Highland Park Action Committee’s response for permit extension for Camp Second Chance (CSC)

March 4, 2019

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

Re:  Camp Second Chance permit extension

Director Johnson:

In response to requests that Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) support a permit extension for Camp Second Chance (CSC) at the camp’s current location at 9701 Myers Way South in the West Seattle neighborhood of Highland Park, HPAC’s executive committee considered the matter and has come to the decision, supported by our membership, not to endorse or advocate for another permit extension at the Myers Way location. 

Also contributing to this decision is the input from residents of other neighborhoods near Camp Second Chance, including unincorporated King County, Highline, Top Hat, and White Center.

We did not come to this decision easily. We know that homelessness is an urgent issue that affects our neighbors and our communities.

In order to understand the wishes of our neighborhood and unincorporated neighborhoods that surround the CSC site now, HPAC has gone through another significant community engagement process over the last few months.

In December 2018, HPAC leadership received three emails requesting that HPAC support a permit extension for Camp Second Chance at the existing Myers Way location.  Requests were from Cinda Stenger, a lay leader at Alki UCC and CSC Community Advisory Committee member, from S. Denise Henrikson, a volunteer at Camp Second Chance and member of Westside Interfaith Network (WIN), and from Martin Westerman, Director of Seattle Green Spaces Coalition (SGSC).

This prompted HPAC’s leadership to hold a listening session at our January 23, 2019 meeting to understand the wishes of neighbors, stakeholders, community groups, and businesses in order to inform HPAC’s response to the permit extension. Over 40 people attended, with a significant number of the attendees being from Camp Second Chance. Opening and closing statements were made by Eric Davis, Camp Second Chance Manager, Martin Westerman, Director of Seattle Green Spaces Coalition (SGSC), Cinda Stenger, a lay leader at Alki UCC on the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee, Barbara Dobkin, a leader with North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, and me, Gunner Scott, acting chair of HPAC.

What we came away with was that Camp Second Chance has been a model encampment, particularly for individuals working on their sobriety, and there was support for the encampment in the room.  There was also opposition, most strenuously expressed by residents living closest to CSC who are the most negatively affected by CSC and the unsanctioned camps, RVs, and rubbish collecting around the area.

Many spoke about the City not honoring repeated requests to deal with those unsanctioned encampments, RVs, and rubbish accumulations that increased significantly over the last two years since Camp Second Chance was established. RVs were originally staged on Myers Way in 2015 for the RV safe lot that did not happen, but were allowed to remain while the attendant issues with trash, broken furniture, and car parts strewn along Myers Way were not addressed adequately or timely.  

Despite continual requests from HPAC since 2016 for enforcement action against unsanctioned encampments and RVs, it was only 3 months ago that the greenbelt between SR-509 and Myers Way was cleared, including removal of 190 tons of trash. 

Another matter is the ongoing lack of coordination between SPD and the King County Sheriff’s office when law enforcement issues arise in the Myers Way area.  In 2016, HPAC requested a memorandum of understanding between SPD and King County, however, that request is still unfulfilled according to the memo dated Feb 26, 2019 from Jackie St. Louis, Unsheltered Crisis Response:

“Request Summary

Request 3 – an MOA or some agreement to address the jurisdictional issues between Seattle Police and the King County Sheriff’s office, is a work product that we’ve desired for a long time.  I want to thank George for scheduling meeting last October {2016} with the King County Sheriff, SPD, and KC Councilmembers McDermott and Fitzgibbon, and Deputy KC Exec Fred Jarrett.  But if we could *formalize* what came out of that meeting, I think that would be useful.

Status

George Scarola led during that time the community engagement for the City’s unsheltered homeless response. In the Myers Way neighborhood George brought together community to discuss a range of issues which included law enforcement and safety.

We confirmed with George that the October [2016] meeting did not happen in the configuration described above. We do know that the topic was discussed at several community meetings with representatives from SPD and the King County Sheriff’s office. During those meetings both SPD and King County 911 dispatch relayed that from their experience calls are efficiently routed. The experience of community is that reporting crime and requesting help on the border is clunky and confusing.

We cannot confirm action around creating a MOU.”

Additionally, how future unsanctioned encampments, RVs, rubbish clean up, and law enforcement will be handled and by whom remains unclear and unresolved.

In addition to our community listening session, we also provided an anonymous survey to which the Highland Park / Riverview community responded and informed the HPAC executive committee of the community’s position on the CSC permit extension request.

Of those surveyed and living in the Highland Park / Riverview neighborhoods, of which HPAC represents, 57% did not support an extension for Camp Second Chance at the Myers Way location.

Survey respondent comments included:

“It is time for another neighborhood to host. No one neighborhood should have to shoulder the burden. The concept of this camp can be moved to another location.”

“Hosting should be a shared responsibility by all neighborhoods in the city and the timeline should be respected for all neighborhoods hosting.”

“The illegal encampment and RV surrounding the area should be considered as issues deriving from the authorized encampment. They should be addressed effectively before any extension. Also, it is unfair for the neighborhood to host an encampment for so long.”

“Do not let the City set a precedent of perpetually extending any camp’s stay at one location. The City should keep their promise to the surrounding neighborhoods. The goal is to get C2C residents HOUSED.”

