HPAC 2018 OCTOBER MEETING

Join us for our LAST meeting of 2018 on Weds. October 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM

All HPAC meetings are held at the Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden St. Seattle, WA 98106 on the 4th Wednesday of the month (from Jan – June & Sept – October) Doors open at 6:30 – Meeting from 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Agenda as follows:

7:00p Welcome from HPAC Chair Charlie Omana

7:05p Community Announcements

  • HPIC
  • Other

7:10p HPAC Executive Committee Updates

7:15p Setting the Agenda for 2019

  • Elections?
  • Next steps on Roundabout Funding
  • Potential “Your Voice, Your Choice” projects
  • Outreach and Engagement
  • Community Focus Areas
  • Environment/Pollution
  • New Orders of Business

8:30p Adjourn Meeting

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An Update on the Highland Park Way/SW Holden Intersection

Neighbors,

This afternoon I received word from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) that in the coming weeks there will be improvements to the intersection of SW Holden Street and Highland Park Way SW to promote safety and predictability. Residents near the intersection can expect to receive letters in the proceeding days, but the communication can also be found here.

Indeed, this is a positive development that should encourage safer access for commuters!

I have been assured, however, that this work does not preclude the development of a roundabout for which our community has been advocating for the previous 6 years. The Seattle Department of Transportation has applied for a City Safety Program grant with the Washington Department of Transportation and will expect to receive word of whether this project has been funded by January.

In the meantime, we must continue to press for commitments to this project so that our neighborhood can be safer. To that end, I encourage you to express support to the Seattle City council for District 1 Representative Lisa Herbold’s proposal to add the Highland Park Way Roundabout project to the Seattle Department of Transportation Capital Improvement Program for the 2019-2024 period.

If you have time, you are highly encouraged to attend the Public Hearing on the Budget on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at 5:30 PM. In order to comment, please line up before 5 PM so that you can add your name to the roster!

If you are unable to attend the public hearing, please consider emailing or calling the following council-members by October 23 to let them know that this project is greatly needed in our neighborhood:

Sally Bagshaw
Chair, Select Budget Committee
E: sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
T: 206-684-8801

Teresa Mosqueda
E: Teresa.Mosqueda@seattle.gov
T: 206-684-8806

Lorena Gonzalez
E: Lorena.Gonzalez@seattle.gov
T: 206-684-8802

Mike O’Brien
Chair, Transportation Committee
E: Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov
T: 206-684-8800

While personalized messages are most helpful (and telephone calls are highly encouraged), we have provided the following template for convenience for you to copy and paste in your communication to the above council-members (please be sure to also copy council-member Lisa Herbold: Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov):

Dear Councilmember ____,

I am writing in favor of Council-member Lisa Herbold’s proposed addition of the Highland Park Way/Southwest Holden Street Roundabout Project to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for 2019-2024 as part of this year’s budget process.

As a resident of West Seattle, I frequently use Highland Park Way to access the peninsula and can attest that the intersection at SW Holden Street is in dire need of significant improvements to increase safety for vehicles and pedestrians alike, as well as improve traffic flow.

Highland Park Way is one of only three access points to West Seattle. Our current infrastructure is not adequate to meet the demands of heavy usage due to increasing density. During daily commute hours, traffic on SW Holden St backs up significantly, sometimes 6 or more blocks deep, as commuters try to access Highland Park Way SW. Southwest Holden St. is the most direct route from several arterial roads in the area and forms a bottleneck on the way to Highland Park Way.

Further, the design of the current intersection does not provide a safe route for pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians are often crossing 3 lanes of traffic just to access the King County Metro bus stop. Young children must navigate treacherous road conditions every morning to catch their bus to school.

The Highland Park Way/SW Holden Roundabout Project would go a long way to increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and commuters while accommodating future growth, development, and density in the area.

Please favorably consider adding this project to the SDOT CIP for 2019-2024.

If you have any questions, please contact me at __________.

Sincerely,

________

We can also expect to continue our conversation with the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan come January.

I look forward to your continued advocacy for our neighborhood. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns about SDOT’s proposed work.

