City of Tacoma announcement.
TACOMA, Wash. – On October 11, the Tacoma City Council passed Second Amended Substitute Ordinance 28831, prohibiting camping and the storage of personal belongings in a 10-block radius around temporary shelters in Tacoma as well as Aspen Court (a City-permitted emergency and transitional housing facility) and all public property within 200 feet of Tacoma’s mapped rivers, waterways, creeks, streams, and shorelines.
If a 10-block radius cuts through a block or a public parcel, such as a park or a school, then the entire block or parcel shall also be included in the prohibited area.
Additionally, the City will be working to ensure that the least restrictive voluntary enforcement methods possible are used prior to enforcement of the ordinance which, on September 20, was amended to reduce the maximum fine from $1,000 to $250 and the maximum allowable time for imprisonment from 90 days to 30 days or less.
“While we have much more to do to address homelessness in Tacoma, I am proud that our City Council has taken this initial step to respond to the impacts of encampments across our community,” said Council Member John Hines, who first brought Ordinance 28831 to Study Session for consideration on September 13. “Since the beginning, I have been clear that the health and safety issues posed by encampments cannot be regarded in isolation from all that the City is doing on homelessness, and I remain committed to that work. Looking ahead, this work will require further investments in shelter, services, and affordable housing, which the Council is committed to. In partnership with my Council colleagues, community partners, and our residents, I will continue helping to connect our unhoused residents with the help they need.”
The City will also post, no less than two weeks prior to enforcement, notice at the prohibited location, so that interested organizations and community groups can offer assistance and resources as needed. If there is a reasonable belief that there is significant risk to life, public health and safety, or property due to the camping or storage of personal belongings at this location, this notification requirement shall not apply.
By the end of April 2023, the City will provide an update on progress towards a Mental Health Court and a Community Court and, by the end of April 2024, an update on the effectiveness of the ordinance through specific data requests including:
- The number of people offered services and number of people accepting services, delineated between prohibited and non-prohibited areas before and after implementation
- The number of temporary shelters and safe parking sites set up before and after implementation
- The number of 911 calls and 311 requests in prohibited areas received before and after implementation
- Staffing levels of the Homeless Engagement Alternatives Liaison (HEAL) team
- Statistics and data provided by the Tacoma Police Department
“As we collaboratively address the complex and challenging issue of homelessness in Tacoma, we know this is only part of a larger solution,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “What this does is ensure that those who have accepted shelter can get the help they need in a safe environment. It also preserves critical habitats, the environmental health of our waterways and shorelines, and the treaty-protected rights of our Tribal partners. As work to set up more low-barrier shelters – such as the one at 35th Street and Pacific Avenue – progresses, we will continue our search for more shelter locations and community-driven solutions.”
The ordinance takes effect November 14.
Additional details regarding implementation, to include outreach and enforcement, of this ordinance will be posted at cityoftacoma.org/encampments as they become available.