Of those respondents supporting the CSC permit extension, the majority (58%) were residents located beyond the neighborhoods immediately around the Myers Way site.

Comments included:

“This is a model community that is working and changing people’s lives.”

“Camp Second Chance is seen as a model in addressing the housing crisis – it provides people with safety and community within the constraints of RV living. The fact is people are homeless and live how they can – if there’s a model that works well until this crisis is solved, I think it should be supported. That said, the other residents near Camp Second Chance need to be supported by police and other infrastructure to minimize impacts on their lives and property by unsanctioned homeless”

We also agree that Camp Second Chance appears to be a model that works when there is no other option, but an outdoor tents/sheds encampment is not ideal. The model also highlights the need for more peer-led sober transitional living programs.

But we feel that this “support’ for Camp Second Chance remaining at Myers Way is actually best summed up in the letter sent from Martin Westerman, Director of Seattle Greenspaces Coalition:

“Our SGSC question is, what conditions would HPIC/HPAC need satisfied to keep the camp there?  Moving it to another West Seattle location may only create the same challenges we’re facing now.  My impression is that, intentionally or reluctantly, CSC draws homeless folk seeking food and drink, and thereby attracts unauthorized homeless campers to the forest.  Are there other factors at play for you and other neighbors?  Rather than repeat the problems in another West Seattle location, we’d like to solve them at Myers.”

Over the past 10 years, Highland Park has hosted three encampments (Nickelsville on two occasions and Camp Second Chance since 2016) and in 2015 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 those RVs attract more derelict vehicles of all kinds.

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.

Although Camp Second Chance has been sanctioned by the City since 2017, it has actually been located in the neighborhood for the last 2 years and 8 months when it moved from Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila to Myers Way on or about July 18, 2016, as reported by Camp Second Chance to the West Seattle blog:

“Until July 18, the camp had a legal site at Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila. They were there for three months, as per their agreement with the church, and have been invited to move back there in January. However, they were unable to find another host site in time, and they wanted to honor their three month agreement with the church, so they have moved to a Seattle city owned lot that has been unused and vacant for several years. They are continuing to search for a new permitted site sponsored by a religious organization and plan to move as soon as they have located one.”[1]

After 8 months of being an unsanctioned encampment at the Myers Way site, the City of Seattle officially permitted the site in March 2017. On June 7, 2018, the Human Services Department extended the permit allowing Camp Second Chance to remain at 9701 Myers Way South for an additional 12 months, until March 2019. 

We agree with sentiment from the 2015 Director’s Report Transitional Encampment Interim Use Amendments:

“…to permit transitional encampments for homeless individuals as an interim use…”

Therefore, the Highland Park Action Committee requests:

  1. That the City of Seattle honor its commitment to our neighbors in the area and follow the law;

    1. City of Seattle’s Ordinance 124747 only allows a sanctioned encampment at a site for up to two years, and then a 12 month minimum lapse is required before another encampment can be located on the same site.  
    1. Accordingly, Camp Second Chance must be relocated to another site by the end March 2019, but not in any part of the Highland Park area including Myers Way or any another location in the South Delridge area
    1. A 3-year moratorium on any future encampments in our neighborhood is also requested.
  • That Camp Second Chance remain the same model at a new location; and,

  • That the Myers Way parcel be moved into the Seattle Parks Dept portfolio this year to be land banked.

If the City does not honor the law, then the City is doing a disservice now and setting a precedent for future negotiations.  Other neighborhoods as well will not embrace a sanctioned encampment knowing that the City of Seattle does not honor its commitments.

As we have previously mentioned in other letters regarding sanctioning of encampments or RV lots in our neighborhood, HPAC’s position remains that Highland Park has disproportionately borne the responsibility of accommodating the city’s responses to homelessness, hosting 3 large encampments and absorbing the increase in related crime over the preceding decade.

Since 2016, the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) has sought resolution from the City of Seattle and specifically 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.)

Three years have passed and to date, NONE of these requests have been enacted or fully acknowledge. Instead, the methods that City agencies have employed have lacked transparency, accountability, and eroded neighborhood trust in City government.

As a reminder in 2007, Highland Park and Myers Way were both identified as potential sites for a jail, which the neighborhood was not in favor of and organized against. Later in 2008, the first Nickelsville encampment started in Highland Park at the Glass Yard site. It was eventually moved, but then returned in 2011 where it grew too large and unmanageable. 

There is a long documented history of the City either being unable or unwilling to address the safety concerns including: from not being able to evict the problem campers from Nickelsville, to those who were evicted moving into the Greenbelt across the street, to increase in petty crime in the neighborhood. Some neighbors expressed feeling trapped in an unsafe situation and ignored by City officials during the time Nickelsville was in Highland Park. All sentiments echoed by the current situation on Myers Way from the unsanctioned encampments to the RVs.

It cannot be stressed enough that Highland Park continues to suffer from a historical lack of public investment and our neighborhood has seen no commensurate redress while we have hosted these encampments.

I welcome any questions and we look forward to seeing a swift plan for Camp Second Chance’s relocation by the end of the month.