Sincerely,

Charlie Omana – Chair,  Highland Park Action Committe

Follow-up Letter to Mayor Durkan

Dear members,

The following letter was submitted to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on September 10, 2018 in preparation for her visit to Highland Park for the September 26 meeting of the Highland Park Action Committee:

September 10, 2018

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
City of Seattle
600 4th Ave, 7th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Mayor Durkan:

The residents of Highland Park and adjacent communities eagerly look forward to your visit for the September 26 meeting of the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC). All summer I have heard from neighbors expressing excitement and marking their calendars; the optimism is certainly palpable.

In addition to the letter sent by HPAC on July 17, 2018 requesting assistance in closing the funding gap for the Highland Park Way and SW Holden Street Roundabout Project, there is more work to be done to reach equity in infrastructure and resources for our neighborhood.

I am reaching out today to broach the additional issues of neighborhood safety and community development in Highland Park which we wish to have addressed along with the Highland Park Way and SW Holden St. Project. For ease, I will divide this letter into three parts: (i) Crime and Safety, (ii) Homeless Encampments, and (iii) Community Development.

(i) Crime and Safety

The results of the 2017 Seattle Public Safety Survey show that Highland Park has among the highest fears of crime in the Southwest Precinct. Limited Seattle Police Department (SPD) capacity, car prowls, and shots fired rate as the highest public safety concerns for our neighborhood listed in the survey. Additionally, HPAC has also heard neighbors’ concerns about break-ins and burglaries, drug activity, illegal trespassing and squatting, abandoned houses, illegal dumping (especially in our industrial areas to the east), vehicle theft, and pedestrian safety.

Undoubtedly, perceptions of crime in Highland Park are situational. Our neighborhood borders South Delridge to the west, which experienced a 56% increase in crime rates when comparing the three-year periods of 2008-2010 and 2015-2017 and has the 6th highest crime rate in the city, according to the Seattle Times. Additionally, Highland Park is bounded by unincorporated King County to the south and Washington State-owned land (WsDOT) to the east. This geographic location presents a jurisdictional challenge for law enforcement.

While a Mutual Aid Agreement exists between the law enforcement agencies of King County, the University of Washington, and the cities of King County (including Seattle), it is unclear whether this agreement is designed to address the nature of the crimes experienced in our neighborhood. For example, would the spate of property crimes that have afflicted neighborhoods north of Southwest Roxbury Street in recent months be sufficient for SPD to request aid and establish incident command if suspects are discovered to originate primarily in unincorporated King County or Burien? Or is such a process limited to only the most serious, but ultimately rare, crimes and emergencies? What happens if the request for aid is not granted, and how does SPD determine which crimes warrant additional resources beyond its agency?

Certainly, the Public Safety Survey shows that limited police capacity is the biggest safety concern in the entire city! The Southwest Precinct Patrol Budget Control Level is the lowest in the city, at 124 full-time equivalents for 2018. While officers can be moved around to respond to particular needs, a shuffling of existing resources will not hide the fact that Seattle has a low per capita rate of officers for a city of its size and prominence. For being the premier city of the Northwest, it is not encouraging that Seattle has the same per capita rate as Mobile, Alabama or Seguin, Texas.

(ii) Homeless Encampments

The 2017 Public Safety Survey results also show that homelessness as a public safety and public health issue was the most prominent theme in the narrative comments for Highland Park.

Highland Park has, over the past 10 years, hosted three encampments (Nickelsville on two occasions and Camp Second Chance since 2016) and served as a staging area for a proposed safe lot for individuals residing in recreational vehicles. Additionally, the presence of RVs along Myers Way Southwest and the surrounding neighborhood has not been adequately addressed and acts as a magnet for derelict vehicles of all kinds.

This burden has negatively impacted our neighborhood and those immediately south of us along the city limit. In Highland Park, for example, we have a homeless neighbor who has been unhoused for over 2 years who has accumulated a camper, two mini vans, and a truck parked all across the neighborhood. She has a tendency to feed animals, attracting rats and raccoons, posing a public health concern. In the Riverview neighborhood immediately to our north, neighbors have complained of an accumulation of RVs that illegally dump their waste into the street and local park. Even Camp Second Chance, one of the city’s many sanctioned encampments, is among the very few that correlate with a measurable increase in crime for the surrounding neighborhood, according to an independent analysis by the Guardian newspaper.

The neighborhoods of Highland Park and the various neighborhoods comprising the unincorporated urban area of North Highline were disappointed to learn earlier this spring that the City of Seattle extended the permit for Camp Second Chance for an additional 12 months at the Myers Way Parcels (Fiscal and Administrative Services PMA #4539-4542). The community pressed hard for these parcels to be retained by the city so that they could be repurposed into green space. With this extension, the camp will have been established at the 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.

