Kent ordinance bans camping outside designated camping area

Oct 19, 2022, 7:34 AM | Updated: 8:47 am


(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Another Pacific Northwest community has increased restrictions for homeless encampments, making it easier for sweeps and cleanups to occur, with the Kent City Council voting 6-0 Monday night to enact new rules banning public camping.

This new ordinance adds to the list of places people may not set up camp or spend the night, including sidewalks and parks, public buildings, or any location outside of an officially designated camping area.

Tacoma councilmember: Social workers key to making new ordinance work

Homeowners and business owners told the council they have become frustrated because of the cycle of rapid removal and return of tents, campers, and trash along the Green River Trail.

“They have set fires dangerously close to our homes,” said resident Kelly Wiggins Crawford, who has owned a condo for 20 years along the trail.

She says the number of encampments and crimes has increased over the past ten years.

“Neighbors have had the homeless wander into their homes, high and confused. They have dropped used needles where our neighbor’s six-year-old daughter picked one up,” she testified.

But others speaking at the city council meeting urged more compassion for encampment residents.

TJ Peterson testified there was a time when he also lived in an encampment and said he met many people who did not fit the stereotype of dangerous drug addicts. “There’s also a lot of people out here with medical issues, divorces, financial issues. The housing [costs] have run over a lot of people. I’ve heard people [say] teachers can’t get a place to live.”

Before council members voted on the matter, they agreed this was only a partial solution to the situation. And they decided to revisit the new ordinance and its effects every three months to see how it works.

There were also some changes made to the scope of the updated ordinance. They include:

1. Prohibiting camping on unopened city property, streets and sidewalks added to the list of prohibited areas

2. Adding a provision that when there is no available shelter, the ability to arrest has been suspended – but if ordered by police to remove camps, residents immediately must do so.

3. 48-hour notice must be given for encampment removal in most circumstances.

4. Penalties: Fines will not be imposed as penalties, and the city will not object to deferred prosecution or deferred sentencing options if an individual qualifies. The city will not object to a request to vacate a conviction record if a person requests it. This will allow the record of an arrest for an encampment violation to be removed from an arrest record. Employers and potential landlords would not know if an arrest occurred.

Mercer Island, Edmonds, Everett, and Tacoma have all recently added teeth to a similar anti-camping ordinance.

MyNorthwest News

graffiti enforcement appeal...

Bill Kaczaraba

Seattle anti-police protesters awarded $680,000 in First Amendment case

A jury has awarded four anti-police graffiti protesters $680,000 finding that Seattle police officers violated their civil rights.

51 minutes ago

Image: Traffic on Interstate 5 north near Exit 88 at Grand Mound. was backed up for miles due to ro...

Steve Coogan

Roadwork leads to significant traffic backups on I-5 north; work will continue

Roadwork caused significant traffic on I-5 north approaching Grand Mound that at one point extended to more than 20 miles Monday afternoon.

2 hours ago

Bill Nye The Science Guy...

Bill Kaczaraba

Big news for fans of Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’

The Walk of Fame Selection Panel of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has chosen Bill Nye from among hundreds of nominations to get a star.

2 hours ago

woodland park zoo otter...

Frank Sumrall

Otter pup at Woodland Park Zoo dies tragically

Visitors and staff of Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo are mourning the death of one of the baby otters after he died in a tragic accident.

3 hours ago

credit union blowtorch...

Frank Sumrall

Former welder sentenced to 66 months jail after breaking into Tumwater credit union with blowtorch

A man who broke into and burglarized a Tumwater credit union in October 2022 was sentenced to 66 months in prison in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

5 hours ago


Frank Sumrall

TikTok expands office presence in Bellevue despite looming ban

Despite a nationwide ban looming over the company, TikTok continues to expand its footprint in the U.S. by acquiring new office space in Bellevue.

6 hours ago

Kent ordinance bans camping outside designated camping area