Sincerely,

Gunner Scott

Chair

hpacchair@gmail.com

CC: Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
Seattle City Council Members

 homelessness@seattle.gov


[1] UPDATE: New encampment on Myers Way: ‘Camp Second Chance’, West Seattle Blog, Accessed 2/20/2019 https://westseattleblog.com/2016/07/new-encampment-on-myers-way-camp-second-chance/

Should HPAC Support Camp Second Chance Permit Extension?

Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) has been requested to support the permit extension by two community groups, Martin Westerman, Director of Seattle Green Spaces Coalition (SGSC) and CSC Community Advisory Committee. We have also received emails from neighbors about issues with encampments and RVs  in the neighborhood not being addressed.

Please take our short anonymous survey by Feb. 14, 2019 so HPAC executive committee can understand the wishes of the neighborhood in responding to this request.

Missed our listening session last week?
West Seattle Blog has video of our community listening session from last week here https://westseattleblog.com/2019/01/would-extending-encampments-stay-be-a-broken-promise-or-unique-opportunity-heres-how-highland-park-action-committees-listening-session-went/

Link to Survey: https://goo.gl/forms/jDaNye879dKO4FDC3

Background:
“Camp Second Chance is one of six encampments authorized and funded by the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department as part of the City’s emergency response to homelessness.” Founded on April, 9th 2016 – officially permitted on March 2017 by the City of Seattle. The Human Services Department extended the permit on June 7, 2018 for the Myers Way/Camp Second Chance to remain at 9701 Myers Way South for an additional 12 months, until March 2019. There is a request for a continued permit.

The Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) Section 23.42.056, Subsection E.1 states that a transitional encampment may only be permitted for 12 months at a site, with only one allowed extension for an additional 12 months. Further, SMC 23.42.056, Subsection E.2 states that a time period of 12 months must elapse after the end of the period in which a transitional encampment was sited at any property before another encampment can be permitted at that site. 

On June 7, 2018, the Seattle Human Services Department announced that the permit for siting of Camp Second Chance at the Myers Way Parcels had been extended for 12 months until March 2019 (part of that extension was applied retroactively at the time of this announcement): https://homelessness.seattle.gov/hsd-recommends-extending-permit-for-camp-second-chance-on-myers-way/

Next HPAC Meeting is February 27, 2019

Annual Meeting
Election for HPAC executive committee positions 

Please see our By-laws at https://hpacinfo.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/hpac-2018-by-laws.pdf
To nominate yourself and/or another HPAC member – please provide either via email to hpacchair@gmail.com or verbally in person at our Jan or at our annual meeting on Feb 27, 2019:

Following info: Name, position sought, email, phone, address, and up to a 75 word response to the following:

  • How much time a month can you commit to meetings and serving the mission of HPAC? 
  • What lived/professional skills, experiences, and resources would you bring to the position sought?
  • What do you like about the Highland Park community?
  • What could be one improved in Highland Park?

Positions Up for Election Include:

  1. Chairperson(s) – The duties include preside at all HPAC meetings and Executive Committee meetings, prepare agendas, report on the actions of the Executive Committee, maintain momentum of programs initiated by the HPAC. (10 -15 hours per month)
  2. Assistant/Vice Chairperson(s) – The duties include to serve in the absence of the Chairperson, to develop and encourage broader membership participation, and to plan and organize special projects and functions. Serve as liaison to Delridge District Council/Southwest District Council and other Councils as needed. (10 -15 hours per month)
  3. Secretary – The duties include notify the membership of the next meeting date, time, take the minutes of the HPAC meetings, with a summary of actions taken and assignments made ready to be presented at each subsequent meeting. (5 -10 hours per month)
  4. Treasurer – The duties include receive and disburse funds as instructed by the Executive Committee and the HPAC, works with our fiscal sponsor in record keeping, and reports on the financial position of the HPAC at each meeting. (5-10 hours per month)

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) Doors open at 6:30 – Meeting from 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Neighborhood Street Fund Program 2019

HPAC is recommending the following projects for prioritization:

  • Duwamish Longhouse Pedestrian Safety & Accessibility Project
  • New Pedestrian Route between South Park and North Delridge/White Center
  • Highland Parkway Roundabout
  • Holden Street Improvements between 16th and Delridge
  • Total replacement of sidewalks along 8th avenue sw btwn. Henderson and Roxbury.

Community Prioritization phase of Neighborhood Street Fund 2019-2021 cycle is now open! 

Tell us what street improvements your community needs most by scoring projects proposed by neighbors in your district now through February 22. The highest-scored projects will proceed to the Voting phase in Spring.

How to score:
Online: prioritize projects and participate in an online dialogue with your neighbors without leaving your home!
http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/neighborhood-street-fund/projects-map

In-person: attend a 90-minute Community Prioritization Meeting in your district. Meetings will include presentations by SDOT staff of each project proposed in your district. (Please note that presentations will begin promptly at the meeting start, so arrive on time! To request interpretation and or another accommodation, please contact us at: nsf@seattle.gov or (206) 733-9361before the meeting date.