Residents of our neighborhoods are compassionate and wish to address the homelessness crisis with empathy. We bear no ill will towards the residents of Camp Second Chance or our unhoused neighbors. Nevertheless, we do feel it is unfair that the city continues to impose its responses to the homelessness crisis onto communities who have little to no power to challenge them.

HPAC has communicated, on record, the neighborhood’s concerns about homeless encampments to the city’s Human Services Department on multiple occasions. Yet, despite finally receiving a reply from the department’s former director, Catherine Lester, on April 18, we do not feel that our concerns have been satisfactorily addressed. 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 City’s homelessness policies while more privileged neighborhoods remain largely unscathed.

(iii) Community Development

Let me be clear that the narrative here is not one of privileged NIMBYs fighting against progress, but rather one of long-ignored communities that are struggling to get an equitable share of the investments that seem to be lavished upon communities in North Seattle, or the Duwamish Peninsula west of 35th Ave SW.

Highland Park suffers from a historical lack of investment that has held the neighborhood back in numerous ways. A traditionally working-class area that provided affordable housing for workers in the industrial Duwamish Valley below, boom and bust cycles over the last century have acutely restricted the area’s growth and prosperity, leading to the neighborhood being redlined in the 1930s. Even today, with the exception of South Park, Highland Park remains one of the most (if not the most) affordable neighborhoods on the Duwamish peninsula.

Again, 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) than Seattle as a whole ($65,277). Additionally, Highland Park has a higher proportion of residents who identify as a race or ethnicity other than White (49.8% versus Seattle’s 29.4%).

In Census Tract 265, which overlays the southeastern-most portion of Highland Park in the City of Seattle and a portion of White Center (part of the North Highline unincorporated urban area), 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.

Even with the recent favorable real estate market, homes in greater Delridge still sell for well below the average price per square foot of other neighborhoods. The City’s own analysis recognizes that residents of the Westwood-Highland Park urban village face a higher risk of displacement with low access to opportunity.

Compare a leisurely drive along California Ave SW in West Seattle versus one along Delridge Way SW in Delridge, and the differences in access, opportunities and investment become as clear as night and day. Lack of investment is especially apparent in the neighborhoods bounded by SW Holden to the north and SW Roxbury to the south, where a high concentration of vacant properties attracts squatters and contributes to neighborhood blight.

Zoning, too, works against our neighborhood. As much of Highland Park is zoned for single-family use, the very few legacy commercial zones within our neighborhood are inadequate to serve the needs of the community. We have already lost an opportunity for potential small business startups recently when a developer built townhouses on one corner zoned Low Rise 2 Residential Commercial, but no ground floor commercial space. Additionally, infrequent transit service and inconvenient routing make it difficult for many neighbors without a vehicle to access essential services or grocery options.

Highland Park has long been in need of the kinds of improvements and investments that have spurred economic development and social opportunities in wealthier neighborhoods. It would be helpful if the City could work with us to develop a framework for promoting positive development, since the current Delridge Action Plan does not cover the southerly neighborhoods of greater Delridge.

We have been encouraged by the implementation of the Duwamish Valley Action Plan and Equitable Development Initiative, which highlight the City of Seattle’s commitment to promoting equity in the city’s historically underserved communities.

Mayor Durkan, the Highland Park Action Committee cannot thank you enough for accepting our invitation to visit the neighborhood of Highland Park. Your visit signals to our community that your administration is dedicated to promoting the well-being of all neighborhoods in the city, regardless of income or demographic composition.

Sincerely,

Charlie Omana
Chair, Highland Park Action Committee
(206) 880-1506
hpacchair@gmail.com

CC: Kyla Blair, Director of External Relations and Outreach
Amanda Hohlfeld, Office of the Mayor
Carmen Best, Chief of Police
Jason Johnson, Interim Director, Department of Human Services
Andrés Mantilla, Interim Director, Department of Neighborhoods
Samuel Assefa, Director, Office of Planning and Community Development
Council Member Lisa Herbold, Chair: Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic    Development and Arts
Council Member Kshama Sawant, Chair: Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights

Mayor Jenny Durkan to speak at the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) Meeting on Weds., Sept. 26, 2018

NOTE: We will have an earlier start time, doors open at 6:15 pm and meeting will begin at 6:30 PM to accommodate the Mayor’s schedule. Seating is limited to the first 150 people.

