On Wednesday evening we will be meeting at 7pm at the Highland Park Improvement Club on 12th and Holden to discuss the Safe Lot that the Mayor announced will open soon at the former Nickelsville site’s parking lot at the bottom of Highland Park Drive. More specific information about that can be found on the West Seattle Blog.
We have confirmation from Deputy Mayor Kim, Councilmember Herbold, and several other departments. We will have a list of Frequently Asked Questions available to help answer some of the nuts and bolts about the proposed encampment, and we have provided the Mayor’s office with the following list of questions we’d like addressed at the meeting. After that, we will have Community Comments. We will be moderating the speaking times to make sure everyone has a chance to speak.
- City-Wide Neighborhood Equity? were other sites around the city considered, and why was this site chosen again so soon as a host, after hosting for over two years so recently. We understand that finding vacant city-owned sites within the current encampment legislation’s parameters is difficult, but what is being done to ensure that each eligible parcel of land around the city is taking a turn hosting so that one part of the city is not impacted more than another part?
- Who will the lot be serving? Will the lot be serving those in need currently in our district or will people be moving here from elsewhere in the city? What is the Mayor’s plan for those currently in need within our district?
- Real and Probable Impacts: We have learned from experience about a few things that having a homeless encampment means for the neighborhood- these are not fears of the unknown, or assumptions that our community has. Can you please respond to our Community’s request for the following, which are real and probable impacts that we foresee based on our past experience:
- Transportation: We would like there to be an allowance given for the #131 bus as soon as the encampment is opened to provide for an increase in frequency, and an increase in metro police presence on that route servicing the new encampment. We would like to see the #131 go back to its previous route into White Center permanently, so our neighbors can get the services they are used to accessing there, this will be helpful for the campers to get to services as well.
- Proactive Policing: Our experience shows us that the encampment is draining on local police and emergency responders. (not necessarily due to crime in the neighborhood, but also due to the amount of calls the encampment itself makes) We would like increased police personnel and emergency responders while the encampment is located here.
- Growth and Satellite Encampments: how will the city respond if unsanctioned tents or vehicles start popping up in and around the lot, the greenbelt, the wetlands, down the street, or in the former Nickelsville site? Can the city provide a single point of contact for the community when we start seeing “satellite” unsanctioned encampments pop up? What department will be held responsible for looking into it- the department which legally owns the land (Parks, the Port, SDOT, etc), the police, social services, …? We fear that impacts to the area over time will fall on deaf ears and would like to know who exactly to contact, and for someone to be in charge of responding to us directly.
- Evictions: will the police be allowed to enforce evictions from the encampment? What is the City’s plan for where evicted campers will go? how will they get there?
- Greenbelt protection: Can the city commit to increased personnel at the Police and Parks department to enforce existing laws protecting the greenbelt? Our experience has shown us that evicted campers band together and relocate in large communities within the greenbelt, ruining the work that Nature Consortium has been doing to restore it and rendering the greenbelt unsafe for use (Things got so out of control before that police advised the community not to use the Greenbelt anymore.) The Operator of the encampment has nothing to do with these communities once they have been evicted, will the City take responsibility for protecting their largest greenbelt?