Tent City 4 could come to Sammamish

October 3, 2013

By Peter Clark

Update: Oct. 3, 10:09 a.m.

Church to hold community meeting

Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church will hold a meeting to provide information and gather input from the community about possibly hosting Tent City IV.

The pastoral council met Oct. 2 as part of the church community’s “process of discernment,” said Rich Shively, pastoral administrator. The council did not offer any formal recommendation that evening, Shively said, but discussions were generally positive.

“One of our mandates is to be open to people in need,” Shively said.

He was quick to add that no decision had been made.

The next step is the meeting for the public to hear information and voice their opinions. After the meeting, the pastoral council will meet again and likely develop a recommendation for the Rev. Kevin Duggan.

Shively said Duggan will have the final decision and will likely make his announcement the weekend of Oct. 12-13.

Shively acknowledged that time frame does not give the city much time to process the needed permit for the encampment. He said that the church has begun discussion with the city about what sorts of information they’ll need to process the permit, but has not yet formally begun the permitting process.

The public meeting will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the church*.

 

Original story:

Tent City 4 might move to Sammamish.

Members of the Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church Council are meeting tonight to decide if they want to extend an invitation to the group. If they do, the encampment could be in Sammamish a little more than two weeks later.

Organizers from the Tent City community received a shock late this summer when Bellevue, whose turn had arrived to host the traveling tented encampment, denied Tent City 4’s return.

“There are now two campsites on the Eastside,” Elisabeth Maupin, coordinator of the Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition, said, explaining the current Bellevue situation. “The other campsite had already filed for a permit to stay in Bellevue. And because Bellevue has a codicil that only allows for one campsite, the other camp was rejected.”

Tent City 4, the traveling encampment where homeless people can find meals and a place to stay, which currently resides in Redmond, could find no potential host. The camp typically stays at each site for 90 days.

Because Tent City 4 must evacuate the present site by Oct. 19, an emergency meeting was held Oct. 1 to brainstorm possible locations to house the camp as autumn begins.

Twenty-one people, representing regional churches, charity organizations, local governments and Tent City 4, met at Issaquah’s City Hall to discuss a future location.

“The reason we’re all here today is that Tent City 4 needs a place to be, in a very short time frame,” Maupin said at the meeting. “Churches that have been approached so far have all had obstacles.”

Though Tent City 4 was previously housed three times at the Community Church of Issaquah, the church has since sold its building, leaving no alternative in the city. The reluctance of Issaquah churches to welcome the encampment quickly led the meeting toward the Rev. Kevin Duggan, of Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sammamish.

“We want to see if there’s a strong consensus in favor of it,” Duggan said. “Everyone realizes that this isn’t a one-person, one-vote kind of thing. The important thing is to build consensus between the church leadership. The word is just getting out, but so far, there isn’t anyone coming out expressing strong opposition. We just want to make sure that people aren’t getting caught by surprise.”

Duggan spoke at the Sammamish City Council meeting later that day. He said that, informally, support for allowing the encampment among the church council seemed generally supportive, but not unanimous.

He explained that if it were to happen, the encampment would be housed on a grassy area behind the church.

Duggan noted that Tent City 4 can accommodate up to 99 people, but it typically runs at 60 percent to 75 percent of its capacity. He said that the area the church can offer is not ideal in terms of size, but it may work.

“They’ve looked and said it would be a tight fit, but they’ve worked with less,” Duggan said.

Members of the Sammamish City Council had little to say during Duggan’s presentation.

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten pointed out that Sammamish has little transit service (essentially two commuter bus lines), and she’d understood that was a hurdle to the encampment being hosted anywhere in the city.

Duggan reported that Tent City organizers had looked into the matter and that the bus service available in Sammamish was workable.

City Manager Ben Yazici gave the council a short outline of Tent City’s code of conduct, explaining that the camp forbids drugs, weapons and foul language. He noted that other cities that have hosted the camp have generally had a positive experience.

Councilman Ramiro Valderrama praised the church’s interest in being a host.

“It’s very commendable that you are considering this,” he said.

 

Permitting process

During the meeting earlier in the day in Issaquah, the group responded favorably to the possibility of settling in Sammamish for a time, and Sammamish Community Development Director Kamuron Gurol cautiously discussed bureaucratic hurdles.

“We’re trying to learn more about what the nature of the problem is and see if we can help reach a solution,” Gurol said. “Code requirements for encampments like this is something we’ve been meaning to do and haven’t gotten around to yet. But we realize there is a crisis right now.”

Without full city regulations to permit the camp, he said a temporary-use permit would be the best Sammamish could offer. It would limit use to 60 days and could not be renewed within the same calendar year. Such a permit does not require public notice or have a public process.

