Homeless camp regulations are a good start

May 14, 2014

By Staff

When Tent City IV showed up a few months ago, people generally freaked out. Some in opposition, and some in support, but no matter the side, emotions ran high.
Afterwards, when it became apparent that this was the first time – and not the last time – the traveling homeless camp would be in the city, the council called a time out to begin figuring out how to handle it.
Since then, the Planning Commission and city staff has been doing yeoman’s work on developing a set of regulations, and what they’ve come up with is a solid set of rules that look reasonable.
The regulations draw on the experiences of other cities in the region and limit how long the camp can stay, how often it can be in one place, and how often a camp can be in the city overall.
They set reasonable guidelines to ensure that whichever church sponsors the camp makes sure it has proper space for accommodations and transportation for camp residents.
The rules also codify much of Tent City’s existing code of conduct relating to drugs or other criminal behavior.
The commission’s proposed rules will now come before the City Council for another round of discussion and public input.
Certainly some in the community would like to see some tougher provisions, although one calling for random background checks seems a bit much and likely illegal. Do they really want to live in a place where the police come around and say: “Papers, please.”?
As good as the draft seems, there are likely changes that could be made. Thoughtful input from the community and dialogue among the City Council could help to perfect an already good set of rules.
As residents read over the rules and consider their responses, they must remember that the people who live in these camps are human beings. There are countless reasons for someone to be in the camp, but most see it as a last resort. Yes, the rules should, and do, protect the citizens of Sammamish. But they must also help protect our fellow citizens who don’t have the luxury of a private mailbox.

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