Two Nickelsville camps settle in the Central District

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With Labor Day weekend came the deadline for Seattle’s “Nickelsville” to move from its longtime Marginal Way encampment. The solution is to split the camp and its more than 100 residents into sites across the city. As we reported last week, two encampments are in the Central District. A third is located in Skyway.

A resident checks out the Jackson site (Image: Nickelsville Works)

This weekend, crews set up the two new CD camps: South Jackson at 20th and the empty lot owned by Good Shepherd Church, on 22nd and Union. Residents near the area were informed of the incoming campers in recent weeks. The West Seattle Blog covered the main camp’s big moving day. In June, the Seattle City Council approved funds to help “transition” campers off of the city-owned lot the group had called home after evicting them for illegally squatting for two years.

Residents of the Central District have had mixed reactions to living near a homeless encampment. Some are glad to see the residents find a new camp, while others are reacting negatively, wondering how this population will affect the neighborhood. But the camps are a regular part of the environments around local church properties including seasonal camps at St. Mark’s and St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill. Residents must abide by a code of conduct which includes a ban on alcohol and drugs, weapons and abusive behavior. We’ll continue to watch how these more permanently-planned encampments fit into the Central District.

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25 thoughts on “Two Nickelsville camps settle in the Central District

  1. Jackson Street was and is comming back with very visual features of new buildings, storefronts, places to go, eat with much more in the works to be built. Tell me why, right in the middle of the new development, in a very visual location right on the street, is a homeless encampment placed. This strong visual presence looks deliberate and intentional to stop the positive direction Jackson Street was going as an amenity for those new residents now living there, the neighborhoods and the new retail spaces that are planned or soon to be under construction. Would you place this encampment on California SW in the heart of West Seattle’s business district or on 45th in the middle of the Wallingford business district? Then explian why it is placed in the center of our Jackson Street business district? Does this a loud voice teeling us the area has no respect? Interesting artical in the Seattle Times, the article states that local merchants in the area merchants were sueing the city for 160 million plus due to economic impacts of the encampments, thus the move. The question has been asked, why, visually, right in the middle of our business district? Hmmm?

  2. Byron,

    Excellent point. While I support actively dealing with the issue of homelessness in our city, it does seem very disrespectful to surrounding businesses and to the homeless residents themselves, to put up an encampment in such a busy, visual location. I can imagine how noisy it is there for residents and it doesn’t seem very safe for them. with cars going by and the Franz trucks idling across the street at all hours.

    I wonder how long they will want to stay there? And your point is so very well taken, that our neighborhood is certainly being treated differently than other Seattle neighborhoods.

    • So the homeless camp is more of a blight than the abandoned Eritrean restaurant at 20th and Jackson? You know, the one that was shut down? You strike me as someone who probably moved in within the last 2-3 years. NIMBYism at its finest.

  3. Nicklesville is there because they were invited to move onto church property, not because they wanted to make a visible impact on Jackson street businesses. If it’s such a bad place to camp (noise, trucks, ect) is it any better place to have a business? Get over it, Nicklesville have been great niegbors in all the other locations around the CD in the past, welcome home guys.

    • You do not get it do you, it is business district. There is no excuse and their are more appropriate places city wide. It appears to be deliberate on the part of LIHI. No businesses were asked no recognition of this as a growing retail and residential core.

      • Yeah, you’re right I don’t get what the big deal is. The CD is a mixed use nieghborhood, that’s why your neighbor can put in a day care in the basement or put a nail shop on the garage, don’t know why, that’s how city planners zoned it. Please move to Wallingford or W Seattle if you can’t handle it and stop cooking up crazy conspiracy theories about LIHI.

      • What you wrote does not make sense, those businesses are not allowed and DPD did not zone the area any diffrent than Wallingford or other neighborhoods. The facts as presented by others in this blog are correct not a theory. Having the city implement selective enforcement of violations under existing zoneing laws for a non-profit is wrong. We are equal to Wallingford and No way I and others are leaving.

      • …. as far as I know most of the lots in my area are zoned residential small lot, with only a few fronting the busier streets zoned commercial, even though they have single family homes on them… but that doesn’t mean you can’t run a home business (and it’s not different for anywhere else in the city- the same rules apply here as in Wallingford). There are rules that need to be followed but childcare facilities, and yeah even a nail salon could be run from a home that’s zoned residential be within the requirements – anywhere in the city.

      • It’s all about what the nieghborhood feels comfortable with. Places like Casa Latino and CCS would just not fit in in Lauralhurst or Wedgewood because the people that live there are uptight control freaks like yourself. I suggest you relocate to a place that actively hates homeless people and is more business friendly, I think you’ll be much happier there and won’t have to see scary tents, people waiting in line at a food bank, or a mental health facility. Galt’s Gultch, theres a libertarian paridise waiting for you out there somewhere.