3 Tips for scoring:
Plan ahead: if you will be joining a community meeting, plan accordingly to arrive no later than the meeting start time. 
Do your research: in-depth project proposals are available on our website. Get to know the projects proposed in your district prior to attending a meeting or scoring online. 
Share: invite friends, family, and neighbors to participate, even if they reside in a different district.

Ready to score?
Visit our website to score online or check the meeting schedule! http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/neighborhood-street-fund/projects-map

Thank you for your continued interest in the NSF Program. We look forward to your participation!
Neighborhood Street Fund Program
http://www.seattle.gov/NSF 
If you need this information translated, please call 206-733-9361
Call: 206-733-9361.
Si usted necesita esta información traducida en español, por favor llame al 206-733-9361.
如果您需要把下列資訊翻譯成中文,請致電 206-733-9361.

Follow-up Letter Concerning the Myers Way Parcels and Sanctioned Encampments

From Charlie Omana, Chair, Highland Park Action Committee:

Neighbors,

On April 3 HPAC sent a letter to Seattle’s Human Services Department to follow-up on previous letters submitted in March of this year and December of 2016 for which we have yet to receive a response.

As you may be aware, Catherine Lester, Director of the Human Services Department, has tendered her resignation and her final day will be May 1, 2018. As such, I made sure to also address this letter to Jason Johnson, the current Deputy Director who has been appointed by the mayor to oversee the department in the interim upon Ms. Lester’s departure.

Given the length of time that has elapsed since HPAC’s original letter in 2016, I felt it pertinent to request a response from the city no later than Friday, April 27, 2018 addressing the concerns of Highland Park residents and surrounding communities concerning the Myers Way Parcels’ conversion to parks and the overarching issues related to having encampments in our communities.

I must inform you that at the most recent Camp Second Chance Community Advisory meeting, there was discussion about allowing the camp to remain in place longer than the 2 years allowed by city ordinance. Presently, sanctioned encampments can only stay at a site for 12 months, with an option to renew for a 12-month extension. Any changes to this ordinance must be made by the city council. Should the council decide to take up such an amendment, it may prolong the length of time for which Seattle residents and our neighbors in unincorporated King County can expect to see usable park space at Myers Way.

As the city mulls permitting Camp Second Chance for another 12 months at the Myers Way site, it is only appropriate that the city assume responsibility to the community by addressing our 3 requests (found in the letter text below) in turn:

April 3, 2018

Catherine Lester, Director

Jason Johnson, Deputy Director

Department of Human Services

City of Seattle

Seattle Municipal Tower – 58th fl.

700 Fifth Avenue

Seattle, WA 98124-421

Director Lester and Deputy Director Johnson:

I am following up on a letter that was sent to the Human Services Department on March 8, 2018 concerning the Myers Way Parcels, specifically, and sanctioned homeless encampments, generally. That letter, in turn, was a follow-up to letter sent on December 13, 2016 to George Scarola, Director of Homelessness under the administration of former mayor Edward B. Murray.

As you are aware, Camp Second Chance became established on the Myers Way Parcels in July 2016, meaning that the encampment has already been present at this site (in both unsanctioned and sanctioned capacities) for one year and nine months. Our most recent letter to you requested that Camp Second Chance not be permitted for an additional 12 months on Myers Way, and that a new site be procured for this camp outside of the boundaries of the Highland Park neighborhood.

In addition to not renewing Camp Second Chance’s permit on Myers Way, our letter requested the following three things:

1) Adoption of a set of best practices (manifested as our Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments which are enclosed below) by which the City of Seattle will abide prior to sanctioning an encampment in a given neighborhood.

2) An accelerated timeline and plan on when and how the Finance and Administrative Services Department will relinquish the Myers Way Parcels to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

3) A plan on how jurisdictional issues that arise from the presence of sanctioned and unsanctioned encampments at the interface of city, unincorporated county, and state land will be resolved.

Allow me to reiterate that per the 2010 United States Census, Highland Park has a lower median income ($47,600) and a higher proportion of residents who identify as a person of color (50.2%) compared to Seattle as a whole ($74,458 and 33.7%, respectively). Our historically working-class neighborhood has suffered from a lack of investment going back at least a century and from being redlined in the 1930s. Yet we have overwhelmingly borne the burden of the city’s response to homelessness by hosting three encampments over the last ten years and serving as a staging area for a proposed safe lot for those residing in vehicles.

The residents of Highland Park and surrounding communities rallied to preserve the Myers Way Parcels as recreational space for the enjoyment of all citizens. Despite our limited resources, we have risen to the challenges brought by the homelessness crisis and have gone beyond what most other neighborhoods in Seattle have been asked to do. The neighborhood of Highland Park now implores the City of Seattle to demonstrate its commitment to equity by responding to our requests as outlined above.

To that end, we respectfully ask to receive a response to our requests by Friday, April 27, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Sincerely,

Charlie Omana

Chair, Highland Park Action Committee

hpacchair@gmail.com

Enclosure

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

Suggested Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments

For the Neighborhood

1. Transparency:

A. Provide information what other sites were investigated and the reasons why that site was chosen.

i. For the Myers Way site – why no other site in West Seattle were viable.

