Thursday, April 14, 2016

UPDATED: Council decides on the homeless tent encampment ordinance, side-steps Planning Commission recommendations

My wife and I went to Redmond Council's April 12 study session on the homeless tent-encampment ordinance. In response to public outcry, the Council decided that for each encampment permit:  the hosting churches (St. Jude and RedWood Family) would be allowed only three 120 day stays, for a time uncertain, with 365 days between stays. They decided to keep the permit fee at $2,846.36 amortized over the length of the permit.  Council basically rejected the Planning Commission's far-reaching encampment recommendations and decided to support the Planning Department's Technical Committee.

A public Hearing is planned in the future so Council can review:  1) background checks for neighborhood safety and 2) improved service provider access to the camps to help the vulnerable homeless residents achieve independence.      

Council decided 4-3 (Birney, Myers, Shutz) to limit permitted stays at each hosting church to 120 days to ensure Education Hill not be burdened with year-round encampments.  It was noted by Councilmember Shutz the decision not to approve 180 day stays could affect "stability" at the camps.

In so many words, Councilmmember Stilin was concerned if the encampment permit was restricted to a five year term the hosting churches may feel pressured to hold encampments more frequently and the church congregations could burn out.  Councilmember Birney indicated a 5-year permit could attract organizers to Redmond's hosting churches.  No decision was made on the term of the permit;  Stilin asked staff for a recommendation.  

Council decided to keep the amended temporary-use permit as "Permit Type 1."  Type 1 permits are "legislative" with more restrictions on public noticing than other Land Use Permit Types -- and so can lead to unintended consequences as it did here.  For example, the city wasn't required to mail encampment notice letters to residents living within 1,000 feet of the host churches. Council relied on social media for noticing.  Letters weren't sent to the Redmond Reporter. The word on the proposed ordinance didn't spread.  Years from now if St. Jude or RedWood Church request a permit will the public will be in the dark again?   

Bob Yoder, opinion

1 comment:

Fr. Jim Johnson said...


St. Jude has hosted a tent encampment every 2 to 2 1/ 2 years. This has been what the parish has thought that it could reasonably accommodate. When we have hosted, we have had to pay for a mailing done by the city to the surrounding community as well as put up a large sign and have a community meeting each time. What we have objected to substantial increase of fees over the years: $2600 last time around, when other municipalities have charged in the $400-$1000 range.
That is what we asked for relief from.... None was provided. We want to be good neighbors. We have always insisted on background checks and have had very litter negative feedback from our hosting 5 times in nearly 10 years. We believe we have a Gospel responsibility to work to provide housing to the homeless and lift people out of poverty and help those in need. We as
all want a permanent solution to this issue, but it require money and a commitment to providing social service to those in need and affordable housing. Blessings, Fr. Jim Johnson