    • Nickelsville has not been great neighbors in the past.

      The CD is poised to have THREE new homeless facilities open (Dearborn & Rainier, 20th & Jackson & 21st & Union).

      The City needs to stop dumping all their social service problems into our neighborhood.

      • Compass is developing a 40 bed homeless “flophouse” facility at the west corner of S. Charles and Rainier Ave. S. across from the infamous Shell gas station. They will also offer other services to the homeless. If I do not sound sympathetic, I am but nothing is being placed anywhere else in town and all of these three sites are strategically located where new retail and market rate development has, is being or planned to occur. It is as if the area economic restoration is being condemed to what is known as a “social service ghetto”. Lumping these facilities into one area, specifically an area with people of color, is both racist, horrible urban planning and results in high crime and blighted areas. This type of urban planning old school and other cities have not done this in decades. Instead sustainable cities have mixed these type of social service needs in a even distribution around their city neighborhoods. Lumping these facilities into one area results in a very expensive drain on city tax dollars in the form of courts, jails, etc.. Best guess is that Pioneer Square is improving because of the Waterfront improvement to come and they are “shoving” their problems up Dearborn to the CD. Seattle can do better. This is not a sustainable progressive city if this type behavior by city government allows this “old school” approach to urban planning!

    • @P(ee) Dona say what? Your Ghetto vision shows a really ignorant view of the world. Nobody I know who lives here wants your idea of what this neighborhood is or will be. You should move to some place where social parasites like yourself can be accepted for a short time before your moved on. Your accusations are baseless so take your guilt trip elsewhere.

  4. I wish someone with legal or accounting knowledge would look into some of these things… Low Income Housing Institute LIHI was started by Scott Morrow and Frank Chopp and Michael Riehert 22 years ago it is a charitable trust… Scott Morrow is Known to tell homeless he is required to put in 25 years to get his Sizable Trust… Our fear is LIHI has amazed 60 Million in Property in 22 years it is Mainly Tax Money, Federal, State, County, City, Sharon Lee salary is $175,000 it is rumored Frank Chopp had her offer this land, so that ties Frank to helping Scott Morrow’s Share for Homeless, Frank’s Freemont Charity became Solid Ground who is listed as getting Millions in Taxes, Sharon’s husband Anthony Lee works for them, Michael Runs Catholic Community Services who sends KC211 calls to SHARE or nicklesville to wait the 3 weeks it takes to get an appointment with Catholic Run Family Connections…All in All Homeless is a profitable business… I think some things stink … Nick Licata is running Human Services His assistant is Lisa who worked with Scott Morrow prior…

    • @sportsmama, I can provide you with some info in response to your questions about charitable trusts. I don’t have any personal knowledge of SHARE, LIHI, Catholic Community Services, Frank Chopp, Michael Reichert or Scott Morrow. But I do know about nonprofit corporations and charitable trusts. LIHI is not a charitable trust; it is a nonprofit organization classified by the IRS as a 501(c)3 entity. A charitable trust is not an organization, a corporation or a 501(c)3 entity. A nonprofit organization can receive gifts from a charitable trust that would be put towards the organization’s charitable operating expenses.

      Charitable trusts are complicated. Basically a person (most often of high net worth) creates a charitable trust to provide support to an IRS-approved charitable cause. People can do this while they are alive or as part of a will. Charitable trusts provide significant tax benefits (e.g. income tax deduction or reduction of estate tax) to the donor. The amount of money to be provided to the charity through the trust is predetermined and fixed, but it can be paid on an annual basis or in a lump sum depending on the conditions of the trust. A charitable trust can also have an individual beneficiary, e.g. the granddaughter of a grandmother who created the trust, but the individual cannot receive any of the trust money that was predetermined to be destined for the charity. This summary explains a bit more:

      As far as Sharon Lee’s salary is concerned, LIHI’s 2011 form 990 (the most recent one available, my guess is that the 2012 should be publicly published within the next 6 months) lists her annual compensation as a base compensation of $167,125 with nontaxable benefits (usually something like health benefits or 401k match) as $6,455 for a total of $173,580. The annual operating budget of LIHI in 2011 was $7,337,772. A 2012 Charity Navigator study of nonprofit executive compensation found that the median salary in the Pacific West region (defined as Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Alaska) for an organization of medium size (defined as an annual budget of more than $3.5 million and less than $13.5 million) is $143,272. I can’t personally draw a conclusion as to whether Sharon Lee’s salary is appropriate for her range of duties and responsibilities as I don’t know anything about her role there; additionally, I understand that the “median” salary mentioned in the study should be considered just that, a median and not a standard baseline. The Charity Navigator study can be downloaded for free here:

