Nickelsville in the News

Some other news venues are picking up the situation at Nickelsville other than our beloved West Seattle Blog- here are some links to local articles:

HPAC’s letter to Mayor McGinn, his staff, and Seattle City Council regarding Nickelsville

April 2,  2013

To Mayor McGinn, his staff, and members of Seattle City Council,

The Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) would like to request a move out date for the homeless encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” at 7116 West Marginal Way at the base of Highland Park Drive. HPAC represents the Highland Park and Riverview Neighborhoods in Southwest Seattle. It has come to our attention that it has been difficult for the residence of Nickelsville to keep order in the camp and the management technique used to try to restore order recently included the “Show of Force Team” removing the Porta Potty Service. As the residence of Nickelsville wrote:

“The reason for this decision (to remove the Porta Potty Service) was our inability at Nickelsville in preventing the overrun of our community by meth dealers and barred, violent former campers. Progress was made yesterday, but the situation is still teetering on the brink.”

A new letter has been released from the encampment stating that things are “returning to stability.”  The intent of their letter was to express dismay with the Seattle Police for not helping them with security. The Seattle Police are in a bind because the entire encampment is squatting illegally, so they cannot enforce one group’s illegal presence there over another group.  The situation at Nickeslville has gotten out of hand, we have noticed a shift in the population from what was originally there, and this has been verified by campers living in Nickelsville. We were surprised, however, at the threatening management technique. As we have continued to hear stories of how the camp is currently being run, we were struck by the realization that there really is no oversight whatsoever for this encampment- it is illegal after all, and we have a lot of concerns with how it’s being managed at this point. The City’s blind eye / hands off approach has not worked for the residents at the encampment, or for the neighborhood. If the City were running the encampment or had any official presence there, they could help get people the services they need. In fact, the existing management is actually intimidating campers into not seeking help or services, and pressuring residents to not call police so as not to create problems for themselves. Since the police were called in for this most recent incident, it has come out that there have been several violent and angry outbursts that have come from barred campers. These are the campers that are now living in our backyard woods, these are the police reports that are very carefully written without the words “Nickelsville” or “encampment.” Between this recent incident, the management techniques that are coming to light, the recent rat infestation reports from the Health Department, and the flooding tendencies the site presents in the winter months, the conditions at Nickelsville warrant a closure.

Nickelsville has been at its current location for almost 2 years as a “self managed” community.  We were asked by Deputy Mayor Smith at a December 7, 2011 Community Meeting if we would like to seek eviction. Although some residents were calling for a forced eviction at that time, we did not feel that we, as a community organization, were comfortable asking for that until there was a place for the residents of Nickelsville to go, and we were told that there were not any.  At that point we felt like legislation was just a few months away and a City Sanctioned Encampment with adequate health and safety measures were within reach. We requested more patrols in the greenbelt as a lot of barred campers were ending up there.  We were told there were not sufficient resources for that, but if we call in with specific locations they would be cleared. The police have advised us not to use the greenbelt for recreation anymore because campsites can be guarded with aggressive dogs, which make it difficult to call in with specific locations in order to get to use our greenbelt again. We have met with Nick Licata twice since that December 2011 community meeting to discuss the Mayor’s Transitional Encampment Interim Use Amendments, drafted in April of 2012.  We understand that Nick Licata has not moved on it for several reason, one being that Share/Wheel and Nickelsville expressed opposition to it at those meetings.

We conducted a survey of our community in August of 2012, 165 people responded. One of the biggest problems that came up was the increase in the number of people living in the greenbelt (such as the barred meth dealers and violent campers Nickelsville alluded to in their letter). The other important piece of the survey was that the majority of people wanted the encampment to move within 6 months. We took the results of that survey, a summary, and all the comments to our meeting with Licata’s office in August of 2012. We sent the results of our survey to Mayor McGinn as well, I just received a reply back from him- 8 months later, it thanked me for my concern.

The City has been ignoring our repeated pleas for political leadership, and our multiple requests for another neighborhood to take a turn hosting the encampment at a more adequate site that does not present such public health risks. We were happy to do our part to help share the responsibility of homelessness with city for a 6 month period of time. The City has disrespected and taken advantage of our neighborhood for long enough by keeping it here for 2 years now.  The City is turning a blind eye to the huge public health risks at the encampment and to the threatening management techniques used on its residents, allowing for considerable risk to the campers and to the surrounding neighborhoods. The City has set a dangerous precedent of condoning permanent encampments, without due process from neighbors or community members, to be set up over night in any neighborhood in Seattle. Nickelsville has already written that a priority in finding a new site is that it is available for 2 years- the precedent has now been set for them, thanks to this unwillingness to act on the City’s part. We feel completely stunned at the lack of leadership and the lack of respect for our neighborhood from both the City Council and the Mayor’s Office.