HPAC Meeting with Guest Speaker Mayor Jenny Durkan
Date: Weds. Sept. 26, 2018
Time: 6:15p – 8p
Location: Highland Park Improvement Club (HPIC)
1116 SW Holden St., Seattle, WA 98106

jennyMayor Jenny Durkan’s will follow through on her promise to visit Highland Park this month and we hope that she will work with us to effect much-needed changes so that the diverse residents of our neighborhood can look forward to a bright and positive future!

We have requested the focus of the Mayor’s remarks to address:
1) the infrastructure needs of Highland Park, specifically, the Highland Park Way & SW Holden St. intersection. This has been HPAC’s preponderant infrastructure project, which we have been working to bring to fruition for many years. Further, Highland Park has been working to make this intersection safer in varying capacities for well over 70 years!
2) the additional issues of neighborhood safety and community development in Highland Park which we wish to have addressed along with the Highland Park Way and SW Holden St. Project including (i) Crime and Safety, (ii) Homeless Encampments, and (iii) Community Development.

Background: During Mayor Jenny Durkan’s West Seattle town hall on February 24, 2018, HPAC’s Gunner Scott, currently vice chair, requested that the mayor pay a visit to Highland Park to discuss some of the longstanding issues that adversely affect our neighborhood, including the proposed Highland Park Way / SW Holden St. roundabout project.

Highland Park Way SW is one of the few gateways into West Seattle from the rest of the city and the Highland Park Roundabout project would go a long way to ease congestion by improving traffic flow and safety through the neighborhood. Yet it remains distinctly underfunded. To date, only $200k (of an estimated total cost of $2.5M) has been committed to the project.

HPAC Meeting with Guest Speaker Mayor Jenny Durkan
Date: Weds. Sept. 26, 2018
Time: 6:15p – 8p
Location: Highland Park Improvement Club (HPIC)
1116 SW Holden St., Seattle, WA 98106

Agenda

6:15 Doors open

6:30 Calling meeting to order

6:35 Guest Speaker – Mayor Jenny Durkan

6:50 – 7:00 Q&A

Interlude

7:10 – Conversation with Randy Wiger, Recreation Program Coordinator, Parks Department, about programming in HP parks

7:30 Guest – Jason Johnson, Interim Director, Department of Human Services: Open conversation about City of Seattle homeless responses and policies

8:00 close meeting

A Formal Request for Funding for the Highland Park Way Roundabout

Neighbors,

Two weeks ago, the Highland Park Action Committee submitted a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan requesting funding to complete the Highland Park Way/SW Holden St Roundabout project. Please find the content of the letter below:

July 17, 2018

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
City of Seattle
600 4th Ave, 7th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Mayor Durkan:

The Highland Park Action Committee is pleased to learn that you will be joining us for our next meeting on September 26, 2018 and the community looks forward to your visit. In anticipation of your meeting with us and with the timeliness of the budget process currently underway, we are requesting your support in the solution proposed by the Seattle Department of Transportation to address the safety and infrastructure needs at the Highland Park Way/ SW Holden Street intersection.

On June 13, 2018, we had the pleasure of participating in a neighborhood walk-through with your Director of External Relations and Outreach, Kyla Blair, to highlight our top infrastructure needs. Our key concern is the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street, which has a problematic history dating back at least 77 years.

In an effort to reduce dangerous collisions and discourage traffic from cutting into adjacent neighborhood streets to bypass the intersection, our organization has been working with SDOT to develop a long-term solution. In 2012, SDOT suggested that a large-scale roundabout (the first in the city, if built) would go a long way in promoting safety and reducing congestion. However, with a total project cost of $2.5 million, we have had little success over the last 6 years in getting this project funded. In the meantime, accidents continue to occur, including the most recent of which happened only a few days after Kyla Blair’s visit.

We have been lucky to have a strong advocate in our District 1 Councilmember, Lisa Herbold, who has been able to allocate $200K of city funding towards design for this project. An additional $300K was also identified by SDOT, for a total of $500K to date. Still, this is only 20% of the total project cost, and other efforts have been unsuccessful, including a failed WSDOT grant application in 2017 with strong support from elected officials.

