New city rules for encampments: Public hearing downtown tonight

If you have something to say about the city’s proposed rule changes regarding encampments for homeless people, tonight’s the night to say it. 5:30 pm at City Hall, the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee will listen to comments during an evening meeting devoted entirely to a public hearing on the proposal (here’s the agenda).

The goal of the rule changes as they’re written now – see the legislation here – is to enable up to three encampments, up to 100 residents each, at city- or privately owned sites no closer to each other than a mile.

Since we first reported on the proposal a month ago, it’s been discussed at multiple committee meetings, and at least one more is planned. We listened in on the most-recent one, last Friday. These maps – further clarifying sites that might qualify if the new rules pass (adding overlays such as the mandated human-services and transit-stop distances) – were part of the agenda:

Many of the questions at last Friday’s discussion involved how a proposed encampment would be proposed, reviewed, and approved, including questions such as, what if more than one potential provider wanted to use a specific city-owned site.

There also was discussion of whether other types of property could be made eligible – right now, the proposed rules specify city-owned or privately owned, but, it was asked, what about other government entities, for example? (The West Seattle sites used by the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” had included state- and port-owned sites over the years.) Also asked – if an encampment “is working well,” could the proposal’s one-year limit be modified for a renewal or extension? And one housing organization, LIHI, had sent a letter expressing concern about the proposal ruling out use of parks and parking lots. A city staffer said in response that they expected they wouldn’t have trouble finding “suitable opportunities” among other types of properties.

Whatever other issues arise at tonight’s public hearing – which is for public comment, not a vote – the PLUS committee plans to discuss the proposal again next Tuesday (March 3rd). Meantime, signups for the 5:30 pm hearing will start at 5 pm – here’s the official notice. It’s in the council chambers on the second floor at City Hall, 5th/Cherry/James.

23 Replies to "New city rules for encampments: Public hearing downtown tonight"

  • j February 26, 2015 (9:28 am)

    Does this mean our cost to supply them with wifi will go from $100,000 to $300,000?

  • DW February 26, 2015 (10:18 am)

    I will be happy if we can get rid of the encampments in plain site off I-5 coming into other cities. Friends and family from the suburbs laugh at Seattle when they see it. Why does the city tolerate this?

    • WSB February 26, 2015 (10:21 am)

      They don’t “tolerate” it. There is no place for people to go – thousands were found sleeping on the streets during this year’s One Night Count – and that’s one of the reasons for this proposal, for example. Yesterday somebody died in a fire at an encampment along Dearborn. Later last night, there was a response to one a bit further east – I didn’t hear whether there were injuries.

  • Sam February 26, 2015 (11:58 am)

    There are plenty of places for them to go.

    It’s just that those places aren’t in the city limits where they can get loads of free services.

    It’s a catch-22: provide well for the homeless and more homeless people come here.

    I don’t have a solution for this but “there’s no place for people to go” is just not true.

    • WSB February 26, 2015 (12:13 pm)

      Shelter is the most basic “service” of all, and that’s what I said: There’s no shelter for thousands. It’s not just in the city limits – the One Night Count in January covered other areas of the county as well. I don’t have a solution either but we try to keep things factual even here in the comments, and that is a fact. I don’t know that “loads of free services” is factual, either, but I don’t have more time at the moment to research. – TR

  • JanS February 26, 2015 (12:28 pm)

    wow…just WOW!..The comments by Sam, by j, by DW…how effing compassionate. There but for the grace of G-d and friends go I, and I’m 68 years old, female, disability, have lived in West Seattle for 40 years…and yeah, just get the hell out of town if you become homeless, because we don’t want to see you, you makes our out of town guests laugh? Maybe Auburn can provide, maybe some backwoods place? Just don’t do it in my backyard, because…hmm…I’m privileged? I’m lucky? We have at least one member on this “blog” and in the forum that was helped for a time by Nickelsville when he suddenly became homeless. Please remember that any of us could be homeless at any time, and you’re speaking directly to us.

  • miws February 26, 2015 (1:22 pm)

    Thank you Jan, and WSB, for stating the actual facts.



  • skeeter February 26, 2015 (1:51 pm)

    I don’t think Sam’s comment was mean. Any economist will tell you the same thing: people respond to incentives. If you are down to your last $5 and you can take a bus to either Seattle, Bellevue, Auburn, Everett, Redmond, Tukwila, or Tacoma, you will choose the location with the greatest amenities and resources. So if Seattle offers resources that are superior to other towns then more homeless people will go to (or stay in) Seattle. So any decision on what city resources to devote to this cause must also consider the additional resources required when more homeless people relocate to Seattle. Sam was simply pointing out that Seattle isn’t a vacuum. And he admits that he (like most of us) doesn’t have an answer.

