Residents who live near a homeless camp off Necanicum Drive came to the City Council last week with an urgent plea.
“City Council has offered greater protection to the homeless individuals than to the residents, business owners and homeowners that live here in Seaside,” said Roxanne Veazey, who presented a petition from dozens of residents asking the city to remove the camp.
Veazey voiced concerns about the city allowing the homeless on beaches, at restrooms, under bridges, in the woods and panhandling at markets downtown. “Most residents thought that the situation would be resolved,” she said. “But in six months, all we have accomplished is meetings for the sake of meetings.”
Veazey and others want the city to prohibit overnight camping in the lot off Necanicum.
“This homeless neighborhood or your so-called pilot program does not belong in a residential area,” Veazey said. “The city placed it there and should be responsible for relocating it. Neighbors are finding needles, bedding, sleeping bags, tents, lean-to shacks, people living in motor homes, in motor vehicles throughout our beautiful city. ... What you have is a surefire suggestion: ‘Come to Seaside. Do what you darn well please, and there are no consequences.’”
Colleen Gould Gascoigne said she lives a “rock’s throw away from the trailers.”
“I get to hear their conversations and their arguments lately,” Gould Gascoigne said. “Because I have chronic migraines, I don’t sleep. I’m living with this day in, day out. When this started back in May, we did not get any kind of letters or anything from any of you saying that this could happen.”
The issue of RVs abandoned or left overnight — sometimes for weeks or months at a time — came before the City Council in April. Necanicum between First and 12th, residents said, had become a long-term parking area and a safety and health hazard for residents.
Police ticketed the cars along the roadside, and, over the summer, many vehicles migrated across the street to a city-owned lot near Goodman Park.
The parking has grown to a dozen families, City Councilor Tita Montero said.
Their activity has disturbed the neighborhood and lowered property values, residents said.
“You want to take the property value of that whole section,” Tom Veazey said. “Not by a point, but by 10 points. You should be ashamed of yourselves, absolutely ashamed.”
The delivery of the petition coincided with conclusions from the city’s homelessness think tank, a group seeking strategies to manage the growing homeless population.
Among the recommendations, the group advised establishing a managed carp park to enable the city to comply with federal legal rulings and a state law related to homeless camping. “We cannot move people out of where they are camping and where they are residing in their cars if we don’t have a place for them to go to,” Montero said.
Since the parking lot off Necanicum is already in use, the think tank advised the city to “acknowledge the reality” and enforce health and safety measures at the site.
Activist Seamus McVey, who serves on the think tank, shared his own experience with homelessness, which he said began the day he left the military.
“I’m the person that everybody wants to kick out,” McVey said. “During my time being homeless, I’ve been spit on, assaulted and had garbage thrown at me. Not by other homeless people, by people who just didn’t like the way I looked. If people don’t deserve to live in a neighborhood, where do they deserve to live exactly?
“We’re all people,” McVey said. “You don’t know how we got there. I’m lucky enough to be off the streets now. But I’ll be hanged if I’m going to let somebody try to treat others in the position I was as filth and garbage not deserving of a place to lay down, not deserving of the basic human dignity and respect that we would all want for ourselves.”
The city’s priority is to locate a car park or RV park somewhere within the region so people could move from the homeless camp, Mayor Jay Barber said.
“This is not a permanent site,” he said. “This is sitting on property that’s there for construction purposes. One of the priorities that we’re looking at is locating a permanent site that would be managed, hopefully by a nonprofit organization, that has experience in other cities. It also protects the rights of housed people.”