The Bellevue City Council last night considered changing the rules under which a temporary homeless encampment could be allowed in the city...
The Bellevue City Council last night considered changing the rules under which a temporary homeless encampment could be allowed in the city. Leaders did not make a decision, and they’ll continue the discussion at an upcoming meeting.
The discussion came in response to a recent search for a new site for Tent City 4 on the Eastside. In recent weeks, at least two Bellevue churches have discussed hosting the roving homeless encampment; Bothell, Woodinville, Kirkland and unincorporated King County already have hosted the camp.
A date hasn’t been set to decide on changing Bellevue rules.
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Some options the Bellevue leaders considered would increase public involvement.
Under the existing land-use code, a homeless encampment would be reviewed as part of the request for a temporary-use permit, which grants a stay of no more than 90 days. The applications are evaluated, and a decision is made by the director of the city Department of Planning and Community Development. If appealed, the issue goes to King County Superior Court.
Besides keeping the existing rules, three other alternatives were considered:
Require an informational public meeting during the permitting process.
Create a new permitting process that would require a public hearing. Residents living near the site would be notified about the application, and a decision by the planning director could be appealed to the city hearing examiner.
Require a homeless encampment to get a conditional-use permit, which would require neighbor notification, a comment period, a public hearing and a decision by the city hearing examiner that could be appealed to the City Council.
Council members last night asked about the safety of temporary encampments, the city’s rights to restrict the camps, and statistics about homelessness on the Eastside and in Bellevue.
Several leaders expressed concern.
“I think there are some changes to our code that need to be done to meet our citizens’ expectations,” Councilman John Chelminiak said.
Councilman Don Davidson wondered about the long-term plan for the homeless. “Will we have 10 tent cities? Is that really good public policy?” he asked.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Bellevue is now considering hosting the camp. The church leadership has said it will release a report by April before making a decision.
Aldersgate United Methodist Church last month decided against hosting Tent City 4. Members cited safety concerns.
The Metropolitan King County Council also is developing guidelines for homeless encampments in unincorporated areas. The guidelines, which include neighbor notification, could go before the County Council next week.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org