Camp Second Chance: Highland Park Action Committee opposes extension; plus, what happened at CAC’s monthly meeting

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.

20 Replies to "Camp Second Chance: Highland Park Action Committee opposes extension; plus, what happened at CAC's monthly meeting"

  • Patricia Washington March 4, 2019 (4:07 pm)

    At a meeting at Fauntleroy  Church recently a gentleman from Green Peace talked about the land C2C is situated on. And a declaration of their organization backing the Camp. I will say that I have lived in Highland Park for 10 years and am mystified how they hosted Nicklesville. Those homeless people moved in , illegally, on their own. Not invited. I remember the Camp and the support they got was from Union Gospel Mission and private citizens. I do not remember the HPCA being actively involved, if they were they didn’t help much with the conditions. The camp was under water when the tide was In and it was rainy due to the location near the marshes. In fact I don’t remember this group being formed at that time. Now that the unsanctioned campers and vehicles have moved away the violence has dramatically dropped and the shootings recently were not connected in any way to the Camp2Chance. This camp is more towards Top Hat not Highland Park. I’m somewhat ashamed of Highland Park. 

    • Paul March 4, 2019 (6:32 pm)

      I think that you have captured the timeline correctly but I am perplexed that you think that HPAC should have done more to improve conditions at the camp. From personal exerience, I can tell you that many in our community do try to do more to improve conditions., but are fed up with the rest of the city no doing there fair share. HP is a working class community with far fewer resource than our surrounding neighbors, who has been accepting of this camp, but gets s–t on when it comes to asking the city and community to step up. Let me ask you this, why should HP  be one of few communities that are expected to shoulder the burden? Where are our neighbors in Admital, Fauntelory, Sunshire Heigh, and other neighborhood outside of west seattle. Here is the truth, other neighborhood can afford to organize (and in some cases pay fancy lawyers) to move these camps on. Don’t believe me? Just Google it.  Ive got an idea, let move the camp to Hiawatha. Chances are that would last about 2 seconds. HP is being taken advantage of!

  • flimflam March 4, 2019 (4:27 pm)

    regardless of what kind of neighbor the camp has been, i think the city made a mistake in sanctioning this camp after they broke locks and just set up as they pleased.i’m not heartless, i just think it sets a bad precedent and it makes it seem like its ok to take over a property without consent, permission, asking, etc.also, sanctioned camps have a two year limit as i recall.

  • Mark Schletty March 4, 2019 (5:18 pm)

    Whether or not the camp is a problem for the neighborhood is irrelevant. The only real issue is whether or not the City will keeps its word to neighborhoods. The City gave absolute  assurances that these camps would only be allowed to stay for 2 years. Citizens relied on that assurance. If the City reneges on its firm commitment on C2C it cannot be trusted on any other commitments it makes, on any issue. No matter where you stand on C2C, the only thing anyone should be watching is whether or not the City will keep its word. It is a matter of honor for the City.

    • flimflam March 4, 2019 (6:05 pm)

      the sanctioned camp in ballard on market street overstayed its two year limit also, because the next location wasn’t “ready” yet – ow in wallingford.the city needs, at the very least, to abide by its own word on these camps. they are not without consequence or burden for neighborhoods.can i just decide to not pay my property taxes on time because its inconvenient? can a restaurant decide that certain standards and codes are burdensome and ignore them?this is simple accountability and keeping of your word.

  • Buttercup March 4, 2019 (6:30 pm)

    I pray that neither one of you are ever homeless. If they shut down this camp do you have an idea where they can be moved to? They will once again be under bridges, in parks,  or maybe on the boulevard in front of your house. This crisis got a lit worse since the city set this up( under a different administration by the way) and common sense should prevail. When did the city ever keep their promises ? Now we have to get this mess cleaned up and putting them back on the street is a step backwards. Do either one of you keep all your promises and intentions? Sounds like your panties are in a legalistic knot. Lighten up on the hardness in your hearts?

    • Mark Schletty March 4, 2019 (7:11 pm)

      Buttercup— yes I do keep all of my promises. My word is my bond. If I’m not sure I will be able or willing to honor a promise I don’t make the promise in the first place. A promise is not to be made lightly, and that should apply to the City as well. Ethics do matter to some of us.

    • Mickymse March 6, 2019 (12:25 pm)

      The City would not evict the camp… It would relocate it to a location in another neighborhood.

  • HP Mom March 4, 2019 (7:01 pm)

    The issue that I have personally experienced is the unsanctioned camps that sprouts around the C2C.  As an example, take a look at the 1st exit off of 1st avenue bridge SB.  This section is littered with unsanctioned homeless camps.  HP has had enough, other parts of West Seattle should take their turn.

  • AmandaK March 4, 2019 (7:46 pm)

    A very well reasoned letter to the City in regards to what Highland Park agreed to, and what the City agreed to.  I attended a lot of those meetings, and residents were supportive of C2C, but HPAC is right, it’s time to honor the agreements made.  