“I don’t have the authority to extend that,” Gurol said. “It is the simplest permit. It’s administratively issued. It’s pretty simple, and it’s very easy.”

Christopher Wright, associate planner with Issaquah’s Development Services Department, was present to offer advice for Sammamish based on past experience. He said Issaquah did have the luxury of time when the city hosted Tent City 4, but that it should prove a positive experience for Sammamish.

“I would say we had the benefit of plenty of time to reach out to the community,” Wright said. “Ultimately, it was a positive thing. The city felt good about it. We were lucky we had time to plan for it, but ultimately it worked out well.”

While a public process is not required, Duggan said the church was extremely aware of how much time it would have to spend with its neighbors, ensuring the spread of information.

“It’s my sense from talking to those that have the experience that the biggest challenge is always the first time,” Duggan said. “That’s when you face the biggest amount of resistance from your neighbors and in the church community. That first time that Tent City comes, that’s when it takes the most time and energy to build the amount of goodwill. All that seems to dramatically decrease or disappear when they come back a third or fourth time.”

When asked how quickly a permit could conceivably be procured for a Sammamish Tent City 4, Gurol said he was uncertain.

“The truth is I can’t predict,” he said. “My crystal ball would say it’s possible within the time frame given here. I also think that the permitting procedure is not the gateway use, which is the community issue.”

 

Editor Ari Cetron contributed to this story.

 

* The venue has been changed slightly. This version represents the most current information.

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Comments

30 Responses to “Tent City 4 could come to Sammamish”

  1. Teresa Dofredo on October 2nd, 2013 1:03 pm

    I am not against tent city encampments unless they are located close to schools. Being that Skyline and the Montessori are in such close proximity I do not believe this is the proper location.

  2. Ann Hauser on October 2nd, 2013 2:44 pm

    We sure do need a better way to really help people who are homeless with all of the complexities that it brings. I don’t think that living in a tent year round in the Pacific NW is a good option for anyone. I spent many years as a social worker working with the homeless. Homelessness is just the tip of iceburg – the visible part. As a group these are people with untreated and extreme mental health issues often accompanied by active substance abuse issues.

    Sammamish seems a poor choice of location for many reasons.

    1) As the city with the most people 18 and under per-capita (33%) in the state this seems a poor choice of location.

    2) Very limited public transportation, only two bus lines, and one of those two is on the proposed chopping block already.

    3) No other services available in a six mile radius at least.

    4) This would put them right next to the skate park.

    As a country we must do a better job for our homeless population, providing more permanent safe housing with wrap around services, hope and a pathway out of abuse, poverty, and mental health pain. Shuttling tent cities from place to place is not a good solution. I believe, parking them in one of the least accessible cities in King County is a really bad idea.

  3. Chris Pribbernow on October 3rd, 2013 8:40 am

    A homeless camp on the great Sammamish Plateau is unheard of. And please, let’s keep it that way. I think I’ve seen only one beggar on our streets occasionally, and that is plenty enough. Bellevue has had a spike in homeless and it doesn’t look pretty. Sammamish has a reputation of having big homes and fancy cars. How would a homeless camp fit in? Bringing a Tent City here would be moving in the wrong direction. Everyone will despise its inhabitants and ignore them. No one will want to help those people; they’d rather avoid them. Our community is simply not a good fit for Tent City. We are too far from bigger cities with jobs, and even too far from freeways and good transit. Please, for the sake of the entire community, keep Tent City away from Sammamish!

  4. Holly White on October 3rd, 2013 10:23 am

    Wonderful! I would love to see our community participate in the needs of our region, our country. This is the way to help people in need (rather than funneling our tax money through the federal bureaucracy)!

  5. Anonymous on October 3rd, 2013 10:34 am

    Seriously? Only feet away from a preschool? This is ludicrous.

  6. Michael Sullivan on October 3rd, 2013 11:17 am

    I agree with Ann. As I said on the Review’s Facebook page, I think TC4 does the homeless an injustice. Frankly I think they deserve a lot better than a tent during a Puget Sound winter. Groups like Habitat for Humanity and other charities do a lot of great work at helping people that need their services. Those organizations have the ability to place folks into a temporary living situation that provides real shelter – heat, hot water, semi-private living, etc. Tent city has been going on since 2004 I think; some of the folks living there have been with the camp for years. TC4 organizers have had many years to come up with a more permanent facility with real resources to help these folks out, but they haven’t done that. I feel like if this was really about helping the homeless rather than trying to agitate land owners that happen to have money, something would have been done in the last nine years to provide a more permanent place of refuge for the folks that require housing assistance. But, that hasn’t happened.

