West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Will Camp Second Chance stay on the Myers Way Parcels past next spring?
That was a major topic at this month’s meeting of the C2C Community Advisory Committee. The city-sanctioned encampment is continuing to transition into a “tiny-house village,” even as it approaches the end of its second official year at 9701 Myers Way S.
Was it the Seahawks? Was it the sunshine? Or was it the lack of controversy? Not much of a turnout today for the monthly Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee meeting, which as a result ran just half an hour. Three committee members – chair Willow Fulton, Cinda Stenger, Judi Carr – plus C2C site coordinator Eric Davis, and one newly assigned rep from the city Human Services Department, Nissa Limbach.
CAMP STATUS UPDATE: Davis provided the latest toplines:
-46 residents (down two from last month, and they could take in two more people, Davis said)
-Now up to 36 tiny houses, 8 more to be completed, “only 11 tents left” (the people in those tents will move into the tiny houses when they’re ready)
-Asked if anyone had moved into permanent housing this month, Davis said 1 person left recently to move back with family members with whom he had reconnected – otherwise, he said, case manager Richard Horne is frustrated by the shortage of affordable housing
SINCE THE CLEANUP: Both Fulton – an area resident – and Davis said that the recently cleared unsanctioned encampment on the east side of Myers Way does not appear to have returned, and area issues have lessened. Some illegal dumping, but “pretty quiet overall,” said Fulton. Carr noted that a vehicle “with a cooler on top of it” has been at the end of the driveway at Arrowhead Gardens (where she lives, and where the CAC meets) and she wonders if someone’s camping in it. Committee discussion ensued regarding reporting it if it’s been there longer than 72 hours.
ALKI UCC: Stenger says the on-site building of donation-funded tiny houses will be on hold once five current platforms/houses are done because they need someplace to safely build the rest that’s out of the rain. Got about 1,000 feet of space? Secure so tools and materials can be left there? Can you spare it for a month or two? Contact the church. One more note: The church plans a holiday concert December 16th, and proceeds will benefit C2C and the West Seattle Helpline.
ABOUT THE FUTURE: No members of the public for comment/questions, so we asked the city rep Limbach one: The second sanctioned year for the camp expires in less than half a year. So far, that’s the limit by city law. One other encampment whose second year expires in April has already been announced as destined for closure. When will the process of determining this camp’s future begin? Reply: The city is “discussing options” and also realizing that this site has shortcomings – the absence of water and sewer service, for example. But she said she’d look into where things stand.
NEXT MEETING: December 2nd, 2 pm, community room at Arrowhead Gardens (9200 2nd SW).
(Edited Monday morning to add name of city’s rep)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though city-sanctioned Camp Second Chance is on the west side of Myers Way, illegal camping on the east side has long been a concern of the C2C Community Advisory Committee, whose meeting today included new info about the recent cleanup in that area.
On hand in the community room at Arrowhead Gardens were committee chair Willow Fulton and members Judi Carr, Grace Stiller, Cinda Stenger, and Aaron Garcia. Camp operator LIHI was represented by Josh Castle and on-site case manager Richard Horne as well as C2C co-founder and camp manager Eric Davis. The city had extra representatives at the meeting to talk about the cleanup and what’s next for the area – August Drake-Ericson, manager of the Navigation Team; Lisa Gustaveson of the Human Services Department; Patrick Merriam and Jon Jainga of Seattle Parks. Also there to talk about the city’s efforts to get more affordable housing built was Dan Foley of the Seattle Office of Housing.
CAMP REPORT: Davis started with a short, emotional tribute to a founding C2C member who he said died recently of cancer. Then the current numbers:
If you have questions about the recent east-side cleanup along Myers Way, it’s one of the topics to be addressed at tomorrow’s meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for the city-sanctioned encampment on the west side of the road, Camp Second Chance. Here’s the full announcement:
The next meeting of the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee will be Sunday, October 7 at 2:00 pm, Arrowhead Gardens Community Room, 9200 2nd Ave SW.
This month, in addition to our usual updates and stats from the camp, we will have guests joining us from the City of Seattle for a Q & A on housing and to help answer the question: What is the City doing to build new affordable housing quickly?
Dan Foley, Office of Housing
Jesseca Brand, Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA)
Lisa Gustaveson, Human Services Department
We will also be receiving an update on the recent cleanup activities and future plans for the area on the east side of Myers Way.