B. Provide information on how the race and social justice tool was used in deciding upon the proposed site.

C. Identify and work with the neighborhood groups/committees to put together community info sessions including locations, dates, and outreach methods to present the plan for the neighborhoods and the encampment.

D. Develop outreach materials that are multilingual and provide language and sign interpreters at community meetings.

E. Utilize trained facilitators to run community meetings and have present the Dept. of Neighborhoods, Dept. of Health, Director of Homelessness, SPD, the non-profit charged with outreach and support of the encampment, and any other relevant Departments and decision makers that can answer questions and make decisions. Take our feedback and incorporate any additional needs/resources.

F. Publish final plan prior to encampment being permitted.

2. Accountability:

A. Provide a written agreement between Neighborhood Group(s) and the City on how long the site will remain, the size of the encampment, how the encampment will be constructed, and how it will be deconstructed.

i. For the Myers Way site – we are requesting the one year permit for the sanctioned encampment to be retroactive to when the camp was established in July 1, 2016. Therefore, a one year permit until July 1, 2017.

ii. That Highland Park, Myers Way or any other sites in the surrounding South Delridge/Westwood/Roxbury Hill/ Arbor Heights/White Center/North Highline area will not be chosen again for 10 years.

iii. The Myers Way encampment will not grow beyond 35 tents and up to 50 people and will continue as a clean and sober camp.

iv. Why is it tents and not tiny homes?

B. Provide a plan and outline the increase of police, fire, EMS, and other services.

i. Specific to Myers Way – outline of how situations will be handled that cross city lines between Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s office.

C. Assign a consistent contact person within the City to be a single point of contact for neighbors and businesses for specific issues related to the encampment, as well as the unsanctioned encampments/RVs in the area, outside of any emergency situations.

i. This contact person should coordinate any needs between other departments – such as SPU, SDOT, etc…

D. Implement programs to help reduce homelessness and crime such as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and REACH

i. In Highland Park and South Delridge within the next 3-6 months.

E. Provide a timeline and plan for addressing existing unsanctioned encampments and RVs in the area and how any future unsanctioned encampments that may develop as a result of the sanctioned encampment being in the area will be handled.

F. Provide a timeline and plan for addressing existing abandoned homes/squatters in the area.

G. Evaluate and increase of lighting in the area – especially near any bus stops, residential and business properties and have regular trash/dumping pick up.

i. Provide regular trash/dumping pick up at least 2x per week for any problem areas that surround an encampment on Myers Way

H. Plan and execute regular public education sessions on issues of homelessness and substance abuse with the appropriate non-profits for the community at large.

I. Provide updates and feedback sessions via community meetings at least every three months in addition to the community advisory council.

J. Provide each of the local community groups the opportunity to each have a seat on the community advisory council.

Letter to City of Seattle Director of Homelessness – HPAC’s request regarding sanctioning Myers Way encampment

To: George Scarola, Director of Homelessness

CC: Seattle City Council

Human Service and Public Health Committee

Dominique Stephens, Office of the Mayor, External Affairs

December 13, 2016

Mr. Scarola,

Thank you for reaching out to the neighborhoods surrounding Myers Way Parcel last week and beginning the discussion about sanctioning the encampment of Camp Second Chance.

Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) is Highland Park’s Community Group. We are an all volunteer & not for profit neighborhood organization and our role is to be an advocate for Highland Park and to affect positive change in our neighborhood. For the last several years, we have advocated for infrastructure including crosswalks, sidewalks, trails, safety enhancements, zoning changes for affordable housing, and additional resources so we can continue to build a thriving interconnected community.

Since the announcement from the Mayor’s office on December 1, 2016 about Myers Way Parcel as one of the three new homeless encampments sites, Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) has heard from many neighbors about their questions, concerns and fears, as well as support for Camp Second Chance.

HPAC wants to be part of the solution to ending homelessness in the City of Seattle.

We want to support our homeless community members. Our intention is not to pit the neighborhood against Camp Second Chance.  In order for this encampment to be successful, we also need the City to work with us. The announcement did however raise questions of equity of resources and parity with other parts of Seattle.

What we want is accountability from the City of Seattle to the neighborhoods surrounding Myers Way Parcel.

Accountability for both those who are dealing with homelessness and for the renters, homeowners, and businesses in Highland Park and the neighborhoods that surround Myers Way Parcel.

When Camp Second Chance arrived at Myers Way at the end of June 2016, members of HPAC visited and talked with those living there, we also brought supplies, and later, advocated for the encampment. When the threat to evict the Camp came down this past summer, HPAC steering committee members reached out to Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s office asking that the camp not be evicted. Having met with the campers and seen how it was run as a clean and sober environment and understanding that Myers Way was a last option until they could go back sometime in early 2017 to the church in Tukwila that was hosting them previously we felt that evicting this group was not what we wanted to see, nor do we want to see now. Stability is what will help folks get back on their feet.

In October, HPAC held an educational panel with Polly Trout, Ph.D., Founder, Patacara Community Services, a member from the encampment, and Ruth Herbold, Executive Director of Elizabeth Gregory Home, to help the Highland Park and the greater communities surrounding Myers Way have better understand the issues and experiences that folks dealing with homeless face as well to dispel negative stereotypes about who is homeless. We did this to build compassion and understanding, knowing that the Camp Second Chance was there and probably would be for some time.