    I will say that crime and whatnot really haven’t been issues with TC4. That’s never been a concern of mine and I don’t think it’ll be an issue if the camp moves to Sammamish.

    I’d add that I think adjacent property owners have every right to be upset, and I think it’s the church’s responsibility to address their concerns. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor – if anyone were to set up honey buckets and a bunch of tents on property adjacent to mine for 3 months, I wouldn’t be happy about it. Perhaps a good compromise here is to have MQP host TC4 in the social hall. This provides heat for those folks, eliminates the need to set up porta-johns, and doesn’t force adjacent property owners to have to deal with 100 people living right on their property line.

  7. Frank Blau on October 3rd, 2013 12:55 pm

    Not everyone “despises and ignores” the homeless. God forbid (no pun intended) we showed that Sammamish had compassion for the homeless along with our “big homes and fancy cars”.

    I’m embarrassed to be a fellow citizen to some of these people.

    Frank Blau

  8. Doug Prishpreed on October 3rd, 2013 1:45 pm

    Not in my backyard! Make the people in Seattle deal with ‘em. I spend my hard-earned money to stay away from these people. One time I was downtown and I almost had to look one in the eye. Think of the children!

  9. Willie Wheeler on October 3rd, 2013 3:14 pm
  10. John R Lewis on October 3rd, 2013 4:06 pm

    To people like Frank who commented above: Before shaming people for not wanting this in their neighborhood, put up a few tents in your own back-yard, and invite the homeless to stay for 3 months. Otherwise you just look like a hypocrite.

  11. Frank Blau on October 4th, 2013 2:00 pm

    Working together as a community we can provide much more efficient, safe and beneficial resources to homeless people than I could possibly hope to do in my small yard. When given the choice between a symbolic or actually effective solution, I’m going to go with the more effective one.

  12. Mike Perry on October 4th, 2013 2:20 pm

    This is a GREAT opportunity for the Samammish community to help our neighbors in need. Tent City IV serves the Eastside homeless community and has done so safely and responsibly for 10 years. NIMBY is not an option nor an appropriate response by anyone. This will present an opportunity for outreach by our children and to teach by example as parent how to help those less fortunate. I hope that schools will also rally and help the residents of Tent City IV by providing meals , clothes or blankets. I also see this as an opportunity to educate the public on the homeless issue in Samammish/Eastside and enlighten those who are having issues with the idea of hosting Tent City IV. Bring an open mind to the Town Meeting and learn the facts. Ignorance is not bliss.

  13. Anonymous on October 4th, 2013 2:40 pm

    And do you think Tent City 4 represents an “efficient, safe and beneficial resource” because I definitely don’t. Regardless, it doesn’t belong in the middle of suburban community and it doesn’t belong next door to a preschool.

    And my guess is that there are quite a lot of people in Sammamish who donate their time and money to help others in need…I personally know of many. Does not mean this belongs here and again, not next to a preschool.

  14. John Yu on October 6th, 2013 10:11 am

    “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

    “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X

    “In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
    By the relief office I seen my people;
    As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
    Is this land made for you and me?”
    – Woody Guthrie

  15. Steve Burk on October 6th, 2013 8:29 pm

    I hope they are able to successfully make it to Sammamish. What a great opportunity for our community to reach out and offer help & friendship. I have been involved in Tent City 4 in Issaquah the last couple of times they have come and seen great relationships form between the TC4 folks and the local community. I will gladly volunteer and serve to show these neighbors I care about there plight.

  16. Steve Burk-Sammamish on October 6th, 2013 8:31 pm

    I hope they are able to successfully make it to Sammamish. What a great opportunity for our community to reach out and offer help & friendship. I have been involved in Tent City 4 in Issaquah the last couple of times they have come and seen great relationships form between the TC4 folks and the local community. I will gladly volunteer and serve to show these neighbors I care about their plight.

  17. Earle H Jones on October 6th, 2013 10:05 pm

    Tent city 4 was at our church, Community Church of Issaquah for three different years, from 2007 to 2012 for three months each time. The camp was six feet from a preschool playground and there were no problems. The church across the street from our church had a large church school and even though they were at first concerned about tent city four, the church became a big supporter of TC 4 and the children and their teachers became frequent visitors at the camp. The camp welcomed other visitors also. The camp had 24 hour policiing from it’s own members. Before becoming a resident of the camp, each resident received a background check before becoming admitted. There was a steady turnover of residents as they found jobs and were able to find housing.