All are welcome. The housing-related discussion is in response to questions asked by attendees at a previous meeting. (Our September coverage of the C2CCAC is here.)
As reported in our coverage of Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s Highland Park Action Committee appearance last night, the city says its cleanup of the east side of Myers Way – which, as noted here Tuesday night, involved dozens of city crews – only took three days. This formal notification is from the Southwest Precinct:
The SW Precinct would like to inform our community that the Myers Way encampment has officially been dismantled. Hundreds of pounds of trash and debris was removed and the encampment was entirely cleared out.
Although the individuals living there were offered many services that the City of Seattle has to offer, a majority of the encampment’s residents declined these offers.
The SW Precinct is working diligently to track the displacement of these individuals, and we encourage our community to stay vigilant and aware. Remember to report crime and suspicious behavior by calling 911, secure your homes and outbuildings by locking doors and windows, and get involved with your community via Block Watch and other community organizations.
Southwest Precinct crime-prevention coordinator Jennifer Danner, who sent the announcement, also reminds you that she and the precinct offer “free safety/security assessments” – e-mail her at email@example.com to find out more.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
For the fourth time in two weeks, the big headline in a community-meeting update from Southwest Precinct police leadership was the Myers Way east-side cleanup – now under way.
This time, the update was at the first West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting since the group’s summer hiatus (most community groups skip at least a month of meetings in the summer). The meeting also included a briefing on Mental Health First Aid training. But first:
POLICE BRIEFING: Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis said they’re trying to “not spend a lot of time reintroducing ourselves to old problems … there’s a lot of frustration with problems that pop up over and over again.” He said RVs and encampments are a recurring concern and insisted “we go after them very vigorously until we get them gone.” He said they have been “dismantling that monstrosity,” referring to the illegal encampment on Myers Way where a major city-led cleanup is in its second day – we went by again this afternoon and saw 29 city vehicles large and small, including SPD’s Mobile Precinct.
1:01 PM: As reported here three times in the past two weeks, Southwest Precinct police leadership have said a city cleanup of the east side of Myers Way – a longtime site of illegal camping – was imminent. And today, the city confirms it’s getting under way. We’ll be going there to check soon on what exactly is happening so far; in the meantime, the city has published an update saying the cleanup is “to reduce negative public health and safety impacts stemming from the encampment and to allow the City of Seattle to launch an effort to restore the forest and natural environment.” The update adds:
The encampment is large, covering over 20 acres of forest with multiple living structures and abandoned vehicles. At one point this year, the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team estimated there to be 50-100 people living unsheltered in Myers Way. The population has declined over the course of the year.
Impacts from the encampment have ranged from the presence of human waste and public safety issues, to garbage and illegal dumping impacting Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) drainage systems. A partial clean-up of the area occurred earlier this year to alleviate potential SR-509 flooding concerns.
Given the scale and logistical challenges presented by this encampment, this large-scale removal required months of planning and resource marshaling to clear this forested area. The Navigation Team and other outreach providers have been working over the last months to connect people living unsheltered to the resources and shelter required under City rules. Following the removal and clean-up of the encampment, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) will implement a multi-month activation process to restore the forest and encourage more regular recreational use of the greenbelt.
… The Navigation Team has been conducting repeated outreach to people living unsheltered in the encampment since the beginning of the year. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) trash bag pilot has also been active on site (SPU dispenses and collects trash bags from occupants), however participation from encampment residents has been inconsistent and deteriorated over the year.
The Navigation Team designed an intensive outreach effort ahead of the removal, focusing nearly all outreach and shelter resources to the encampment during the month of September to help people move to safer spaces prior to the clean-up. This outreach effort includes bringing in multiple partner agencies to complement and expand the team’s efforts.
The residents of this encampment have been difficult to reach and connect to services. To date, the team has made over 250 contacts to people living in Myers Way, connecting less than 10 people to shelter.
However, as part of the intensive outreach leading up to the clean-up, the team successfully referred a mother and her 2 children to a tiny house village last week (September 10). Additionally, the team successfully moved a second young family out of Myers Way and into another tiny house village the week prior to the clean-up.
Written and verbal notice of the removal has been provided to all people living in the encampment. The encampment will received additional written notice 72 hours ahead of the clean-up, per City protocols.
