Pending Sweep Defies “New Approach to Encampments” Narrative, Ann Davison Names Top Staff, and More

1. On Monday, December 20, the city will remove a large RV and tent encampment along West Green Lake Way North, close to the lawn bowling area of Lower Woodland Park. Notice for the removal went up on Thursday and the city’s HOPE team—a group of city employees that does outreach to encampment residents in the immediate runup to a sweep—began its usual pre-sweep process of offering shelter beds to the people living there earlier this week. 

According to outreach workers in the area, most of the RV residents plan to move their vehicles about a block, to an area of Upper Woodland Park where the city has indicated they will not remove tents and RVs until next month. 

The encampment, which has persisted for many months, was the backdrop for a pre-election press conference by then-candidate Bruce Harrell, who said that if he was elected mayor, he would have the authority to “direct mental health counselors and housing advocates down here [and] bring down individualized case management experts” to find shelter or housing for the people living at the site.

Last week, City Councilmember Dan Strauss said the city planned to expand the “new, person-centered approach” used to shelter people living at the Ballard Commons into other encampments in his North Seattle district, including Lower Woodland Park. Outreach workers say that what they’ve seen instead is a business-as-usual approach that consists of putting up “no parking” signs and notices that encampment residents have 72 hours to leave.

“Every single one of these people was swept from another site, and I know that most of these people have been swept over and over.”

As PubliCola noted (and Strauss acknowledged) last week, the approach the city took at the Ballard Commons was successful thanks to an unusual flood of new openings in tiny house villages and a former hotel turned into housing in North Seattle, making it possible for outreach workers to offer something better than a basic shelter bed to nearly everyone living on site. Now that those beds are mostly full, the Human Services Department’s HOPE Team is back to offering whatever shelter beds happen to become available, including beds at shelters that offer less privacy, require gender segregation, or are located far away from the community where an encampment is located.

PubliCola contacted the Human Services Department on Friday and will update this post with any additional information we receive about the encampment removal.

Jenn Adams, a member of a team of RV outreach workers called the Scofflaw Mitigation Team, said the people living in RVs in Lower Woodland Park ended up there after being chased from someplace else. “Every single one of these people was swept from another site, and I know that most of these people have been swept over and over,” Adams said. She estimates that between 25 and 30 people will have to move when the city comes through to enforce its no-parking signs on Monday.

2. City attorney-elect Ann Davison announced two key members of her administration on Thursday. Scott Lindsay, a controversial 2017 city attorney candidate who authored an infamous report that became the basis for KOMO TV’s “Seattle Is Dying” broadcast, will be deputy city attorney. Although Lindsay, who advised Davison on her campaign, was widely expected to receive a prominent role in her office, his appointment was met with groans from allies of former city attorney Pete Holmes, who defeated Lindsay four years ago by a 51-point margin.

Lindsay has a scant record, including virtually no courtroom experience. He also tried and failed to get the job Davison won, making him a deputy who considers himself fully qualified for his boss’s position.

Lindsay’s views on crime and punishment (in brief: More punishment equals less crime) are largely in line with statements Davison, a Republican, has made during all three of her recent runs for office. As public safety advisor to Ed Murray, Lindsay was the architect of the “nine-and-a-half-block strategy” to crack down on low-level drug crime downtown; he also came up with the idea for the Navigation Team, a group of police and outreach workers who conducted encampment sweeps. (The HOPE Team is basically the Navigation Team, minus the police.) Lindsay has a scant record, including virtually no courtroom experience. Importantly, he also tried and failed to get the job Davison won, making him a deputy who considers himself fully qualified for his boss’s position.

In contrast, Davison’s pick for criminal division chief, former King County deputy prosecuting attorney Natalie Walton-Anderson, prompted sighs of relief among advocates for criminal justice reform. As the prosecuting attorney’s liaison to the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, Walton-Anderson “was instrumental in the success of the LEAD program for many years,” prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg said in a statement. LEAD provides alternatives to prosecution for people engaged in low-level nonviolent criminal activity.

