Wednesday, March 16, 2016

City of Redmond's far-reaching encampment ordinance, a regional leader in tent cities?

In the April 12 Study Session Council decided to limit stays at each site to 120 days to ensure Ed Hill will not be burdened with year-round encampments. Each hosting church will have three stays with 12 months between stays for a time uncertain for each permit.  A Council Hearing will be scheduled in the near future to address organizer background checks and service provider access to the camps.

An in depth article on tent encampments in the Redmond Reporter's March 11 edition, attracted six Redmond citizens to speak at Redmond's  "Items from the Audience" in Council's March 15 business meeting. (Click to watch the video)/All had safety and quality of life concerns about Council's proposed amendment to the ordinance.

Noticeably absent during the March 15 Items were ordinance advocates.  One can assume tent city advocates had been adequately heard by the Planning Commission and Council and they were fully confident the ordinance would pass.

The amendment will significantly increase the presence of camps in Redmond with potential for year-round encampments on Education Hill.  Camp stays will increase from 4 months to 6 months and stays can occur six months per year for the next five years. St Jude and Redwood Family Church are the only churches that host Redmond encampments and they are both on Education Hill.

During Items, several citizens living on Education Hill complained about the encampments being sited amidst four schools in the heart of the neighborhood.  Public safety issues were addressed by Brian Hansford, an Education Hill resident and downtown businessman.  He cited many examples of crime in the city attributed to homelessness.  Others complained about the public noticing process (Paige Norman), lack of representation from city officials, drug use by homeless on nearby trails, SHARE/WHEEL camp organizer limiting access to human services/job finding resources and quality of life issues.

Based on my experience, SHARE/WHEEL has a history of being uncooperative with the community in allowing resident access to human services and job resources, During Items, I asked city staff  to issue a press release on the status of Council's revised ordinance...to notify the public about the revision before their April vote...and to inform the greater community.  Redmond is taking a leadership position on encampments in King County and it's important citizens in King County are cognizant of what Redmond's doing.

Three other citizens not living on Education Hill addressed Council.  Albert Rosenthal, a downtown businessman and Homeless Task Force member, summarized his research concluding 90% of the homeless in Redmond come from outside the city.  He researched the encampment ordinances of King County cities and concluded Redmond's new ordinance will increase the prevalence of encampments by a factor of 2.5 over surrounding cities. He was concerned, under the new ordinance that Redmond's camps would be a "magnet" for attracting homeless and crime.

Camp Unity organizer advocate who was once homeless told Council how Camp Unity "Version 2.0" would improve their operations.

Bob Yoder
Editor, Redmond Neighborhood Blog

This is the Planning Commission's Report of January 13 detailing the "Redmond Zoning Code Amendment:  Temporary Use Regulations for Encampments" and questionable noticing process. Council based their decision on this Report and the Planning Commission's unanimous recommendation for the ordinance.

This is a City of Redmond video of Council's March 15 business meeting.  Items from the Audience are very close to the beginning of the meeting.  http://redmond.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=708

CC:  various media, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert (on March 16)

Editor's Note:  KING 5 TV reported on the ordinance:  http://www.king5.com/news/local/redmond-to-vote-on-controversial-homeless-ordinance/105009560

After the King 5 report, Council delayed their vote to allow another Study Session on April 12.. They will vote on the Ordinance April 19 or after.  Send comments to Council@redmond.gov

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The following report shows how the encampments in Education Hill impacted the safety of the area. The number of police calls were significantly increased when the encampments were present.

http://www.redmond.gov/common/pages/UserFile.aspx?fileId=182438