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City Council passes tent ban in Tacoma parks

A tent underneath I-5 in Seattle. (AP)

Tents will soon be banned in Tacoma parks.

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The Tacoma City Council voted to pass the ordinance 8-1 Tuesday night.  The ban won’t go into effect until December.

Homelessness is a major issue in the city, and people have been putting up tents and camping at parks during the day.

But after some people expressed concern, Metro Parks Tacoma decided to update its rules for the first time in 10 years.

When the rule was considered by Metro Parks, the agency said closed tents would be targeted for a ban because they can be used to hide illegal activity.

“What the police have told us is the walls, without the visibility — we can’t see what’s going on in those tents and they don’t have the authority,” said Hunter George with Metro Parks Tacoma.

The rules change also prohibits drones and vaping.

Critics in Tacoma and beyond have said that before a tent or camping ban is enacted, cities should find people somewhere else to go.

Tacoma now has until Dec. 1 to do that before the ban on tents in parks goes into place. The City Council and mayor said they will work to find a solution.

Meanwhile, a possible solution to the homeless crisis is being tested elsewhere in Tacoma.

In July, KIRO 7 toured a massive tent that encloses many tents inside.

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For the past 2 years, 304 people in Tacoma have found temporary shelter there.

It’s air-conditioned, heated, has showers and places to store belongings.

There are also 40 standalone shelters outside the tent that offer more privacy.

After 90 days in the location, KIRO 7 found that 30-percent of the residents transitioned to permanent housing.

A January point in time count in Tacoma found 1,400 homeless people.

By comparison, Seattle counted more than 7,000.

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