To emphasize the point, Satterberg’s office distributed an email chief deputy prosecuting attorney Daniel Clark sent around to the criminal division on Walton-Anderson’s last day earlier this year, when she left the office to join the US Attorney’s office earlier this year. In the memo, Clark called Walton-Anderson “braver, smarter, wittier, wiser, and savvier than anyone can convey in an email. And her impact on our community, our office and on the many people whose lives she has touched along the way is far greater than I can write.”

LEAD program director Tiarra Dearbone told PubliCola Walton-Anderson “has shown that prosecutors can make discretionary and creative decisions that support community based care and trauma informed recovery. She has made herself available to others across the nation who are trying to stand up alternative programs that create community safety and well-being. This is a really hopeful development.”

Davison’s announcement includes no testimonials on Lindsay’s behalf. According to the press release, Lindsay will work to “coordinate public safety strategies in neighborhoods across the city.”

3. Former City Budget Office director Ben Noble—whose departure announcement we covered last week—is staying on at the city, but moving from the CBO (an independent office that works closely with the mayor to come up with revenue forecasts and budget proposals to present to the council) to be the first director of the new Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts, which will answer to a four-person body made up of two council members, the mayor, and the city finance director.

The city council first proposed the OERF in 2020 as a kind of council check on the budget office, which some council members suggested was withholding critical information, putting the council on unequal footing during budget deliberations.

Noble, who directed the council’s central staff before moving to the executive branch, often found himself in the line of fire from council members expressing frustration that Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office did not provide information about revenue forecasts and other budget issues as quickly as they would like. Last year, for example, council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda complained that the council had no way of knowing why the CBO’s budget forecasts were more pessimistic than forecasts coming out of other jurisdictions.

Noble declined to comment on his decision to move from CBO to the new independent office.

8 thoughts on “Pending Sweep Defies “New Approach to Encampments” Narrative, Ann Davison Names Top Staff, and More”

  1. The camp near greenlake has been there for almost two years so I don’t believe the person that says the campers there have been swept over and over. I’m glad the encampments are being moved. Maybe it will jolt some drug users to decide to get clean.

    1. “The camp” may have existed almost two years insomuch as there has been someone there continuously – not really, this website reported a sweep there in May 2020 – but most individuals there have not been continuously there 18 months. Ballard Commons kept growing as people were pushed out of elsewhere. Even for those who had been there for 18 months, they were more than likely swept over and over in previous years.
      Secondly, that’s not how addiction works. And its harms are mostly the result of poverty. There are lots of rich addicts, you just don’t hear about them. “Meth mouth” for example is mostly about lack of dental care.

      1. Aidan: You forgot one minor detail: The reason why the homeless are living in poverty is because they spent their money on drugs. Just perform this simple test: give them some free cash and see what they do with it. Test result: they will spend it on drugs. Therefore, the harm from addiction is not due to poverty (as you claim). In fact, the harm from poverty is due to addiction. Progressives like to spout-off about how the war on drugs did not work. So you think your ideas are working any better? Lets see here, has the drug problem improved any? This is actually quite entertaining so please don’t ever change. Steve Willie.

  2. More punishment does in fact equal less crime. Only a complete idiot would think otherwise. Just as I predicted (you thought I was wrong): mass theft (normally called looting) has come to Seattle. Perhaps you did not realize it because you only watch the fake news. The resulting crackdown on looting will be more effective than your ideas. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any real punishment for stealing other people’s stuff and selling it so they can buy more drugs. It won’t take the perps long to figure that out. Once again, I was proven right and you were proven wrong. Everyone please donate so we can keep the fun going. Steve Willie.

    1. “Only a complete idiot would think otherwise.” This doesn’t strike you as a warning sign that you’re making a big assumption? The fact is that punishment is wholly unscientific as a concept and only serves to make voters like you temporarily feel better while not making you or anyone else safer. Huge waste of taxpayer money.

      1. Aidan Carroll: I hope Seattle will fully implement your proposed system of “justice without any punishment”. My favorite YouTube videos are the ones where idiots like Seattle voters get what they deserve due to their own stupidity. OK Kshama Seattle, lets make Seattle famous. Until then, search YouTube: “Epic Fails”. Steve Willie.

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