Pierce County executive vetoes safe parking policy citing skirt of community feedback process
A measure to designate additional parking facilities for homeless communities in Pierce County has been struck down.
Pierce County’s toolbox to mitigate its homelessness problem includes the sanction of parking lots for the homeless living out of personal vehicles. 27 such spaces exist, and the county will expand that figure to 60 under a contract with Homeward Bound, a nonprofit that provides administrative services for the homeless.
In April, the Pierce County Council approved a measure that would have expanded on that strategy: permit short-term safe parking facilities on unincorporated county grounds— including commercial and civil property.
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier has vetoed that measure.
“The biggest issue was it was done as an interim regulation, which short circuits the normal public engagement process,” Dammeier told KIRO Newsradio.
“They made a very broad expansion to all civic uses in Pierce County. That means all parks, all daycare centers, senior centers, schools, and government buildings.”
“I knew that we were not prepared to do that; the community was not prepared to address that constructively. We needed to give the community the opportunity to understand and get on board.”
The executive suggested that he was in talks with the council to pair down the proposal to remove properties from the proposal more likely to create pushback, places like daycares and schools.
“Unfortunately, for some reason that I don’t fully understand, [the council] chose to go a different direction,” Dammeier continued.
“Again, we support safe parking done well. And we’re learning how to do that and have some sites are doing very well. It was just a broad expansion that I couldn’t support.”
The Pierce County Council chair could not be immediately reached for comment.
“We know there are countless people currently living in their cars without a safe place to stay. Allowing regulated, safe parking sites for people and families provides a secure, temporary place for them to find stability as they work to improve their financial situation and seek permanent housing,” wrote Council Chair Derek Young in a news release.
“We have waited too long to respond to the growing homeless crisis. This is just one way we can begin to tackle meeting the needs of our most vulnerable residents.”
Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.