HPAC, as representatives of the Highland Park and Riverview neighborhoods are requesting:

1.      a move out date no later than June 13th (1 month after Nickelsville’s May 13th two year anniversary for this site.)  We would like for the encampment to be evacuated prior to the swell in population that occurs in the summer months there.

2.    at least 1 month notice be given to the campers, and that every measure possible be taken to ensure that each person at the encampment is offered shelter or housing.

3.      a commitment to regular sweeps through the greenbelt for the next 8 months with aggressive bag-and-tag operations, and prompt action thereafter to remove any encampments that are reported by the community.

4.      This is the second time that HPAC has had to galvanize against the city- the second time the city as forced our fragile community to spend valuable time and energy that communities like ours don’t have, fighting the city. We would like assurance that you will begin to treat Highland Park and Riverview with the same respect that you would for other neighborhoods in Seattle.

Should we not hear a move out date from the City by the encampment’s 2nd Anniversary (May 13th), we will be forced to take action which will include more media, a lot of emails and visits to your offices from our community, and legal action. This call for a move out date is independent of the Food Lifeline decision which should be made in the next couple of weeks. Our community does not want to see the encampment at its current location through the summer.

Who to share your opinion with about Nickelsville

In light of tonight’s meeting, here is some contact information to start with if you’d like to let some folks know how you feel about Nickelsville in its current location. If you think of it, please  copy me on whatever you send: hpacchair@gmail.com .

Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith: darryl.smith@seattle.gov , 233-7893

Jerry DeGrieck, Senior Policy Advisor at Mayor’s Office: jerry.degrieck@seattle.gov , 684-4029

Nick Licata, Seattle City Council: nick.licata@seattle.gov

Sally Clark, President of Seattle City Council: sally.clark@seattle.gov

I would say Mike McGinn, but it took him 8 months to reply to my last email, so I’m not sure it really matters to write him.

Here is a copy of what I sent as a precursor of a more formal letter to follow at the beginning of April:

I want to give you a heads up that the Highland Park Action Committee met last night, and while we have been very patient with having Nickelsville at the bottom of Highland Park Drive, the consensus in the neighborhood is that we are ready to call for an eviction and ask for a move out date. We have not asked for that yet, but have continued to inform you of our displeasure with having the camp in the same location for 2 years now.

You have set a dangerous precedent for all neighborhoods in Seattle, one I am confident not all neighborhoods will be tolerant of. Organizations such as Scott Morrow’s can now point to Nickelsville and your inaction (and help in some cases), as a justification for squatting illegally on public land for years at a time. We do not want to go through another summer with the encampment at its current location, and look forward to hearing a move out date from you as soon as possible. We understand that Food Lifeline’s interests in the property will end at the end of March, if you can’t figure out how to make that deal happen, you have missed a golden opportunity. Regardless of that opportunity, we would like that property free of an encampment. Should we not hear from you with a move out date, we will be forced to take action which will include media on a local and national level, a lot of emails and visits to your offices from our community, and a lawsuit.

Thank you for your prompt attention, and I am sorry to be so abrupt – we have tried to be kind, we have tried to be tolerant and understanding of both your situation, and that of the homeless, but we are finished. We feel taken advantage of and ignored, we feel disrespected as a community, and are one big group of angry voters. We are working on a more official call for eviction to come to you after Food Lifeline’s “end of March” date for having that deal figured out.

 

 

 

March HPAC Meeting Agenda

HPAC meeting tomorrow night, 3/27. Agenda includes:

  • Nickelsville: in light of this weekend’s events. We’ve surveyed you in the past to make sure we’re representing our neighborhood accurately, we’d like to get a sense how you feel about it at this point, almost 8 months after our last survey.
  • A presentation with a preview of the raingarden designed for HPIC- we need your input!
  • We MIGHT also be having some wildlife experts join us to speak about living with wildlife in the city- I know there were folks concerned with coyotes- now’s your chance to speak with a professional about them. (but I haven’t gotten confirmation on their attendance yet, sorry!)
See you at HPIC (Highland Park Improvement Club) on 12th and Holden:  meeting at 7pm or at 6:45 to help set up.
In lieu of a potluck this month, we will be serving some dessert treats at the meeting.

Seattle Mayor Candidates Forum

There will be a forum for the 8 announced candidates for Seattle Mayor on April 29 from 6:30 until 8:30 PM. It is being sponsored by the 11th, 34th and 37th Legislative District Democratic Party organizations, and will be at South Seattle Community College, Georgetown Campus. If  there are questions for submittal, there will be a post on their website soon.

