Sammamish releases first draft of homeless camp regulations

May 5, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: May 5, 3:11 p.m.

Homeless camps would still be allowed in Sammamish, but under a set of regulations that would spread the camp around the city and ensure it only happens for up to half of the year.

Just before Tent City IV left Sammamish in January after a three-month stay, the Sammamish City Council established a temporary ban on homeless encampments. The council then handed the issue to the planning commission to establish a set of regulations governing homeless camps.

Taking cues from other nearby jurisdictions, the new regulations state the camps must be sponsored by a religious institution and cannot be in the same place twice within 18 months. In addition, there can only be one homeless camp in the city at a time, and only two may be in the city within a year.

As is typical of Tent City, the camp can only be in one place for three months, although it may be permitted up to five more days to allow for moving in and moving out.

Prior to the camp moving in, members of the camp, in conjunction with the hosting location, must hold a public meeting with nearby neighbors, and with officials from any public or private school or daycare within 500 feet of the proposed site.

The camp is not allowed to displace the religious institution’s parking, and the sponsors must present a plan for how the camp residents will be able to access public transportation.

The camp may only house 100 people, and people under 18 would only be allowed if they are with a parent.

The camp would also be required to perform background checks on residents. Convicted sex offenders would not be permitted, nor would people who have outstanding criminal warrants.

The rules also call for a code of conduct, which largely mirrors that of Tent City IV.

Camp officials would apply for a permit with the city’s development department. The department’s decision would not be subject to appeal.

The commission released its draft regulations on the city’s website May 5. The commission will formally present the regulations to the City Council May 13 and the council will hold a public hearing on them May 20 at the city’s maintenance and operations center, 1801 244th Ave. N.E.

The regulations are available at

The commission’s regulations are non-binding. The City Council will have the final word, voting on them some time after the public hearing.

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3 Responses to “Sammamish releases first draft of homeless camp regulations”

  1. Incomplete Regs on May 6th, 2014 7:10 am

    Something lacking in the article (hopefully addressed in new regs) is the mention of security for, in or around the encampment. There is also no mention of forbiding drug use in the camps, maybe this is in th code of conduct but this is unclear. Also missing is the mention of noise limits, liggting limittions during evening hours. Finally, there is no mention of sanitary requirements for these encampments, including bathroom and, waste disposal requirements. These are common sense additions to these codecils that should be addressed to spell out clearly to the impact residents around these camps what their expectations must be.

  2. Michael Sullivan on May 7th, 2014 7:14 am

    They do address “illegal drugs” under the Code of Conduct (top of page 10 in the linked set of regulations). Possession/use results in ejection. Interestingly, while alcohol is called out as strictly prohibited, marijuana isn’t addressed, despite it being legal very soon. The city should address that.

    I’d also like to see drug testing be part of this – drug use is forbidden by the rules, so it is logical that there should be a way to detect and enforce that. Relying on hearsay and witnesses reporting illegal use isn’t good enough. As part of the test, you agree that failure results in you getting sent to a rehab clinic. I don’t see that as unreasonable.

  3. Concerned Citizen on May 12th, 2014 2:58 pm

    The revised version here:

    has removed the following requirements which has the corresponding negative impact on the community:

    (1) The initial version had a requirement that the homeless encampment cannot return back to a location within half a mile radius from the previous location. The revised version only blocks them from returning to the same location. As a result the ordinance falls short of distributing the burden of the camp across the entire city and paves the way for a certain small population of the city being impacted on a regular basis.
    (2) Reduced the notice period for Neighborhood meeting from 45 days to 15 days and as a result the neighborhoods don’t get enough time to respond and prepare themselves for the upcoming homeless encampment in their neighborhood.

    The second version didn’t add any of the following clauses to the ordinance despite the desires of concerned Sammamish residents:
    (1) It didn’t add a clause for enforcing random warrant checks despite the alarming number of police reports including an open rape case and various other incidents that took place during their previous stay here.
    (2) The residents had requested to change the time duration between the encampment returning to a location within half a mile of previous location to 18 months from the end-date of the previous stay similar to what other cities of similar size as Sammamish currently have. However it just got changed to 15 months from the end date of their stay or 18 months from the start date and further removed the key half-mile restriction

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