Now that the encampment is to be sanctioned, what can we expect? That was the question we were hoping to get answered last week, but many felt they left with more questions than answers that night.

The City of Seattle has had sanctioned encampments for over a year now and yet, we have not been given a concrete plan what will happen and what we can expect.

We are requesting the City for a plan on how additional resources will be provided to mitigate the impact an encampment will have on the neighborhood.

This plan should be for the entire neighborhood, not just logistics for how the camp will be set up and what amenities will be provided to the encampment, but what the City will also do to provide additional resources and services for neighbors living around the encampment.

We are asking the City to develop an encompassing Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments for Highland Park and surrounding neighborhoods and any other neighborhoods in the future when establishing an encampment. This plan would prepare neighbors for what to expect in terms of additional resources, help build relationships, repair trust with the City, and to reduce anxiety for neighbors, including our renters, homeowners, students, and elderly.

Suggested Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments

For the Neighborhood

  1. Transparency:

    1. Provide information what other sites were investigated and the reasons why that site was chosen.

      1. For the Myers Way site – why no other site in West Seattle were viable.

    2. Provide information on how the race and social justice tool was used in deciding upon the proposed site.

    3. Identify and work with the neighborhood groups/committees to put together community info sessions including locations, dates, and outreach methods to present the plan for the neighborhoods and the encampment.

    4. Develop outreach materials that are multilingual and provide language and sign interpreters at community meetings.

    5. Utilize trained facilitators to run community meetings and have present the Dept. of Neighborhoods, Dept of Health, Director of Homelessness, SPD, the non-profit charged with outreach and support of the encampment, and any other relevant Departments and decision makers that can answer questions and make decisions. Take our feedback and incorporate any additional needs/resources.

    6. Publish final plan prior to encampment being permitted.

  2. Accountability:

    1. Provide a written agreement between Neighborhood Group(s) and the City on how long the site will remain, the size of the encampment, how the encampment will be constructed, and how it will be deconstructed.

      1. For the Myers Way site – we are requesting the one year permit for the sanctioned encampment to be retroactive to when the camp was established in July 1, 2016. Therefore, a one year permit until July 1, 2017.

      2. That Highland Park, Myers Way or any other sites in the surrounding South Delridge/Westwood/Roxbury Hill/ Arbor Heights/White Center/North Highline area will not be chosen again for 10 years.

      3. The Myers Way encampment will not grow beyond 35 tents and up to 50 people and will continue as a clean and sober camp.

      4. Why is it tents and not tiny homes?

    2. Provide a plan and outline the increase of police, fire, EMS, and other services.

      1. Specific to Myers Way – outline of how situations will be handled that cross city lines between Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s office.

    3. Assign a consistent contact person within the City to be a single point of contact for neighbors and businesses for specific issues related to the encampment, as well as the unsanctioned encampments/RVs in the area, outside of any emergency situations.

      1. This contact person should coordinate any needs between other departments – such as SPU, SDOT, etc…

    4. Implement programs to help reduce homelessness and crime such as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and REACH

      1. In Highland Park and South Delridge within the next 3-6 months.

    5. Provide a timeline and plan for addressing existing unsanctioned encampments and RVs in the area and how any future unsanctioned encampments that may develop as a result of the sanctioned encampment being in the area will be handled.

    6. Provide a timeline and plan for addressing existing abandoned homes/squatters in the area.

    7. Evaluate and increase of lighting in the area – especially near any bus stops, residential and business properties and have regular trash/dumping pick up.

      1. Provide regular trash/dumping pick up at least 2x per week for any problem areas that surround an encampment on Myers Way

    8. Plan and execute regular public education sessions on issues of homelessness and substance abuse with the appropriate non-profits for the community at large.

    9. Provide updates and feedback sessions via community meetings at least every three months in addition to the community advisory council.

    10. Provide each of the local community groups the opportunity to each have a seat on the community advisory council.

Understand the Impact of Stressful Environments on Neighborhoods


In addition to developing and implementing Neighborhood Protocols for Sanctioned Encampments, City officials are encouraged to learn the history of the neighborhood in order to understand what the challenges have been, including issues with crime and how that has been addressed, past encampments, issues with unsanctioned camps, issues of infrastructure need and unmet requests, and the demographics of the neighborhood. Having this understanding going into a neighborhood will help to build trust and working relationships with community members.


If the neighborhood has had a history of chronic environmental stress and/or community trauma, as Highland Park has, it undermines both individual and community resilience in a neighborhood. Social disorganization, crime, and signs of physical deterioration (e.g. vacant housing, litter, graffiti) in a neighborhood can signal to residents that their immediate environment is unsafe.

The City of Seattle has had a long history of neglecting to increase infrastructure and resources in Highland Park and the surrounding neighborhoods in the Delridge area, from poor performing schools to ever increasing traffic, lack of sidewalks, a food desert, and poor bus service. These issues have been raised for years, some for over 70 years, with little progress.