Mayor, we are asking you today for assistance in closing the funding gap for the Highland Park Way SW Roundabout project. We understand that the budget proposal process is in the late stages, but we hope that you will be sympathetic to our concerns.

We have been encouraged by recent developments like the Duwamish Valley Action Plan and the awarding of $5.5K through the Equitable Development Initiative, which highlight the City of Seattle’s commitment to promoting equity in many of Seattle’s historically underserved communities.

The origins of the Highland Park neighborhood go back over a century, when the development of a private streetcar line spurred residential development in what had previously been farm-, timber-, and wildlands. When streetcar service was interrupted after a particularly nasty landslide just north of Highland Park, ownership of the line was passed to the City of Seattle, who repaired the tracks and resumed service a few years later. What was arguably the city’s first municipally owned and operated streetcar line allowed development to flourish along the service route, including neighborhoods like Highland Park.

The advent of the Great Depression and subsequent cessation of streetcar service interrupted future development in Highland Park for several years. The economic impacts were severe, and most of the Delridge area, including Highland Park, were redlined in the 1930s by the Federal Government. Only with the Second World War did development resume as the area struggled to adequately house the influx of residents who came to work in the industrial Duwamish Valley below. Highland Park became so synonymized with its working-class residents that the geological formation on which the neighborhood sits became known as “Boeing Hill.”

Future development has been punctuated by boom and bust cycles ever since, but our neighborhood has never truly recovered from the adverse effects of redlining and recessions. 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) than Seattle as a whole ($65,277). Additionally, Highland Park has a higher proportion of residents who identify as a race or ethnicity other than White (49.8% versus Seattle’s 29.4%), and racial disparities in income inequality are well documented. Even with the recent favorable real estate market, homes in greater Delridge are still selling for well below the average price per square foot of other neighborhoods. The City has even recognized through its own analysis that residents of the Westwood-Highland Park urban village face a high risk of displacement with low access to opportunity. Mayor, Highland Park has long been in need of the kinds of improvements and investments that have spurred economic development and social opportunities in wealthier neighborhoods.

West Seattle is physically isolated from the rest of the city, and Highland Park Way SW serves as one of only three egresses off the peninsula. As West Seattle continues to densify, there will be greater pressure placed on this intersection which was not built to sustain the wear and tear of a main arterial. Additionally, increasing traffic, lack of adequate crosswalks, and awkward channelization make this intersection extremely perilous for the residents of Highland Park, including the many young children who must cross the dangerous road to catch their bus.

We understand that the additional $2 million cost needed to fully implement this project represents a significant investment. Relative to other transportation projects, however, this smaller project will have a proportionally greater impact in improving neighborhood safety for Highland Park and West Seattle commuters. With the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project on hold, one consideration might be to re-allocate part of that project’s $15-18 million funding towards the Highland Park Way roundabout.

Of course, the roundabout is not our neighborhood’s only infrastructural need. For example, we have been asking for a protected southbound left-turn signal at 16th Ave SW and SW Holden Street—our second-most problematic intersection—but have been told by SDOT that there is currently no project that will implement this improvement. Other needed infrastructural improvements include crosswalks and traffic calming measures.

We hope that our neighborhood can continue to work with the City of Seattle to bring needed infrastructural improvements online. Our needs are many, and they will not be fulfilled entirely through a single program or grant fund. It would be helpful, therefore, if the City could work with us to develop a broader neighborhood plan. I would like to note that the current Delridge Action Plan does not cover the southerly neighborhoods of greater Delridge.

In the meantime, we hope that you will favorably consider our request for funding to complete the Highland Park Way SW Roundabout project. In anticipation of your visit to Highland Park in late September, I will be following up with you in the coming months to provide more background on our neighborhood needs and concerns related to safety and community development.

Sincerely,

Charlie Omana
Chair, Highland Park Action Committee
(206) 880-1506
hpacchair@gmail.com

Gunner Scott, Vice Chair

CC: Kyla Blair, Director of External Relations and Outreach
Amanda Hohlfeld, Office of the Mayor
Andrés Mantilla, Interim Director, Department of Neighborhoods
Samuel Assefa, Director, Office of Planning and Community Development
Council Member Lisa Herbold, Chair: Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts
Council Member Kshama Sawant, Chair: Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights
Council Member Mike O’Brien, Chair: Sustainability and Transportation

REVISED JUNE 27 AGENDA

Reminder: HPAC’s June 27th meeting is tomorrow at 7:00pm

All HPAC meetings are held at the Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden, Seattle, WA 98106 on the 4th Wednesday of the month (from Jan – June & Sept – October)

NOTE: This will be our last meeting until September 26, 2018!