Because of the advance outreach, some residents have voluntarily left the encampment to unknown destinations.
The City is working with multiple agencies to conduct the clean-up, including Parks, Seattle Department of Transportation, WSDOT, SPU, Finance and Administrative Services, Seattle Human Services, Seattle Police Department (SPD), and Seattle City Light (SCL).
Beginning September 24, the Navigation Team will lead initial clean-up efforts. The team will remove living structures and provide storage of belongings for encampment occupants. The team will continue to offer services and shelter during the clean-up. This effort will likely last the entire week. During the clean-up, other agencies will begin laying the groundwork for future activation by restoring access roads and preparing the property for work trailers.
Following the clean-up, Parks will implement a temporary multi-month activation effort to restore the forest and encourage more regular recreational use of the area.
This activation includes a daily staffing of the site, overseen by City staff, contractors, and volunteers. Workers will be on site every day to restore hillsides prone to landslides, removing brush and debris, and replanting appropriate plants and trees to the area. During this time, Parks will explore other uses of the site such as a dog park area and recreation trails.
With improved access and walking trails, SPD and Parks will be able to better monitor the area during the restoration process and beyond. The activation phase is anticipated to last from 3-6 months.
This area is separate from the city-sanctioned encampment Camp Second Chance on the west side of Myers Way, but some community members have said the sanctioned camp’s presence has led to more camping nearby. This new cleanup starts just two days before Mayor Jenny Durkan is scheduled to speak to the Highland Park Action Committee, which has voiced repeated concerns about Myers Way, as have other groups including the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.
Myers Way sweep/cleanup zone is extensive. pic.twitter.com/Duh90z4ApE
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 24, 2018
4:23 PM: Just back from the scene. As our video (recorded from the passenger seat while headed northbound) shows, part of Myers Way is coned off while crews from multiple city departments work at multiple sites. Just before we headed over, we heard officers dispatched after these marijuana plants were found:
We talked briefly with Sgt. Eric Zerr, who’s long been working with the city Navigation Team (we first met him during preparations for a sweep by the West Seattle Bridge a year and a half ago). He expects this phase of the cleanup to last at least through this week.
There are flaggers in the area helping direct passing traffic.
Two camping-related updates:
MYERS WAY CLEANUP: As mentioned here in this report last Sunday, parking and dumping along Myers Way has been on the rise again. Last night, while at the Fauntleroy Community Association meeting to discuss other topics, Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Steve Strand said a big cleanup of the area is planned in the next few weeks, with “heavy equipment” already booked. We’re checking with the city’s homelessness-related-info point person to see if we can find out more.
DELRIDGE HILLSIDE ENCAMPMENT: A nearby resident e-mailed us about an encampment growing on a hillside off Croft Place, upslope from Louisa Boren STEM K-8. County records suggest the camping is on school property, which stretches upslope to the side of the road. We asked Seattle Public Schools about their policy regarding camping on school property and how to report it. Spokesperson Carri Campbell says, “Encampments are not allowed on our property … when the district becomes aware we follow our regular procedure; our safety and security office report it to SPD.” Here’s how to report camping on school grounds, Campbell says: “Please report directly to the district’s safety and security office, 206-252-0707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
More tiny houses and a permanent camp manager were among the updates at a brief meeting of the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee this afternoon.
C2C – at 9401 Myers Way S. – is the only city-sanctioned encampment in West Seattle; the city requires each of the sanctioned encampments to have one.
Community Advisory Council members present were chair Willow Fulton, a nearby resident; Judi Carr, a resident of Arrowhead Gardens (where the committee meets); Aaron Garcia of the White Center Community Development Association; Cinda Stenger of the Westside Interfaith Network and Alki UCC; and Grace Stiller of Weed Warriors.
Present from camp operator LIHI were Josh Castle. C2C manager Eric Davis announced he will soon be in that role as a LIHI employee, after about a year. (That drew a round of applause at meeting’s end.) Davis is a camp founder and managed C2C in a paid position under the original camp operator Patacara, but the camp changed operators during a time of controversy and Davis’s position did not become a job again until now.
He presented the monthly update on the city-sanctioned encampment: 45 residents (34 men and 11 women), four of them new, six moved out for jobs/housing/family reunification; one moved out for treatment; no one was barred during the month.