      You can review every USA nonprofit’s annual form 990 – the federally required annual tax reporting document – on You must create an account on Guidestar to download the PDF versions of the 990 forms; such an account is free.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Except for the big lot at the SW corner of 23rd and Union, there is not an empty lot at 22nd and Union. Are they talking about the SFR lot on the West side of 22nd a few lots north of Union? I didn’t know that tent cities were allowed in the middle of a residential area. Or so close to schools like the one across the street from Washington Middle school on 20th and Jackson.

    • I have seen tent cities (not the same as Nickelsville, but similar) at 22nd and E. Cherry, at St. Mark’s on Capitol Hill, and at St. Andrew’s in North Seattle. All are residential areas.

  6. The land use code allows “transitional encampments” in any zone on properties that are owned or controlled by a religious organization. 23.42.054
    It does not define temporary.

  7. Just to keep up with the whole McSchwinnville effect – I shall summarize our commentary to date.

    1) There was a peeing incident near the Union Site.
    2) People don’t trust the city and county to be sensible, transparent, and generally believe in the containment zone policy and rampant corruption by individual councilmembers. No direct charges have been made about specific city staffers, but, we probably should.
    3) LIHI is a money sucking scam.
    4) Seattle land use code is a joke that allows for degrading any and all environments.

    What we have not heard about is any crime or drug use – other than the peeing incident at union.

    There should be some effect over time and I would suggest one of the following must happen. I suggest these only because I am ignorent of the truth.

    A) If the people are criminals and drug fiends as charged by some – then drug induced criminal behavior should increase in the CD by a noticable amount. IN particular because these people have no where to hide – reported incidents should go up.

    B) Alternatively – the people are fairly normal decent folk who will equal more eyes on the street and generally drive crime away from the direct vicinity.

    I would like to see continue follow up on the social aspects of McSchwinnville camps in the CD. I had wanted to donate a piano for a couple of reasons. First – nobody wants pianos any more and I needed a place to dump it. Second – It fit into my Polyanna ignorance that the glorious McSchwineos would sit around the camp fire making music in some Dickensian/Stienbeck throwback (I believe this is how many of the entrenched homeless see themselves as well – classic and neccissarily poor). Thirdly it plays to my Anarchistic Shadenfroidian side that wants to add to the garbage pile so we can all sit back and snark about it.t

    Let’s hear more about the reality on the ground. What is really happening in and around McSchinnville. Perhaps a McSchwinnville cam to capture the common themes.

  8. I’d like to see a continued community discussion regarding the Union site because there have been other incidents besides whatever happened with the peeing.

    I live 2 doors down from the site, in an unsecured bldg., and have discovered 1. a rather aggressive person lounging in our landing one AM, and 2. drug paraphernalia, also in said landing. Obviously, I have no proof that Nicklesville is responsible for either of these events, but the occurrences are in keeping with the set-up of the site. I want to stay positive about our new CD residents, so hopefully these are coincidences, and not regular events. The security at Nicklesville will be notified, and the church, and we will be getting a new (working) front door to our bldg. I hope, if other incidents are happening, that people are notifying as many of the appropriate resources as possible, so we have a record of what’s going on…

    • One of the appropriate resources to notify would be SPD. I have not seen any indication of police calls to that end of the Union-to-Madison block of 22nd Avenue since Nickelsville moved in.

      • Call the police if you notice any and all anti-social illegal behavior not the tent city security. The calls and incidents will be recorded and will be the basis for future abatement proceedings against the churchs and non-profits land that is being used for this social blight that no one wants!

    • Ugh. – Please call police on these incidents. I suppose non-emergency would be fine, but, be certain that reports are filed. How will you feel when somebody’s 5 year old daughter steps on a hepatitis infectied syringe on your property, knowing that you continued to allow this behavior and did nothing about it.

      It is your absolute responsibility to care for hour property and the safety of your neighbors as it relates to problems you allow to fester on your property. I would hold you liable.

      This also plays into the discussion that people in the CD don’t report a lot of criminal behavior. A person in Sand Point would freak the hell out if needles were being left on their door step.

      In the CD – we only report bloody violence. This hides the true crime rate in the CD. It might feel nice to hide from the truth, but, the truth just keeps coming until you deal with it. Needles on the doorstep equates to murders on the street. It a numbers game, and you are not keeping track of the numbers. That means you will lose every time.