“The impact of trauma extends beyond the individuals who directly witness or experience violence. Vicarious trauma impacts, for example, service providers, first responders and residents in high-violence communities. The result is both high levels of trauma across the population and a breakdown of social networks, social relationships and positive social norms across the community—all of which could otherwise be protective against violence”

Neighborhoods that are disproportionately exposed to psychosocial hazards such as crime and deterioration are often also without the resources necessary for coping with this chronic stress, such as social support.

There is a need for acknowledgement and understanding that City officials are requesting a community take on the additional burden of an encampment and that some of these communities are also simultaneously experiencing community trauma from persistent stress from crime, violence, deteriorating public spaces, under resourced infrastructure, concentrated poverty, and lack of opportunities. These communities will then need additional resources and support from the City to address current issues and to start to heal from community trauma.

“Healing from this trauma requires that the roads, buildings, parks, transportation and public services be improved and maintained so they encourage positive social interaction and relationships, as well as healthy behaviors and activities”

Chronic environmental stress points on Highland Park residents

Highland Park is a mixed race/mixed income community that has faced historic redlining, has a lower median income as compared to Seattle overall (22% lower than Seattle overall), with 81% of students at Highland Park Elementary on Free or Reduced lunch (May 2016), higher percentage of single parent families (13% as compared to 8% in Seattle overall), and higher percentage of those who speak little to no English (10% vs. 5% for Seattle over all) and 28% of our neighbors are immigrants as compared to 18% for Seattle over all.


We still feel the effects of that redlining today, with street infrastructure improvements being requested and not addressed; under-performing schools; gang violence; vacant homes and business; cuts to transit; little to no community based services; and located within a food desert to name some of structural conditions neighbors are living under.

In 2007/2008, Highland Park and Myers Way were both identified as potential sites for a jail, which the neighborhood was not in favor of and organized against. Later in 2008, the first Nickelsville encampment started in Highland Park at the Glass Yard site. It was eventually moved until it returned in 2011.

The 2011, Nickelsville site grew too large and became unmanageable and with that a long documented history of the City either being unable or unwilling to address the safety concerns of Nickelsville. From not being able to evict the problem campers from Nickelsville, to those who were evicted moving into the Greenbelt across the street, to increase in petty crime in the neighborhood. Some neighbors expressed feeling trapped in an unsafe situation and ignored by City officials during the time Nickelsville was in Highland Park.

For example: From Seattle Times

“Safety concerns  – Police say they respond to every 911 call and make arrests if there’s evidence of a crime. McGinn ordered stepped-up patrols in the neighborhood after residents wrote Police Chief John Diaz on March 19 [2013] to complain about enforcement.

But Nickelsville residents say they’ve been told by responding officers that the police can’t enforce camp rules and evict problem residents because the entire encampment is on city property illegally.

At a meeting with neighbors last week, Southwest Precinct Commander Capt. Joe Kessler said of Nickelsville, “Whatever rules are in place are not legal rules,” according to a report in the West Seattle Blog.”

It took the threat of lawsuit for the City to finally step in and make changes to how the City deals with encampments. After “…a $1.65 million claim against the city by a neighboring business owner who said the encampment hurt his property value, the city decided to evict the campers who have illegally squatted at the site for two years.”

This is where some of fears and concerns are coming from going into this process of sanctioning an encampment in this neighborhood again. This will be the 3rd encampment in this neighborhood, not including the various encampments throughout the Duwamish Greenbelt.

These are also some of the same safety concerns HPAC has heard from neighbors about this encampment to be sanctioned on Myers Way.

HPAC wants to work with the City to make sure that Camp Second Chance is advocated for and welcomed. We do have concerns that the self run camp, which is doing a great job, will be pushed beyond its own capacity to manage when they are asked to increase its size beyond the tight knit group that is there.

Lastly, this site is surrounded by three communities of unincorporated King County, which have even less resources, the complications of jurisdiction lines between Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s office, and people who have no formal voice in this process because of living on those border lines. HPAC is concerned they will not going given any additional resources or even be able to advocate for more police in their neighborhoods, because they are not part of Seattle.

We look forward to continuing to dialog and work with the surrounding committee groups along with the City of Seattle to address the issues of homelessness during this crisis.

It is also our hope that the City of Seattle will provide HPAC and the surrounding neighborhoods with a plan based off our suggested protocols within a reasonable time frame, preferably before mid January 2017. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to your response.


Sincerely,

Gunner Scott, Chair
HPAC
Hpacchair@gmail.com

Citations:
Pinderhughes H, Davis R, Williams M. (2015). Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: A Framework for Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma. Prevention Institute, Oakland CA. https://www.preventioninstitute.org/sites/default/files/publications/Adverse%20Community%20Experiences%20and%20Resilience.pdf
Karb, R. A., Elliott, M. R., Dowd, J. B., & Morenoff, J. D. (2012). Neighborhood-level stressors, social support, and diurnal patterns of cortisol: the Chicago Community Adult Health Study. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 75(6), 1038–1047. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.031

HPAC Updates: Myers Way Encampment and what this means for our community

Hello Highland Park Neighbors

Happy Holidays! Thank you for supporting HPAC and our neighborhood.

