Friday, May 13, 2016

UW Preferred 2017 Tent City Sites May Be Parking Lots Closer To UW Bridge, UW Cites About $30k To Host Encampment

Tent City 3 file photo
Tent City 3 file photo
(courtesy of UW)

It was a full house at last Monday's Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) monthly Board Meeting with the main agenda item being that of the potential 100 person homeless tent camp, Tent City #3, being considered in  one of six various parking lots around the UW campus, during winter quarter of 2017.

"Hosting would be in line with our mission as a public university that is committed to helping solve the challenges of our city, state and world," the UW website said.

Tent City, an organized tent city encampment, would last 3 months. 

The specific locations that are currently under consideration are parking lots E-1, E-12, E-18, W-12, W-41, W-35, N-5 and More Hall Annex Plaza.

Sally Clark, Director of Regional and Community Relations, who attended the meeting said about the location that "No parking lots are being considered east of those lots, including not anything back by the Center for Urban Horticulture." 

To help with defining where the closest lot, E-1, under consideration would be to Laurelhurst, LCC said:
From the neighborhood point of view, the Center for Urban Horticulture Botanical Gardens main entrance sits inside the Laurelhurst neighborhood across from residential homes on 36th Avenue NE, 37th Avenue and NE 41st Street.   
That complex is connected by its "back door"  to the Union Bay Natural Area, which then connects to Wahkiakum Lane, which exits through and into the E-1 parking lot.   
This is the locals' "football trail"  used for walking to the stadium and leaving their cars at home for the games. Most neighbors actually just consider it all one piece of University property, and some call it  the Arboretum North. (The names have changed numerous times in the past years.) 
Neighbors often refer to that area of the Center for Urban Horticulture, Botanical Garden and Union Bay Natural Area as one connected entity owned by the University,  as  "The Horticulture Center.


The LCC provided this summary of the meeting:

The meeting was very well attended (we got extra chairs) with neighbors who wanted to hear more about the proposed location of the Tent City #3 being located on the campus of the UW. 

The UW Tent City Collective representative, Hana Alicic, spoke about the governance and structure of the tent city, and Sally Clark, Director of Regional and Community Relations,  discussed the overarching issues related to placing  the tent city on the campus.  
The UW Tent City Collective comprises a group of students, alumni and Tent City 3 residents, who have specifically asked for the homeless camp and "have been working to make hosting a reality." 
Hana outlined why there are tent cities, how many people reside, where the residents might originate from, their roles as community members of the 100 person encampment, how security is enforced internally and externally, and experiences relayed from other host places.  

Sally Clark explained the requirements of hosting a tent city with access to water, 10,000 square feet of a level lot (hardscape preferred), and to electricity and toilets. She mentioned that the most optimal sites have also been near buildings where residents could meet in a group for any formal interaction with a study or case work.  
The approximate cost for the host location is $30,000. The UW Would not use tuition dollars to pay these costs.  
Clark said that the University has been studying the details of possible locations of the proposed Tent City #3 if it is approved.  Parking lots are the top choice due to size and hardscape.   
The University has found that lots along Montlake Boulevard in the E-1 , E- 12, E-18 originally suggested, were found  not very suitable to the criteria needed for the Tent City #3.    
Most likely now, the top  locations might be  W-41, W-12 lots,  closer to the University Bridge,  the W-35 lot near Fisheries, or the More Hall Annex Plaza. Those sites are west of the main campus , closer to University buildings , and have  better access to Metro.
Privacy of residents was also an important consideration for safety and ability to sleep. Portable toilets would be furnished.  
The residents are considered to be fairly functional- many able to hold jobs, use the Metro system, contribute time to the camp community and abide by the rules of no sex offenders, no drugs or alcohol, as well as respect a quiet time at the camp. 
Neighbors who attended the LCC meeting asked numerous questions including:

  • attendance possibility for tent city children at the local school which is already at capacity (not certain )
  • how much current interaction do the students have now with the Tent City off NE 45th Street  ( some have visited to set up this proposal)
  • how data will be collected on any studies or case work (difficult to measure and track long term due to rotation every 90 days)
  • what is the cost of hosting ($30,000, with no tuition dollars spent)
  • what  resources will be available from the University Police and SPD for extra patrols (they will just do the usual rounds, no extra $ needed)
  • how can local families help without being intrusive (the tent city collective and an advisory group will regulate interaction)
  • what is security of the site itself  (they self-patrol every hour inside and outside their encampment)
  • is there any hard data available about crime around any tent cities (Clark stated that tent city areas have been low crime)
  • the safety around the Medical Center campus was raised with the need for better security (that message has been heard)
  • has any other public University hosted such an encampment  (no)
  • how residents will be helped through services provided by the University (medical, dental, Evan schools are potential outreach to them)
  • will the next capital campaign be impacted   (that will be considered, but not at all a roadblock)
  • would the Tent City be hosted annually (Not necessarily-one step at a time, but not ruling that possibility out)
  • children at a local U District school are now raising funds to supply pet food to the residents at Tent City #3

The UW also noted that they are familiar with, and serves the homeless and low income folks through their continued work in the free medical and dental clinics, as well in the social services.
Most meeting attendees were glad that they heard the information from the direct sources, and came away with a better understanding of how the Tent City concept works.  
It was made very clear that the University is considering hosting it, but there are many internal and external considerations before a decision would be made for hosting in 2017. 
There were many more questions and comments, but this is a condensed highlight of some of the key points discussed.

Clark said following the meeting, "I hope the meeting was useful.  It was helpful for me to hear some of the questions and concerns. It’s all important we decide whether and how to host."

Sally added that the best place to get information is here, saying "at this website people can see the information about Tent City 3 and they will see the six sites that have been under greater scrutiny."

LCC encourages the community to immediately email with comments and questions, as all comments are due to the University soon before the calendar is set in June for the 2017 academic year.

Go here to the UW website for more information about specific parking lots under consideration and general information. 

Go here for information posted on the Laurelhurst Blog.


Anonymous said...

How about the opinion of the parents and students who are paying exorbitant tuition fees?

Anonymous said...

As you can read, they are not using tuition funds so I guess the opinion of the parents and students is not consequential. I would love to see some more detail in car prowl, burglary, and other crime stats during the 3 months of tent city occupation. I suspect it is not all that different, but if it is, we certainly need more patrols.