Council to discuss homeless encampment ordinance amendment during Monday

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The Lynnwood City Council will hold a public hearing and discuss amendments to its homeless encampment and emergency weather shelter ordinance during its Monday business meeting.

According to documents attached to the council agenda, the proposed ordinance amendment was developed to address three distinct purposes:

  • The first is to allow the use of small portable structures as an alternative to tents in temporary outdoor encampments.  Tents are not ideal shelters for this purpose. They are small, have proven difficult to keep warm and collapse in the snow. Additional standards have been proposed to make the structures as safe and livable as possible while acknowledging that they will not conform with all standard building codes.
  • The second goal is offer flexibility to locate extreme weather housing for the homeless in buildings that do not full comply with all current codes.  This problem has arisen with the cold weather shelter when churches willing to house it found they were unable to do so since the cost of upgrading their building to current codes was impractical.  The State passed an WAC 51-16-030 Exemptions for Indigent Housing,  that encouraged communities to provide exceptions on the basis that it is safer to have people sleeping indoors in buildings that are reasonably safe but don’t meet all codes, than having them sleep outside.
  • The final goal is to reaffirm that any proposals to build permanent housing for homeless or low income people must be built to all current Zoning, Building and Fire codes.

Revisions were also included to address the following concerns:

  • A purpose section was added.
  • Time limits of 120 days are proposed to be automatically renewed as long as the operation is conducted in a manner consistent with the agreement was established for outdoor encampments.
  • A six month limit was established for indoor temporary homeless housing to insure that permanent housing situations will need to meet all current building and fire codes.
  • Additional standards for extreme weather shelters were drafted to better describe the City’s expectations with regards to minimum conditions and design.

To read more about the ordinance amendments that will be discussed Monday, click here.

To see Monday’s full agenda, click here.

Lynnwood City Council meetings begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 19100 44th Ave. W.

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