Want to See More Street Trees in Highland Park?

Thanks to the voter-supported Bridging the Gap initiative, SDOT is planting over 800 street trees per year, and they are interested in finding neighborhoods where they can plant about 100 trees within (about) a 4 to 5-square block area…. see this website for more information or call 684-TREE (8733) if your section of Highland Park is interested in “growing solutions” by planting trees.

Raingarden Workshop at South Seattle Community College

Stewardship Partners, WSU Extension and the 12,000 Rain Gardens Campaign are hosting 4 more rain garden workshops this spring.  We’re excited that one will be in our neighborhood!  April 11th at the South Seattle Community College, from 6- 8:30 pm.

The workshop will cover the basics of urban runoff, rain garden design, plant selection, maintenance and local incentive programs. It is free and open to the public. RSVPs are much appreciated. Content is geared for home and landowners who are considering a rain garden as a way to improve their landscape, reduce flooding on their property or improve the environment in a meaningful way, but the material will be relevant to anyone wishing to learn more about these amazing, beautiful, and hard working gardens. Hope to see you there!

For more info: www.12000raingardens.org and click on the “Events” tab.

Contacting City Council Members for Food Lifeline

We heard from Food Lifeline at our last meeting, and they promised to send us some information about contacting members of city council to encourage them to move forward on their plans for a new Hunger Relief Solution Center.  Here it is! They have identified the site at the bottom of Highland Park Drive that currently hosts Nickelsville, and are actively working with Nickelsville and the city to find a relocation spot for them. The site would allow Food Lifeline to consolidate and expand operations to secure more food, deliver it to more people, operate even more efficiently, and work toward ending hunger in our community. The major parcels of the land that are needed are currently owned by the City of Seattle and the State of Washington. Work with the state is moving along well, but they need some help in convincing members of the City Council that the new building would be an ideal way to use that land.
That’s where you come in. Political leaders really do listen to their constituents. Speak up on their behalf to help move their vision forward. Please contact city council:

The City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation currently owns part of the site where Food Lifeline hopes to build the new building. The site is not currently being used, nor are there immediate plans for its use.
You can help by sending an email to the City Council membersTim BurgessSally ClarkRichard ConlinNick Licata and Tom Rasmussen. Let them know why you support Food Lifeline and its critical role in our community. Then, be succinct, passionate and direct in covering these points:

  • Food Lifeline needs a new building to increase its capacity to feed hungry children, families and seniors in Seattle
  • An identified site on West Marginal Way is an ideal location
  • The site should be declared surplus and transferred to Food Lifeline so it can serve thousands more hungry people for years to come
  • Ask them specifically for their support and to move quickly in taking action

Time is of the essence. They must move forward to acquire the land within the next few weeks to keep the building plans on schedule! Your investment in the campaign will build a new, consolidated 150,000-square foot Hunger Relief Solution Center where solutions to hunger are real and tangible, executed expertly and efficiently, and focused on ensuring that none of our neighbors goes hungry.

Some Helpful Links to help you help Highland Park

Because the city doesn’t know about our issues, or allocate resources, unless YOU TELL THEM:

Police Non Emergency Number: 206-625-5011

Police  Community On-Line Reporting Program for Property Destruction, Identity Theft, Car Prowls, Auto Accessories, Theft of Property (under $500), Narcotics Activity.

On-going Drug Activity:  call narcotics directly at (206) 684-5797 or our community police team at (206) 615-1976 to report ongoing drug activity, ask to file a “Narcotics Activity Report.” Can also be reported online.

Requesting a city Service, like overgrown vegetation/ impassable sidewalks, abandoned cars in the street, damaged sidewalks, graffiti, pothole report, parking enforcement…

Illegal Dumping

Seattle Animal Shelter, dispatch center:  386-7387 ext 7 or request service here. This is to report failure to leash, failure to scoop, injured or dead animals/wildlife, stray pets, dangerous animals, animal cruelty, things like that.

Filing an anonymous complaint, especially for things like junk cars in yards, junk stored outside in residential zones, and vacant properties opened to unauthorized entry.

Spring Clean

Here at HPAC, we try to help you help yourselves and your neighborhood- so we’re passing on this information about Seattle’s Spring Clean, which is held each year in April and May. The  city will supply things like garbage grabbers, gloves, bags, safety vests, and paint/supplies to take care of graffiti. All you have to do is get some neighbors together, pick a date, and sign up. We encourage you to take charge and set something up for your block or that little part of Highland Park that you think could use some love. As we hear specifics of time and place, we’ll publish Spring Clean events happening in Highland Park that other neighbors have set up so you can participate without leading an event. Sign up here, it’s easy- and let us know when/where your event is if you want us to include it here.

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