  18. Elizabeth Maupin on October 6th, 2013 10:06 pm

    I’d like to correct one comment in the article. It is a bit misleading to say that the Issaquah churches are reluctant to host Tent City 4. There are some genuine obstacles to siting in many of the locations approached: wetlands, septic fields, lack of sufficient parking space, construction activity, etc. Many of the churches, including the one whose school was directly across from the Issaquah host site, have supported past hostings in Issaquah and would have done so again if there had been time enough to overcome the obstacles.
    To Chris Pribbernow I would say, “Do not underestimate your neighbors. Far from despising and ignoring the homeless, Sammamish residents have been very generous in providing meals, raising funds, and organizing things like a dental day.”
    You may not notice homeless people on the streets of Sammamish. They do their best to keep their situation private. You might be surprised to find that even some who have known a life of privilege have become impoverished by the economic downturn and/or by medical debt. In east King County where housing costs are high, many hard working folk are unable to find any affordable lodging. It isn’t just a Seattle problem.

  19. Eugene on October 7th, 2013 11:35 am

    For those who paint a rosy picture of hosting Tent city 4, I would say why don’t you invite them to live in your backyard?! Clearly, there will be a lot of problems for the surrounding neighborhoods. People won’t feel safe any more, let along small kids.

  20. John Yu on October 7th, 2013 1:43 pm

    “I said that the Chicago Times as the mouthpiece of monopoly and corporations it was the first to advocate the killing of people when they protested against wrong and oppression. I spoke of the Chicago Tribune, which that day advocated that when bread was given to the poor strychnine should be placed on it.”

    August 9, 1886

  21. John S on October 8th, 2013 8:50 pm

    Are you guys crazy ? Rich, I bet you don’t have young children going to school around the neighborhood. May be you should move your church closer to the current tent city. Hypocrites

  22. Patrick on October 9th, 2013 12:43 pm

    Show me some data that would suggest it’s a danger to our community to host Tent City 4. Stop “projecting” your own fears on the fine people of Sammamish.

    Father of 3.

  23. Sam Isa on October 11th, 2013 2:26 pm

    I wonder how many who shared their opinions here are residents living near the church. I am pretty sure people who speak here all have good hearts and are willing to help others but if there are people in the neighborhood affected, what’s the justification of doing the *right* thing at the expense of other same good people? Besides, do you ask yourself whether you will personally be affected as much as those neighbors? You may come to church service a few hours a day or a week but families raising young kids live here.
    As for “being affected”, people do not need data, such as criminal rate, demographics etc to back up. If I do not feel comfortable, I do not feel comfortable. If most of the community living here do not feel comfortable, it’s not the *right* thing to do. Whether this is a misperception (would there be a reason for that btw?) or what does not matter!
    It’s so easy to be considerate – just think for yourself a minute whether you are willing to share your backyard with the tent city. If the answer is yes, ask your family and your neighbors next door, then try the question one more time.

  24. Hugh Johnson on October 11th, 2013 2:41 pm

    What an innovative and bold idea. Nobody WANTS this in the backyard. But we have an opportunity to show the world that we not only will embrace these people, but that we will make a difference in their life. We can live the philosophy of “it takes a village”. The sooner we get started, the sooner we are successful.

  25. John Yu on October 14th, 2013 11:56 am

    If I do not feel comfortable with Chinese, Indian, black, or gay people buying houses in my neighborhood, what should I do?

  26. Eugene on October 14th, 2013 12:42 pm

    I know vast majority people live in the surrounding neighborhood are totally against it. I don’t understand how Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic church can lie to the public that opinions are in favor of hosting the encampment?? How can you say that? Do you dare to ask the neighbors? Most of people in favor of Tent City during the meeting are belong to you church and they are not living in the surrounding neighborhoods!

    DON”T LIE!

    BRING A VOTE!!

  27. concerned citizen on October 14th, 2013 8:57 pm

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019699869_tentcity17m.html

    Tent city resident arrested for child rape…

    This is the most imperfect place to set up this tent city. People spend their hard earned money to live in sammamish for a reason! There are other ways to help.

  28. concerned citizen on October 14th, 2013 9:06 pm

    To the people on this thread that thinks about the safety of our children above anything else, I salute you!

  29. John Yu on October 15th, 2013 9:40 am

    Yeah, I spent my hard earned money to live in Sammamish, but I don’t remember you having passed a child abuse check before you were allowed to move in. Why should you be above suspicion? Is it because people with more money are less likely to abuse children?

  30. concerned citizen on October 22nd, 2013 7:44 am

    What part of THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT PLACE is so hard to understand??? Some people just tries to mix the issue of compassion, etc but they never really bother to addresd the issue. The issue is THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT PLACE! Not bad to help at the right place. NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR NEIGHBOR

    If you do it at the expense of your neighbor, that is plain selfishness.

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