A full house in council chamber on Wednesday.
  • Anna Minard
  • A full house in council chamber on Wednesday. Those pink signs read "Without food and shelter, people die."
On Wednesday, the Seattle city council took another stab at what to do about Nickelsville, which has now been squatting on city land for two years. Residents of Nickelsville and SHARE's Tent City 3 packed the meeting, where Nick Licata was introducing for discussion his bill to further legalize encampments, and they faced off against emotional Highland Park residents who begged the city to kick Nickelsville out of the current site (in a humane way, of course).

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Here's what I took away from the meeting: Much of the council seems opposed to Licata's bill, Nickelsville doesn't even want to use it anyway—they want a church to rent property for them under current religious encampment rules. But while councilmembers gave Licata's staff some time to work with Nickelsville and see if they can make that happen, sources at city hall say they don't see a church ready to pay the thousands of dollars it would take to rent an adequate site, and there's no way the council will fund that if they're already underfunding the shelter beds they apparently prefer over camps.

So the mayor and Licata proposed a second option: Make Nickelsville permanent at its current site. This option has no traction anywhere. And the mayor is never going to stage the shittiest photo op in the world, i.e. sending in cops to tear down shelters and kick desperately poor families off city land.

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Meanwhile, the city now has two lawsuits filed against it—it's being double sued by Nickelsville's neighbors. One is an adjacent property owner suing the city over reduced property values due to the encampment, the other is the Highland Park Action Committee, which is filing a claim against the city for allegedly allowing for an illegal use of the site, the council revealed at the meeting.

So that leaves us nowhere. There's no politically or financially viable solution, apparently. They can't stay there, they have nowhere to go, no one has any money. We're totally fucked. And it's an embarrassment for the city, all around.

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