Local News
4:47 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Hearing Set for Satoshi Forest

Can a camp for the homeless coexist with a residential neighborhood?
Credit Sean's Outpost

A special magistrate hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon by Escambia County Environmental Enforcement, regarding the future of a recently-opened haven for the homeless.

Satoshi Forest is nine acres of swampland and woods that sit off Massachusetts Avenue in the Mayfair neighborhood of West Pensacola. Sean’s Outpost – a local outreach group – bought the land last summer and is allowing homeless people to camp there. Jason King, Sean’s Outreach founder, says the plan is to develop Satoshi into a viable homeless sanctuary.

“We’re in the pre-application process for getting it permitted as a campground,” says King. “We’ve done some land clearing and a lot of debris removal. There were literally tons of garbage that had been dumped there over the past decade.”

A large trash bin and a “port-a-potty” have been installed recently. King says on any given day, about a dozen or so people inhabit the area, sheltered by various sized tents and tarps. Most are transients who don’t “live” anywhere.

Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson is skeptical about whether Satoshi Forest can operate lawfully.

“We certainly invest county money into Waterfront Mission and other organizations to try to take care of the homeless,” says Robinson. “And we want to find ways to be compassionate….and at the same time everybody’s got to be compliant to the same rules. We have zoning, we have sanitation requirements.”

About a dozen Mayfair residents were at last week’s county commission meeting to protest Satoshi Forest . Two notices of violation against the property have been issued this month containing eight code infractions -- including the building of a structure without a permit.

A county spokeswoman tells the Pensacola News-Journal that Sean’s Outpost – named after slain former PNJ reporter Sean Dugas – could face daily fines and a lien on the property if the magistrate finds them to be violating county code. King says their attorneys plan to ask for a continuance, to allow them to prepare their case

The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the Escambia County Central Office Complex on West Park Place.