Tent City IV likely to be in Sammamish Saturday
October 14, 2013
By Ari Cetron
New: Oct. 14, 1:33 p.m.
Sammamish will likely play host to Tent City IV starting Oct. 19.
The traveling encampment of up to 99 homeless people stays at churches around the Eastside. It typically stays at one church for 90 days and its time at its current host site in Redmond is ending.
At an Oct. 1 meeting of Tent City officials and local clergy, Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sammamish was put forward as a possibility.
After a community meeting and a meeting of the church council, the Rev. Kevin Duggan, the priest at Mary, Queen of Peace, decided to extend an invitation to Tent City.
In a letter to the community explaining his decision dated Oct. 12, Duggan wrote, “I have come to be more and more convinced that what is being asked of us is safe, reasonable, and doable. In addition, our help is urgently needed, given what these homeless men and women will face if we turn them away.”
Duggan recognized that not everyone will agree with the decision. Indeed, some community members are opposed to Tent City coming to Sammamish. They fear the camp will bring a possible increase in crime and other safety issues.
Duggan recognized these concerns, but said the church should still invite Tent City to stay.
“In the end, I have come to the conclusion that it would be wrong for us to refuse Tent City IV’s request to be invited to stay at (Mary, Queen of Peace). To shun this undertaking would be to betray an essential aspect of who we are called to be as a community of Christian faith in the Catholic tradition, and to deny what we are called to do as followers of Christ Jesus, the lord who himself had nowhere to lay his head and who gratefully accepted the hospitality and help of others.
‘Although I do not speak for the Sammamish Plateau community as a whole, I also believe that it is time for our civic community to do as virtually all the other civic communities on the Eastside have already done — Bothell, Kirkland, Woodinville, Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island and Issaquah — and that is to take our turn in assisting Tent City IV.”
In anticipation of this decision, the church on Oct. 8 began applying for the necessary permits, said Kamuron Gurol, development director for the city of Sammamish.
Gurol said approval of the permit looks likely.
“We’re not finding any reason to turn the permit down,” he said.
Gurol said the permit will cover basic issues, such as making sure emergency vehicles can access the area, and draw upon the experience of other cities which have hosted Tent City IV.
Gurol said some Sammamish residents have approached him, saying there have been problems at Tent City IV in other locations. He said he’s asked those parties to send him information about issues in other cities.
However, the evidence Gurol has seen doesn’t seem to establish a link between Tent City IV and substantial problems.
The biggest wrinkle, Gurol noted, is that while Tent City likes to stay in one place for 90 days, he said he can only issue a permit for up to 60 days. He expects that once the 60-day permit has been issued, Tent City organizers will seek a 30-day extension.
Issuing an extension for this type of permit is not something that has come up before, he said.
Under city code, Gurol noted there isn’t an appeals process for this permit to come before the City Council or a hearing examiner. Anyone who wanted to appeal the permit would likely have to do so through the court system, he said.