No City of Seattle rep this time – Tom Van Bronkhorst of the Department of Neighborhoods, the usual rep, was absent. Fulton had hoped for a city rep to be present as usual because on the city side of Myers Way – not at/in C2C, she made clear – there are new problems including vehicles in various states of disrepair/demolition.
She feels that such dumping/activity is a magnet for more trouble – “people see it as a dumping ground because it looks like a dumping ground” – so she feels the city should patrol the area regularly rather than wait for complaints. Davis said that vehicles are being stripped at 2, 3 am and yes, he said, the camp has called police to report it. “They just need someone to drive up and down there for six months to get it under control, midnight to six am.”
Fulton says it would be great to have a camera of some sort in the area.
Liz Giba of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council suggested working with King County Sheriff’s Office White Center storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer. Fulton noted that the problems seem to be on the Seattle side and the city and county law-enforcement agencies seem to pass problems back and forth “like a hot potato.”
Meantime, Stenger said Alki UCC has completed eight more tiny houses for the camp and has money to build five more. The camp now has 31 tiny houses and 22 tents. (City funding covers platforms holding either tiny houses or tents, but not the structures themselves.) On September 22nd, the camp will host a celebration and blessing of the eight new houses, starting at noon, with music and food. (All welcome!) She also said she’s working on “the shower issue” (as discussed at previous meetings, camp residents are hoping a mobile shower vehicle can visit more often) and “might have a solution for that.”
Castle noted that the County Council has taken its vote on whether to give lodging-tax money to the Mariners or to affordable housing, and says more was shifted to the latter than originally proposed. (The final vote is on September 17th; the committee approval on September 5th was to allocate $165 million more lodging-tax dollars to affordable housing than originally proposed.)
Absent any further community concerns, or formal agenda items, the meeting adjourned after half an hour. Next one will be 2 pm October 7th, also at Arrowhead Gardens (9200 2nd SW, a few blocks north of C2C).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
No one from Camp Second Chance, West Seattle’s only city-permitted encampment, has been placed in housing in two months.
That’s what the C2C Community Advisory Committee was told when it met on Sunday for the first time since June. In the month prior to the June meeting, C2C’s case manager Richard Horne had reported, he helped seven campers find housing. On Sunday, he described the challenges that are thwarting further progress.
But first: Present from the committee were chair Willow Fulton, a nearby resident; Judi Carr, who lives at Arrowhead Gardens, where they meet; and Aaron Garcia, from the White Center Community Development Association. LIHI, which operates the camp, was represented by Horne and by Josh Castle. C2C founder and resident manager Eric Davis also was there, as was the usual city representative, Tom Van Bronkhorst of the Department of Neighborhoods.
UPDATES: Fulton started by reading a message from absent committee member Cinda Stenger, who wrote that Alki UCC – one of the camp’s major donors – has finished two more “tiny houses” for the camp, with five additional ones almost done, and is raising money for more. (City funding for the encampment does not cover tiny houses or tents, just the platforms on which they are held.)
We published the city Human Services Department‘s announcement of another year for Camp Second Chance shortly after receiving it on Thursday afternoon. Since then, the two community councils closest to the sanctioned encampment – the Highland Park Action Committee and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – have sent HSD interim director Jason Johnson this expression of disappointment:
The neighborhoods of Highland Park and the various neighborhoods comprising the unincorporated urban area of North Highline are extremely disappointed to hear that the City of Seattle has extended the permit for Camp Second Chance for an additional 12 months at the Myers Way Parcels (Fiscal and Administrative Services PMA #4539-4542). With this extension, the camp will have effectively been present at the current site for 2 years and 8 months, easily exceeding the allowed 2 year stay duration for encampments as outlined in Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.42.056, subsection E.1.
Camp Second Chance established itself on the Myers Way Parcels on July 23, 2016 (“Myers Way Parcels,” 2016), 10 days after former mayor Edward B. Murray declared that the property would be retained by the City of Seattle for the purposes of expanding the Joint Training Facility and for expanding recreational space (“Mayor Murray announces,” 2016). Polly Trout of Patacara Community Services—the organization which would become the sponsor for the camp—is reported to have used bolt cutters to break the lock on the fence that had been securing the property (Archibald, 2017a), thereby allowing the group of campers, who had defected from SHARE Tent City 3 earlier that year (Archibald, 2017b), to trespass and establish their new camp. The status of the camp remained in limbo for some time thereafter.
