As I said this morning, a majority on the city council (everyone but Nick Licata and Mike O'Brien) came out with a letter to the mayor this morning, saying they want him to close Nickelsville by September 1 and work with its residents in the intervening period to get them into emergency housing.
I asked the mayor's office for comment, and they just sent this statement:
I appreciate the work of Councilmembers Licata and O'Brien for working on expanding legal options for encampments, which built upon the work of an advisory task force I assembled in my first year in office. For some time we have delayed enforcement of the law against encampments on industrial lands while the City Council examined these proposals to provide more opportunities for legal encampments in the City of Seattle. In light of the City Council's clear statement of intent that they will not expand encampments further, and that they expect Nickelsville to clear the property by September 1, motivated in part by the desire to sell this property to Food Lifeline, I have no further basis to not enforce the law.
We will provide additional services, including extended winter shelter hours through the summer. Absent a change in direction by the City Council, by September 1 we expect the property to be vacated and we will follow the City Council's direction to evict those who remain.
The mayor is capitulating to the council's strenuous demands—what a win for the council! Except: The city's been facing neighborhood pressure to evict the camp, and as it comes to a head, with multiple claims filed against the city aimed at removing the camp from that property, the mayor suddenly has the political cover to evict the camp regardless of the success or failure of outreach efforts—he has "no further basis to not enforce the law," because the council won't legislate any new options. His hands are tied!
So even though it seems backhanded, this ends in a political win for everyone involved—except Nickelsville. Because really, what's the council's plan?
I'd still love to hear from the council on what magical solutions they've come up with to get Nickelsville's residents housed in the next two and a half months, where they'll get the money for that, and if they're really ready to do a forced tear-down of the camp if not everyone is sheltered elsewhere by the deadline—that's a distinct possibility. I'd suggest, if that's the plan, that the council members should have to participate in the removal of the camp.