[Hpn] seattletimes.com: City council decides on industrial site for tent city

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Wed, 11 Aug 2004 03:59:44 -0700

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City council decides on industrial site for tent city
Full story: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=woodtent11e&date=20040811

By Leslie Fulbright
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

																JIM BATES / THE SEATTLE TIMES			The new tent-city site is on 134th Avenue Northeast, on the western edge of downtown Woodinville, just below Highway 522.																																													E-mail this article																														Print this article																														Search archive																														Most read articles																														Most e-mailed articles																																				

The city of Woodinville bowed to neighborhood concerns yesterday with a sudden council decision to move Tent City 4 to a city-owned industrial property rather than a private church surrounded by schools and homes.

The city enacted an emergency ordinance to allow the use of the new site days before the encampment for the homeless was to move from Bothell to the Northshore United Church of Christ. The operators of the tent city have until 11 p.m. Saturday to accept the city's conditions. 

Tent City 4, now at St. Brendan Catholic Church, must vacate that property by Aug. 14.

Woodinville officials will allow the encampment to stay on its property for 40 days and possibly up to another 60 days if a temporary-use permit application is granted.

The new site is on 1.7 acres on 134th Avenue Northeast, on the western edge of downtown north of Little Bear Creek and just below Highway 522.

 It is surrounded by businesses, including a towing company, tool company and the corporate offices of Jet City Pizza. The area also includes an endangered salmon stream. The site is about one-tenth of a mile from the Woodinville Post Office. 

City officials said the Northshore church, in the residential east end of town, was not adequate for Tent City 4. 

"We heard the neighbors concerns and went back to the table," said Marie Stake, spokeswoman for the city. "It was too close to schools, the site was too small and there is a drainage pond in the middle."

Stake said the new site solves those problems and is closer to transportation and food. The property is zoned park land.

More than 100 people turned out at the City Council meeting. Most spoke in support of the city's plans  under certain conditions, such as tent-city residents needing some sort of identification.

The backup plan was hatched quickly and businesses were notified yesterday morning and invited to a 1 p.m. meeting to talk with police and city officials before the night council meeting. Four people showed up.

One local property owner who declined to give his name said he was concerned some of the tent-city residents would be "casing" his place. Police Chief Kent Baxter cited the low crime rates at former encampments and assured business owners his officers would patrol the area.

 "The church invited 100 people so the city is trying to manage," said Baxter, who estimated Woodinville has about five homeless people. 

Jim Wright of Jet City Pizza expressed environmental concerns because of the nearby creek and wetlands. City officials assured him the stream would be blocked from access.

The Eastside's first Tent City opened at St. Brendan in mid-May after a county plan to put it at the Brickyard Park & Ride fell through.

 From the start, it generated complaints from neighbors opposed to the location and the lack of notice and community involvement.

 The Rev. Paul Forman, pastor at the Northshore United Church of Christ, offered an acre of church property after the Woodinville Alliance Church, which had discussed housing the encampment, backed out. He held two community meetings at the church, in the 18900 block of 168th Avenue Northeast. 

"We got an application last week from the church, and it didn't meet the requirements," said City Manger Pete Rose. "We are a little frustrated we are stuck in the same position as Bothell."

Forman said he was prepared for the encampment, but the city suddenly determined its site would be more appropriate.

"In some ways, it validates the fears of our angry neighbors," he said. "If they had to live with it, they would realize those fears were unfounded and may have shown a little more compassion."

Tent City 4 will submit a new permit application for the city site, and Forman said Northshore United Church of Christ has plans to support it as if the tent city were on the church property.

  Tent City 4, sponsored by the group SHARE/WHEEL, is modeled after Tent City 3, a moving homeless encampment that is now in Seattle. Tent City 3 has moved more than 40 times. The first two tent cities have been closed. 

Tent City 4 residents plan to move to the new site  Saturday. The property has been mowed, and the city will connect sewer, water, electricity. 

For now, county land is off-limits for the encampment. But a King County commission is expected to release a report by Friday addressing whether there is a need for homeless encampments, whether they should be located on public or private land, and what the guidelines should be in choosing a site.

 At that point a county site for future encampments might  or might not  become an option. 

Leslie Fulbright: 206-515-5637 or lfulbright@seattletimes.com

Times staff reporter Jessica Delos Reyes contributed to this report.


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