While checking out something unrelated, we spotted that line of city vehicles parked in the coned-of outside uphill lane of Highland Park Way, west of W. Marginal Way SW. Looked to us like an encampment cleanup – nowhere on the hill to safely stop and ask, but we’ve since confirmed it with city homelessness-response spokesperson Will Lemke, who replied to our inquiry:
The Navigation Team is removing an unmanaged encampment in that area. We estimate there to be less than a dozen living structures down in the greenbelt. The encampment is being removed for public health and safety concerns. Individuals access the area by crossing the roadway, which presents hazards to both people on foot and vehicles. Further, there is a lot of garbage, waste, and debris present within the encampment. As you know, extending emergency services to this location would be challenging as well. Lastly — and this usually is the case with encampments in the area — the natural environment has been negatively impacted. Navigation Team field coordinators and Parks crews have observed trees being cut down. The team has outreach workers on site for the clean-up.
The vehicles we saw were primarily Seattle Police and Seattle Parks, with one King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, plus a backhoe. The area’s had unauthorized camping for years, dating all the way back to the days of the original Nickelsville on the other side of West Marginal.
SIDE NOTE: The advisory Board of Park Commissioners has a briefing on “SPR’s Role in Encampment Cleanup” on its agenda for tomorrow night (PDF).