the original “Nickelsville” camp in 2008. HPAC’s letter notes, “There is a long documented history of the City either being unable or unwilling to address the safety concerns” raised by encampments in the area. The group also underscores, “We did not come to this decision easily. We know that homelessness is an urgent issue that affects our neighbors and our communities.”
Now that HPAC has taken its stand, we’re checking with the city regarding its next step on a decision regarding C2C’s location. City rules currently say authorized encampments have to move after two years maximum at a site.
COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING: Our notes from this short Sunday afternoon meeting are after the jump:
UPDATES: The meeting began with updates from those in attendance. CAC chair Willow Fulton said the committee and the White Center Community Development Association co-presented a recent screening of “Trickle Down Town.” The documentary by West Seattleite Tomasz Biernacki will be shown at 7 pm Thursday (March 7th) at Arrowhead Gardens (9200 2nd SW) … She added that the area seems to be “quiet” aside from suspected gunfire along Myers Way recently. She called it in and reported that Seattle Police responded quickly to check the area. She said that land stewardship “across the way” will get started soon.
HSD’s Gustaveson (as mentioned above) provided an update on the permit-renewal process. She noted that the city has attended recent community meetings. She also said that C2C operator LIHI is now working with Catholic Community Services to get use of a shower trailer they’re not currently using and move it to C2C. The camp has had an ongoing issue with a shortage of showers, since currently they’ve just had one organization visiting with a shower trailer. HSD is finding funding – Gustaveson didn’t have figures on the cost – to cover it; first step is for LIHI and CCS to work out a Memorandum of Understanding to work out the details.
Cinda Stenger of Alki UCC and the Westside Interfaith Network says two more tiny houses have been complete but they’re working on how to get them out from under the construction tent on the camp site so people can move in. 16 tents remain to be replaced and they’re hoping to raise $60,000 “to make that happen.” She also mentioned precedent set elsewhere in the city by another church involving a church leasing the land on which a camp is hosted, so WIN is exploring that as a possibility for C2C.
Grace Stiller of the CAC said she is talking with Jon Jainga of Seattle Parks regarding removing invasives and replacing with native plants in the Myers Way area. She is looking at city grant funds – one up to $5,000, one up to $25,000 – that could fund something the camp does, providing stipends to campers for some kind of work. The camp would need a fiscal sponsor, though, since it’s not a standalone 501(c)(3) – camo operator LIHI might be able to help with that or Weed Warriors, a nonprofit with which Stiller is involved, could be a sponsor of a smaller grant.
Eric Davis, co-founder and site coordinator, then provided the camp overview update: 51 residents now, 35 men and 16 women. Two C2C residents are moving out, headed into permanent housing, this week. He also talked about an invitation to the state Capitol by 34th Dist. State Sen. Joe Nguyen two weeks ago, to explain how the camp works and offer support for Nguyen’s bill that would exempt encampments from certain state environmental regulations. (Here’s a recent Tacoma News-Tribune story about it.) He added that the camp also called in the suspected gunfire that Fulton had mentioned, and that they had reported an RV parked nearby, and that SPD Parking Enforcement came out to handle it.
He also announced an open house/celebration planned at the camp March 17th, 1-4 pm, all welcome. “The past month has been very very historical for us – so much love and support … so much going on that is positive – I want to encourage people to come out and get a piece of that … When we were (at the Capitol), we were treated like royalty …” He said camp reps were invited on short notice and Sen. Nguyen “said we did a great job.”
ANNOUNCEMENT: 7 pm Thursday (March 7th) there’s a showing of “Trickle Down Town” – not a big auditorium but there might be an available seat or two – at Arrowhead Gardens. The documentary’s director/producer Tomasz Biernacki, a West Seattle resident, will be there for Q&A.
LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Starting with this meeting, the CAC is opening its meetings with an acknowledgment that “we are on unceded ancestral lands of the Duwamish people – a people who are still here …” An increasing number of local meetings and events begin this way.
NEXT MEETING: The CAC meets on first Sundays – next one April 7th – 2 pm in the community room at Arrowhead Gardens. You can read minutes of past meetings here; we’ve covered most meetings and those reports are archived here.