In a post on her blog concerning a possible eviction of the camp, Seattle City Council member Lisa Herbold (2016), who represents the district in which the camp is located, relayed that she had “urged the Executive [branch of city government] not only to have its work guided by established public health and safety prioritization criteria, but…asked whether outreach workers have the ability to ask for more time if – in their estimation – more time would help get campers access to services.” Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw and King County Council member Jean Kohl-Welles, who are not representatives of the area where the camp is located, had requested from Mayor Murray that the camp not be immediately evicted (Jaywork, 2016). Within 5 months of the camp’s establishment on the Myers Way property, the Murray administration proceeded to officially sanction the encampment (“West Seattle Encampment,” 2016), thereby delaying the community’s request to have the Myers Way Parcels relinquished to the Parks and Recreation department for future development of the site in accordance with community wishes.
I want to make clear that the communities surrounding the encampment are not strangers to disadvantage. Our neighborhoods have suffered from a lack of investment going back at least a century, and from redlining in the 1930s. The lasting effects of this lack of investment in our neighborhoods are palpable to this day!
Data from the American Community Survey (5-year Series, 2009-2013) show that Highland Park (Census Tract 113) has a lower median income ($53,182) and a higher proportion of residents who identify as a race or ethnicity other than White (49.8%) than Seattle as a whole ($65,277 and 29.4%, respectively). The King County census tract immediately to the South of Highland Park, which encompasses the land area where the Myers Way Parcels are located, shows even starker demographic departures from Seattle.
Census Tract 265 overlays the southeastern-most portion of Highland Park in the City of Seattle, as well as a portion of White Center, which is part of the North Highline unincorporated urban area. There, the proportion of residents who identify as a race or ethnicity other than White increases to 60.1%, while the Median Household Income drops to $35,857.
Like most Seattleites, residents of our neighborhoods are compassionate and wish to address the homelessness crisis with empathy. However, in as much as the City claims to promote equity, we ask that neighborhoods like ours not continue to be overwhelmed with the responsibility of shouldering the burden of the City’s homelessness policies while wealthier, less diverse neighborhoods remain largely unscathed.
Over the past decade, Highland Park has hosted three encampments and served as a staging area for a proposed safe lot for individuals residing in recreational vehicles. This burden has impacted not only our neighborhood, but the neighborhoods immediately south of us along the city limit. No other neighborhood in Seattle has willingly or unwillingly taken on as much and to the same extent!
Given this history, the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) has sought resolution from the Human Services Department on a number of items, including
1) The adoption of a set of best practices (manifested as our “Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments” which have been provided to the department on many past occasions and are again enclosed below) by which the City of Seattle will abide prior to sanctioning an encampment in any given neighborhood.
2) That the Finance and Administrative Services Department accelerate the relinquishment of the Myers Way Parcels to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
3) A plan resolving jurisdictional issues that arise from the presence of sanctioned and unsanctioned encampments at the interface of city, unincorporated county, and state land.
4) A 10% increase in the number of police officers assigned to the Southwest Precinct Patrol to help mitigate the increased burden on our current resources. (At 124 Full-Time Equivalents for budget year 2018, the Southwest Precinct Patrol Budget Control Level is the lowest in the city.)
Despite a reply on April 18 from Catherine Lester, the previous director of the Human Services Department, the Highland Park Action Committee does not feel that our requests have been satisfactorily addressed. We understand that some of our requests will require coordination with other departments. However, it is our belief that the City needs to take a holistic approach to its encampment-sanctioning process. To date, the methods employed have lacked transparency and eroded neighborhood trust in city government.
In an effort to allow residents of Highland Park and surrounding neighborhoods to get a better understanding of the City of Seattle’s homelessness response, the Highland Park Action Committee invites the Director of the Human Services Department (whomever that may be at the time) to attend our scheduled meeting on September 26, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. PDT for a moderated discussion on homelessness policy.
We kindly ask for confirmation of acceptance or declination of this request by August 17, 2018.
Chair, Highland Park Action Committee
President, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council
Highland Park’s decade-long history with encampment goes back to the first camp that called itself “Nickelsville,” which was evicted from public land at Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way SW less than a week after it set up in September 2008.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With a new case manager on the job, housing placements from West Seattle’s only city-sanctioned encampment have increased dramatically.