  • DW February 26, 2015 (2:01 pm)

    I’m sorry, but it is an eyesore. No way around that.

    What’s frustrating is that the number of homeless keeps increasing as they amount of money that the city spends increasing. A cynical person might make the connection that some people are drawn to a place that spends money on them.

  • JanS February 26, 2015 (2:02 pm)

    I would like Sam to list the amenities for homeless people here. If there are so many, why are people still living in a tent on the hillside? You have no idea how hard it is to get any of the amenities….I’m finding out…and also finding how easy they are taken away

  • JanS February 26, 2015 (3:35 pm)

    so just withhold money, and homelessness will disappear? That’s what I’m hearing here, Sam, DW. The sad fact is, they don’t disappear into thin air. They still exist, and, for the most part, are treated as sub-human leeches on society. They hurt, they feel hot and cold, they get tired, would like a safe place to sleep, and a bowl of soup in their belly. They are human beings with feelings just like you and me. Without an address, or a place to shower, get clean clothes, those who want a job can’t get them. Vicious cycle.

  • Benay February 26, 2015 (6:32 pm)

    ms jans i am in full support of your first comment however your second and third comments no not so much i say you have your logic backwards personally in my opinion. withholding these services will not make homelessness disappear and many cant find jobs because they can’t afford clothes because yes you are beginning to understand they have no money and they have no job.

  • WsBoB February 26, 2015 (7:21 pm)

    Several years ago my buddy and I befriended 3 homeless vets in a park down from U of W. We asked them all sorts of questions. Bottom line, they enjoyed living like this. They could stay at a homeless place for the military, but enjoyed sleeping where they wanted. Mind you, this was summer, but they seemed content with their life. They didnt seem like they wanted to work or be apart of society. I understand there is a huge mental illness problem with some of the homeless. I am sure a few are down on their luck. Many have drug problems. There are no easy answers.

  • evergreen February 26, 2015 (9:00 pm)

    This is a complicated, multifaceted issue, no doubt. The thing that puts it into perspective for me is that there are hundreds of homeless kids sleeping in tents, cars, or on the streets of Seattle right now. This includes babies and very young children. School buses stop at encampments to take kids to school if that is their address, even temporarily. We have a homeless population with hundreds of kids, let’s be compassionate and humane in our problem solving. Many of us are only a few paychecks and perhaps a healthcare crisis or random personal disaster away from being homeless.

  • Ron February 27, 2015 (5:34 am)

    For all you who wish to help the homeless and not have the police push them out…
    Go take care of them yourselves. Use your own money and time to do it.
    I want my tax dollars spent on police , firefighters, roads, schools…where it should be.
    Not on allowing homeless encampments spring up everywhere destroying neighborhoods of hardworking people who pay their own way.

  • JanS February 27, 2015 (11:52 am)

    benay…I was questioning a previous poster…that’s not how I feel about it. I have been to Nicklesville when it was in WS, have a friend who stayed there for a time. I fully support doing more for the homeless. Yes, it’s complicated, and yes, there are some who prefer to live out there instead of having to abide by society rules, if you will. But we just can’t ignore these people, and wish them simply to go away, out of sight, out of mind.

  • JanS February 27, 2015 (11:55 am)

    hey, Ron…nice compassion there…

  • Born on Alki 59 February 27, 2015 (5:54 pm)

    Not much compassion if the mayors plan doesn’t include more than tent cities. How depressing it must be to live in a tent. I’m all for helping those that want to help themselves. This plan must include a way out of living in a tent for gods sakes.
    Think WPA. Think drug and alcohol rehabilitation as a requirement for moving from a tent to something better. Think mental help facilities. Think education and being employable.
    Think raising the bar higher than this for those that want to be a productive member of society. Am I the only one that is embarrassed to explain to visitors why so many people live this way in Seattle? Can’t Seattle do better than “hooterville” mentality?

  • MSW February 27, 2015 (10:07 pm)

    Maybe build encampments with this.

  • Kathleen February 28, 2015 (8:06 pm)

    I don’t want “legal” tent cities, I want actual housing for the homeless. With walls, toilets, showers… all the amenities. Why trash neighborhoods and home values with half assed responses?
    There are better options.

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