Nickelsville moved to an undeveloped greenbelt on South Dearborn Street at the beginning of September, but not the lot residents had expected.
Nickelsville settled at 1301 S. Dearborn St. on land owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, across the street from Goodwill.
The residents had planned on moving to 1010 S. Dearborn St. to a property managed by Coho Real Estate Group. It was an undeveloped, sloping greenbelt near where Interstate 5 and Interstate 90 intersect.
The land at 1010 S. Dearborn St. is unstable, according to Seattle’s Department of Planning and Urban Development (DPD). The department is reluctant to issue a temporary use permit until the safety concerns are resolved.
The area has had seven landslides going back to the 1900s, said DPD spokesperson Brian Stevens.
“Due to the history of those landslides, we’re very concerned about the slope’s stability and the effect of adding people to this site,” he said.
Residents, who call themselves Nickelodeons, drafted a letter to Mayor Ed Murray explaining that the organization would not be digging into the ground or pumping water on the site. The tents sit on cinderblocks, and the community’s garden occupies 10 large, above-ground planters donated by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.
Nickelodeons asked the city to survey land held by the city and secure someplace equivalent.
The residents have reunited at a single location after being separated for a year (“Back together,” RC, Aug. 27). In the summer of 2013, the city of Seattle evicted the encampment from a site on West Marginal Way near West Seattle. After the eviction, the camp settled on three different sites in Seattle’s Central District and Skyway. One of the branches closed because of a conflict between residents and Nickelsville organizers.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will host the reunified encampment. To operate in Seattle, tent cities need a religious organization to serve as host. Encampments can stay on a single piece of property for six months, with the possibility of one six-month extension.
The camp has relocated about 20 times since it formed in 2008, when a group of homeless people and their allies first occupied city-owned land at the corner of West Marginal Way Southwest and Highland Park Way Southwest.
The encampment has operated on public land, church property and, for a winter, inside of Lake City’s former Fire Station 39.
The late August relocation to Dearborn occurred right before the two camps had met the deadline for length of stay at their respective sites.
Over the past year, Nickelodeons and their supporters have worked with the city of Seattle to find a permanent home for the encampment. The talks are ongoing.
For more on this story, click here