That was part of the information shared at the monthly Camp Second Chance (C2C) Community Advisory Committee meeting on Sunday.
The city’s permit-renewal decision still hasn’t been announced – technically for a second year at the city-owned Myers Way Parcels, though it’s been almost two years already since the camp moved there in July 2016, initially without authorization. But it’s apparently imminent.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
No word yet on the city’s decision about another year for Camp Second Chance at the Myers Way Parcels.
That was one headline from this afternoon’s meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for West Seattle’s only city-sanctioned encampment.
The other: Camp operator LIHI‘s new case manager Richard Horne has been on the job two weeks, and he has placed his first two campers in housing, though it was quite a drama. He also stressed to community members who wanted to complain about city homelessness-related policies and practices that he is about people, like the two he placed.
CAMP OPERATIONS UPDATE: “It’s been a very productive month,” said Eric Davis, C2C’s resident manager.
Just a reminder that if you are interested in updates about and from West Seattle’s only city-sanctioned encampment, Camp Second Chance, the C2C Community Advisory Committee is back to its regular first-Sunday meeting schedule this week – 2 pm tomorrow (Sunday, May 6th) at the Arrowhead Gardens community room. AG is at 9200 2nd SW, a few blocks north of the camp’s location on Myers Way. Our coverage of last month’s meeting is here; official minutes are in the C2C section of this city webpage.
2 PM: City crews arrived on the east side of Myers Way today for the first day of a new cleanup we told you about last week. While there has long been unauthorized camping in the area, city spokesperson Will Lemke told us this would be “work to remove garbage and debris … This will not be a removal of the encampment and no one will be asked to leave.” Navigation Team members, however, would continue to do outreach in the area, he added. When we stopped by, workers told us they expected to be there until about 1:30 pm, and planned to return again tomorrow morning.
2:58 PM: As you can see from the photo added above this line, state-owned equipment is involved too.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
While the decision on another year for Camp Second Chance at the Myers Way Parcels is pending, sentiment is swirling about changing the city rules that currently limit encampments to two city-sanctioned years.
That was one of the notable side issues that arose during the monthly meeting of the C2C Community Advisory Committee on Sunday afternoon.
The camp, you might recall, is currently waiting to hear from the city on whether its permit to be at the city-owned Myers Way Parcels will be extended for what the city will consider a “second year,” though the first year didn’t start until the camp had already been there nine months. The one-year-with-one-possible-year-of-renewal was a promise made before the city funding was finalized last year, and it’s the current rule for all of the city’s sanctioned encampments.
When Sunday’s meeting got to open-discussion time, a resident of Arrowhead Gardens – the senior-living complex where the committee meets, a few blocks north of the encampment – asked who “absorbs the expense” if and when the camp has to be relocated.
Unauthorized camping and trash have been longstanding complaints about the wooded area east of Myers Way. In mid-March, the city joined the state in sweeping an area along the slope over Highway 509. Now, the city confirms a cleanup is planned in the area, but not a sweep. We heard about it from SPD, and checked with the city’s homelessness-response spokesperson Will Lemke, who replied:
There is going to be work to remove garbage and debris within the unsanctioned encampment next week. This will not be a removal of the encampment and no one will be asked to leave. (The Navigation) Team continues to conduct repeated outreach in the area, offering services and shelter, and will continue doing so during the trash removal and following weeks.
The area that was swept last month along 509 was found to have no more than four campers during pre-sweep outreach, Lemke said, one of whom was “successfully connected … to shelter at the Georgetown sanctioned encampment in early March before the encampment removal. During the removal, all remaining campers left voluntarily.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
What didn’t happen at last night’s city-convened meeting about Camp Second Chance‘s permit renewal was nearly as notable as what did.
At the start of the meeting at the Joint Training Facility, a few blocks north of the encampment, Lisa Gustaveson from the city Human Services Department tried to tell those who had gathered that they should spend the first half-hour or so talking one-on-one with city reps, instead of speaking at a microphone for all to hear.
