[Hpn] Tent City Moving To Private Land~BUT NIMBY STILL REARS IT'S UGLY HEAD~

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 15 May 2004 05:45:34 -0400


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Tent city moving to private land

Camp will be at Bothell church; decision thwarts lawsuit threat

A tent city will still open as planned in Bothell on Monday.

But the camp, which drew community opposition and a lawsuit, will be on
private property at St. Brendan's Catholic Church and not on the 17 acres of
public land that had been the intended site.

At a news conference yesterday, King County Executive Ron Sims said the
lawsuit, which called for a delay of at least 14 days so wetlands on the
public land could be studied, could have produced an uncertain future for
the homeless camp.

Sims said he wanted certainty and worked with the church, which offered its
land as an alternative. "I'm not going to have vulnerable people put in a
vulnerable position," he said. "That is wrong."

For the past few weeks, many Bothell-area residents, including about 200
members of the Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process, have criticized
Sims for not giving them adequate notice to study and respond to the tent
city plan.
The county transit land, on Northeast 160th Street, is in the Brickyard

Yesterday's announcement to put the camp at the church made the lawsuit
moot. But not everyone was completely happy with it.

A member of SHARE/WHEEL, a Seattle housing organization, explained that the
group supports the alternative because there is concern about jeopardizing
the possibility of future housing projects on county property.
"We want to help our future brothers and sisters of the homeless community,"
said Leo Rhodes, who worked with Sims on the original plan. "(But) we're
really disappointed (about community opposition)."

King County estimates that 8,000 people are homeless on any given night
within its borders. Of that number, only 4,600 people find sufficient

Michele Mehl, a member of the Brickyard community group, said Bothell-area
residents and the homeless both won with the new plan. She added that the
group cares about the homeless.
"It's about public land," she said. "We have established a precedent that in
order to use public land, you have to go through a public process."

King County Councilwoman Carolyn Edmonds said she will introduce an
ordinance Monday to set up a task force to advise the county on any future
tent city. In the future, she said, there also will be community meetings to
discuss the topic.

The task force will be made up of residents, law enforcement and
representatives from religious organizations and human-service groups.

But the city of Bothell expressed disappointment that its officials were
informed of the decision yesterday at 1:30 p.m. The city informed the church
that it needs permits to open such a camp.
The church is citing a federal law -- the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 -- as justification to house the
homeless, the city said.

The new agreement calls for the camp, which will be called Tent City 4, to
exist for 90 days. Rhodes said the camp will open with about 30 people and
that camp residents need to follow community rules.

Some members will be moving from Tent City 3, a temporary camp at a Lake
City church.

The new location is on 2 acres of open space the church owns. The church is
named for St. Brendan the Voyager, the patron saint of mariners and
travelers, and is on Northeast 195th Street.

This week, the Rev. Lawrence Minder said that he was preparing for the new
residents. Minder said he does not yet know what the neighborhood will think
of its new neighbors.

"But we'll be talking with them, hoping to assure them there is nothing to
be afraid of," he said. "And I think I can speak for this congregation when
I say we're trying to move forward to bring this all about."
Word about a homeless camp at the church had been circulating for days, said
Frank Slaughter, 67. He lives about a half-mile from St. Brendan's Catholic

"I think I would have some problems about the safety of the neighborhood,"
he said, noting there are three elementary schools in the area.

"But I'm old-fashioned. I think churches should help out. Those are the
instructions the Bible gives, to help those who are less fortunate."

Bothell will hold a community meeting at 5 p.m. today at Ricketts
Auditorium, 18315 Bothell Way N.E., to discuss the temporary homeless camp
on church property.

More headlines and info from Bothell.
P-I reporter Brad Wong can be reached at 425-453-1682 or

101 Elliott Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 448-8000

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