As many may have learned, Mayor Murray has announced that Myers Way Parcel will be one of the three new homeless encampments sites. HPAC was given notice of this at approximately 7p via email the night before the announcement. Over the last day, we have reached out to our neighbors in Highline/Top Hat/White Center, as those communities surround the area, but do not have representation as they are part of unincorporated King County.

Currently, Camp Second Chance has been in that location and the intention so far we have heard from the city is that Camp Second Chance will continue to be there, with an expansion.

HPAC is looking forward to working with Highline Neighborhood group, along with our neighbors in Delridge area to gather information about the plan for this encampment, what the needs will be for our communities in terms of police/security, unauthorized camping in other sections of the Greenbelt, mitigating the environmental impact of the wetlands and Hamm Creek, addressing the issues of dumping and RVs along Myers Way, and other needs that may arise.

As we know the issue of homelessness is complex and complicated – there is no quick or easy fix. Our intentions are to be a supportive community to all of our neighbors, with the understanding that we all want safe, peaceful, and welcoming neighborhoods and streets.

HPAC is disappointed that no other West Seattle location was chosen, we see this as an issue of parity with the rest of West Seattle. We are being asked to host another encampment when no other West Seattle neighborhood has done so. As you know, Highland Park was the site of Nickelsville for three years and was a potential site for an RV safe lot. While this is not on the same location, the same factors are in place and much like the concerns we had with hosting the RV site at the bottom of Highland Park Way, the Myers Way site is far from ideal, with limited transit options, a significant distance from food options, and lack of connection to surrounding communities and services. For further background see West Seattle Blog’s coverage.

HPAC will continue to advocate for neighborhood and our homeless neighbors, but without the City of Seattle addressing our lack of overall infrastructure improvements for the Highland Park area and without parity with the rest of Seattle, it feels as though our neighborhood continues to a bear burden that more resourced areas of Seattle do not.

Highland Park is a mixed race/mixed income community that has faced historic redlining, has a lower median income as compared to Seattle overall (22% lower than Seattle overall), with 81% of students at Highland Park Elementary on Free or Reduced lunch (May 2016), higher percentage of single parent families (13% as compared to 8% in Seattle overall), and higher percentage of those who speak little to no English (10% vs. 5% for Seattle over all) and 28% of our neighbors are immigrants as compared to 18% for Seattle over all.

With this in mind, HPAC will continue to aggressively advocate for increased resources for Highland Park Elementary school, address the dangerous intersection of Highland Park Way and SW Holden, and Highland Parkway overall, a major egress out of West Seattle, again request the LEAD program to implemented in our neighborhood, increased transit including reworking the 131 bus route, increased buses overall, and finishing installing sidewalks and drainage, to name a few.

Over the next few weeks, we will have the opportunity to discuss with city leaders our community concerns and needs. I would like to represent and reflect these questions, requests, and concerns as accurately and authentically as possible. I also request that you also directly address city officials with your concerns and needs.

We have been alerted that there will be a community meeting, sometime in December or January and we will notify the community once the date and location are set.

My ask of you:

  1. Please email me in the next week with your questions, concerns, needs, and requests regarding the encampment at hpacchair@gmail.com so that I may compile them and bring to meetings with city officials.
  2. Attend our next HPAC meeting – January 25th – We have asked Councilmember Lisa Herbold to present on the “State of Delridge” and her priorities for 2017.
  3. Comment on the HALA recommendations
  4. Learn more about Camp Second Chance – http://greaterseattlecares.org/encampments/camp-second-chance/csctg-code-of-conduct/
  5. Consider joining HPAC’s steering committee, elections take place in February, email me for further information or come to our next meeting.
  6. Volunteer with HPAC – We are also in need of a graphic designer and members for our community survey committee.

In addition, you can reach out to:

You can contact the Mayor’s office via this form http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/get-involved/contact-the-mayor

George ScarolaDirector of Homelessness

City of Seattle | Office of the Mayor

O: 206.684.0969 | george.scarola@seattle.gov

Councilmember Lisa Herbold

Phone:206-684-8803

Email:Lisa.Herbold@seattle.gov

How do I report a problem encampment site? 

Seattle’s Customer Service Bureau (CSB) works with city, county, and state agencies to coordinate unauthorized encampment response. Please report unauthorized encampment sites to CSB at 206-684-2489 or online at http://www.seattle.gov/customer-service-bureau. CSB will coordinate cleanup and outreach services with the appropriate agency.

Reminder for Upcoming Open Houses on HALA: What to expect

Presented by City of Seattle

December 7: SW Neighborhoods

5:30-7:30pm, Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery

Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda: DRAFT Neighborhood proposals to create more affordable housing. See a city-wide map HERE.

Parks and Recreation: Come and learn about using walkability and other transportation metrics to map how new parks and green spaces will be chosen in the future.

SDOT: Learn about how Move Seattle is shaping transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood. Also, shape your Greenway by telling us where you want to see new connections and safer crossings for people walking and biking.

SDCI: Rapid Ride and Parking Reform are in the works. Learn more about flexibility and sharing off-street parking, on-street parking, carshare and bicycle travel choices and frequent transit service.

Thank you for being a part of our HPAC community and working for a vibrant, safe, and livable neighborhood.

Sincerely,

Gunner Scott

Chair, HPAC