This is often an unpopular tactic with meeting attendees, as many would like to hear what everyone has to say, and would like everyone to hear what they themselves have to say. So Gustaveson quickly got – and quickly acknowledged – a visible “sorry, but no” reaction, and changed the plan. Our video begins where the testimony started a few minutes after that announcement:
Also of note: You might recognize the man in a blue shirt who served as the microphone minder, someone with a very different role last time the JTF saw a city meeting about Camp Second Chance, George Scarola, hired by former Mayor Ed Murray as “director of homelessness,” still with the city but not with that title. The only city officials at the table at the head of the room – making it clear they were just there to listen – were Gustaveson and, also from HSD, Sola Plumacher.
They weren’t the only city reps among the ~60 or so people in the room, though. Others included City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who took the microphone before the meeting was over, and staffers by easels at the back of the room. But the most memorable speakers were C2C residents and neighbors. Both supporters and opponents of the permit renewal spoke thoughtfully – as contentious as the issue of homelessness and what to do about it can be, this was not a contentious meeting.
After the jump, short highlights of what each of the 27 speakers said (note that these are not transcriptions – please watch/listen to the video to hear the entirety of what each person said), and what happens next:
Early reminder that tomorrow (Tuesday, March 20th) brings the city meeting about whether sanctioned encampment Camp Second Chance will be able to stay on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels for another year. The city’s initial policies about sanctioned encampments stipulates that they can stay at any one site for up to two years. C2C actually has been at this site for more than a year and a half, as it originally moved onto the city-owned land without authorization in July 2016; the city later decided to open and fund sanctioned encampments, and retroactively designated C2C as one of them. Nonetheless, the city is considering renewing the permit through early next year, and a meeting for comments is part of the process: 6:30 pm Tuesday at the Joint Training Facility (9401 Myers Way S.). If you can’t be there but have comments about the proposed renewal, e-mail them to email@example.com (with Myers Way in the subject line) or call 206-727-8496 by April 5th. C2C is currently home to about 50 people, according to what was reported at the most recent meeting of its Community Advisory Committee.
As first reported here eight days ago, the city and state plan to clean up an unauthorized encampment area on the slope over Highway 509, east of Myers Way, starting tomorrow. We talked with city spokesperson Will Lemke for a detailed followup a week ago and checked back with him today – at which time he confirmed work will start tomorrow:
You will see the Navigation Team and WSDOT crews on site, probably accessing the area from 509. The Nav Team will continue to offer services, shelter, and storage of items as the removal proceeds. WSDOT is scheduled to work on the drainage system soon-thereafter. We have allocated two days to the effort … We believe there is about a half-dozen people living in this specific section of the Myers Way greenbelt. Again, this is only for this section abutting 509 and the WSDOT drainage system.
That’s a reiteration that the encampment areas “on the plateau” immediately east of Myers Way, and “the grotto” beneath it, are not involved in the cleanup plan.
P.S. Earlier today, Lemke was one of the city staffers who briefed a City Council committee about ongoing encampment cleanups (see the Seattle Channel video here). This cleanup wasn’t discussed, but one staffer acknowledged that there are at least 400 known unauthorized encampments within the city limits.
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.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The monthly meeting of city-sanctioned encampment Camp Second Chance‘s Community Advisory Committee was complaint- and controversy-free this time around, though there was one big headline, as noted here earlier: The city has announced a March 20th community meeting as part of the process of renewing C2C’s permit to stay for a second year.
Present for the meeting at Arrowhead Gardens on Sunday afternoon (and L to R in our photo above) were Tom Van Bronkhorst from the Department of Neighborhoods, Josh Castle and Amy Friedman from camp operator LIHI, camp manager/co-founder Eric Davis, committee members Aaron Garcia and Cinda Stenger, and committee chair Willow Fulton. (One more committee member, Judi Carr, was there but not in the photo.)
We’re covering the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee meeting right now, as we do each month, and there’s one bulletin so far: The city is reviewing whether to renew the permit for the sanctioned encampment to remain at its site on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels for a second year, and as part of the renewal process, a community meeting has just been announced for 6:30 pm Tuesday, March 20th, at the Joint Training Facility (which is near the camp, 9401 Myers Way S.) If you can’t make it to the meeting, you can e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org (you’re asked to write “Myers Way” in the subject line) and/or call 206-727-8496. The notice says comments will be accepted through April 5th. Though the camp actually has been at the site for a year and a half already, its status as a city-sanctioned encampment didn’t officially start until March of last year. We haven’t found the meeting announcement online yet but we photographed the flyer’s two pages – see them here and here. Our report on the rest of the meeting will be up later today/tonight.