  • TM7302 March 4, 2019 (8:08 pm)

    Despite continual requests from HPAC since 2016 for enforcement action against unsanctioned encampments and RVs, it was only 3 months ago that the greenbelt between SR-509 and Myers Way was cleared, including removal of 190 tons of trash.”
    Seattle reminds me of the early 1970’s Keep America Beautiful campaign… a litter strewn America.  Almost 50 years later and we’re no better.  Thank you HPAC for trying to keep Seattle beautiful.

  • WSResident March 4, 2019 (9:29 pm)

    Exempting encampments from certain state environmental regulations? Really, Joe Nguyen? This reduction of standards for the “special chosen ones” creates a divided system of government whereby some people are exempt from laws and order, while the taxpayers have to cough up more to make up the difference. I’m getting sick of this crap from the “progressive” left.Also, Camp Second Chance should never have been allowed to stay in the first place. That disgraced mayor Ed Murray allowed it should tell you everything you need to know about the politics of that permitting process. Further, just because bleeding-hearts with more money than sense in Fauntleroy or other neighborhoods can rally support from Greenpeace, or can peddle a documentary from a better-off advocate who lives in the Junction, doesn’t mean that blue collar, working class neighborhoods like Highland Park should get steamrolled by Seattle’s Homeless Industry, Inc. this whole mess all started in Highland Park in 2008 with Nickelsville and never ended!

  • Marcia woyak efange March 5, 2019 (9:24 am)

    you know honestly, no one here can say with proof they have been aburden, nor have they ever  been a burden, because they have always been a community, of peace, un like any other encampment, this one is making history, it’s the number one rated shelter to go too. and  i bet your community has more crime in it then there, partly because the leadership fully understands your pain. and they are citizens too. you got to admit this model is not your shelters of the past they are very unique. and very respectable. unlike what you are speaking of from 2008. anyway this is the real deal !

  • top hat resident March 5, 2019 (10:02 am)

    I don’t see any harm in extending the camp for a couple of more years at Myers way. HPAC has never even been to visit C2C mush less host and support the encampment. C2C has been a very positive influence in the area and has even been a first responder in saving the green belt from burning down last August from the unsanctioned campers that use to live along the green belt. HPAC should stop complaining about the length of time C2C has been on Myers way and focus on what positive ways C2C can benefit the neighborhood and the community as well as the homeless that live n the area.

    • White Center Resident March 5, 2019 (10:54 am)

      I understand the concerns of our neighbors, we as a community are often ignored, but I do not see that as a reason to lash out against the less fortunate. I myself believe we should be thinking, how can we do the most good without alienating people with legitimate concerns. The folks at camp second chance are seeking to end the cycle of homelessness, and it’s the best example I have seen of that. 

  • wider vision March 5, 2019 (11:32 am)

    I’ve been to C2C, and I can tell you that if you care about the homeless problem in Seattle, there are lessons to be learned from the way this camp is operating. Residents are empowered, feel better about themselves, take care and pride in their space, operate by strict community guidelines, are building relationships with one another and the wider community, and slowly but surely, are finding affordable permanent housing as it becomes available (a larger problem, of course). I’m sorry that Highland Park and the surrounding area have experienced the city and county treating them with less regard than other areas, and I do believe that classism and power (at the very least) are at play, but sweeping C2C wouldn’t be an action that would change that treatment; it would be an action that participates in the same classism area residents have experienced themselves. I’d love to see C2C stay and the city show communities willing to host such well-run sanctuaries (“encampment” doesn’t begin to describe C2C) extra attention and gratitude for their willingness to do something in this state of emergency on homelessness.    

  • Buttercup March 5, 2019 (1:10 pm)

    Thankyou for all the positive support for 2nd Chance Camp. All the negative sound so much like me,me,me or us,us us complaining about the city. No compassion or care. Just whining.

  • anonyme March 6, 2019 (6:41 am)

    If CSC is so comfy, caring, and community-minded, what is the incentive to leave?  We now have three sets of laws: one for the rich, one for the homeless, and one for the law-abiding taxpayers who pick up the tab for everyone else.  Time to end this debacle.

  • Willow March 7, 2019 (6:15 pm)

    I’m really disappointed to see this response. There are significant positive changes taking place on Myers Way and within the parcels which are a direct result of the collaborative conversations and efforts of community members, outreach and service agencies, and city/county offices – centered around making Camp Second Chance safe and successful.  Those of us that have been doing that work will continue to do so as long as the camp is there, and I formally invite the members of HPAC to join us.  Be part of the active solutions taking place there, or at least be supportive of the community members and agencies doing the work.  If allowed to stay in place, we have a unique opportunity to continue to transform this once abandoned gravel lot into a place of hope and beauty for the entire community.

  • John Walling March 8, 2019 (7:05 pm)

    Nimbys vs Humanitarians: I chose to be humanitarian. CSC is a valued neighbor. We at Arrowhead Gardens are committed to helping it’s residents gain dignity and reach their potential.

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