AGENDA

7:00 PM: Welcome from HPAC Chair Charlie Omana

7:05 PM Discussion and Q&A with SPD and Parks

parksspd

 

 

 

 

Community discussion with SPD SW Precinct Lieutenants Steve Strand and Ron Smith and Robert Stowers from Seattle Parks and Recreation regarding clarification to the areas bordering the Riverview Play fields on the south along SW Webster street, RV parking and policies concerning encampments on Parks Department property.

Also, discussion about Parks-related concerns in Highland Park such as the conversion of Myers Way Parcels to usable green space and landslide mitigation on Parks properties.

7:35 PM: Community Announcements

  • HPIC
  • Kim Barnes, Delridge Triangle
  • Other

7:45 PM: Approval of Minutes (Please review May 23 meeting minutes here.)

7:50 PM: Reports of HPAC Executive Committee

  • Joint response from the Highland Park Action Committee and the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to the extended permit for Camp Second Chance on Myers Way
  • Walk-through with Mayor’s Office Representative
  • KOMO News Story

8:00 PM: HPAC Strategic Planning Discussion

8:30 PM: Adjourn. See you in September!

Where: All HPAC meetings are held at the Highland Park Improvement Club, 1116 SW Holden, Seattle, WA 98106 on the 4th Wednesday of the month (from Jan – June & Sept – October)

 
REMINDER: National Night Out is August 7th from 6-9pm

night

 

 

Response to Camp Second Chance Permit Renewal

On June 7, 2018, the City of Seattle Human Services Department announced that the permit for Camp Second Chance would be renewed for an additional 12 months on the site known as the Myers Way Parcels.

In response, the Highland Park Action Committee issued a joint statement with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council to outline our position on this issue and to invite the director of the Human Services Department to engage in a discussion with our communities about the impacts of the city’s homelessness policies on neighborhoods like ours.

We have played host to the city’s dubitable policies long enough without receiving commensurate recompense in the form of needed investments in infrastructure and safety. It is time for accountability. 

Please find the letter below:

June 8, 2018

Jason Johnson, Interim Director
Department of Human Services
City of Seattle
Seattle Municipal Tower – 58th fl.
700 Fifth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98124-421

Interim Director Johnson:

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.

Sincerely,

Charlie Omana
Chair, Highland Park Action Committee
206-880-1506
hpacchair@gmail.com

Liz Giba
President, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council
lgiba@northhighlineuac.org

CC: Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
Council Member Lisa Herbold, Chair: Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts
Council Member Kshama Sawant, Chair: Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights
homelessness@seattle.gov

Citations

Archibald, A. (2017a, February 22). A new kind of camp. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://realchangenews.org/2017/02/22/new-kind-camp

Archibald, A. (2017b, September 6). Camp Second Chance splits with supporting nonprofit. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://realchangenews.org/2017/09/06/camp-second-chance-splits-supporting-nonprofit

Herbold, L. (2016, July 28). In-District Office Hours, August 4 SDOT meeting on 35th Avenue SW/West Seattle Greenway, Myers Way. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://herbold.seattle.gov/in-district-office-hours-august-4-sdot-meeting-on-35th-avenue-swwest-seattle-greenway-myers-way/

Jaywork, C. (2016, August 02). City and County Councilmembers Ask Murray Not to Clear Homeless Encampment. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/city-and-county-councilmembers-ask-murry-not-to-clear-homeless-encampment/

Mayor Murray announces planned usage of Myers Way property in Southwest Seattle. (2016, July 13). Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://murray.seattle.gov/mayor-murray-announces-planned-usage-of-myers-way-property-in-southwest-seattle/

Myers Way Parcels now home to encampment. (2016, July 24). Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/myers-way-parcels-now-home-to-encampment/

West Seattle Encampment: Mayor announces ‘sanctioned’ camp on Myers Way Parcels site. (2016, December 1). Retrieved June 7, 2018, from http://westseattleblog.com/2016/12/west-seattle-encampment-mayor-proposes-authorizing-one-on-myers-way-parcels-site/