Seattle may allow homeless camping like Portland did

Mayor Charlie Hales launched the "Safe Sleeping Guidelines" in February, and that policy ended in August

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is making changes to the city's homeless solutions. (KOIN)
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is making changes to the city's homeless solutions. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Seattle is deciding on an ordinance that would establish a homeless camping policy similar to the one Portland tried earlier this year.

Mayor Charlie Hales launched the “Safe Sleeping Guidelines” in February, which allowed people to unroll a sleeping bag or unfurl a tarp between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on city sidewalks. It also allowed camping in some specific areas of the city, but never in groups of more than 6 people.

He ended that same policy in August, wrapping up the 6-month pilot program that created “a lot of confusion.”

Since then, Portland has cleared a number of homeless camps, including throughout the Springwater Corridor.

Now, the Seattle City Council is considering CB 118794, which was drafted by the ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services and would allow homeless camping in certain areas of the city.

Last week, the city released a map detailing where homeless people would be allowed to camp, including some areas in parks.

CB 118794 would establish requirements before the city could remove unsanctioned camps or vehicles from public property. The ordinance would require that homeless people in an adequate camp on city-owned property be offered “adequate and accessible housing” before they are removed from that camp.

The ordinance would also require any personal property impounded or removed from a camp to be kept for at least 90 days. Impounded property would have to be photographed, cataloged and inserted in a searchable database. The property would have to be stored in a location accessible by transit and open beyond normal business hours. Identification would not be required for that property to retrieved by its owner.

An 11 member advisory committee will be established by the ordinance, if approved, to advise the Seattle City Council and mayor on homeless encampment issues.

Organization Safe Seattle said the city council is scheduled to vote on CB 118794 on Friday at 9 a.m.