This week, Seattle City Council member Nick Licata is rolling out legislation to allow new homeless encampments on public and private property. The measure, which was hammered out with the help of Council Member Mike O'Brien and Mayor Mike McGinn, is intended to address deteriorating conditions at Nickelsville, the infamous homeless encampment currently residing on city land in Highland Park.
"Conditions at Nickelsville are not the best we should have for people," Licata says. The camp has recently faced flooding, a rat infestation, a spate of crime, and concerns about its self-governing structure after a two-year stint on its current site. The neighborhood group Highland Park Action Committee asked the city to evict the camp last month, saying its "existing management is actually intimidating campers into not seeking help or services, and pressuring residents to not call police." Says Licata: "I don't think we can continue having them there without providing them legal basis to move somewhere else." Mayor McGinn urged the council to support the legislation in a May 13 letter, saying, "The City cannot ignore the health and safety issues at the current Nickelsville site," nor the concerns of neighbors.
This legislation, slated to be formally introduced next week, would allow for new encampments on city or private land for up to a year, under certain management requirements.