Virtual council meeting to continue discussing overnight camping law set for 8 PM Thursday

The Edmonds City Council will hold a special virtual meeting at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 5 for the purpose of continuing its Tuesday discussion of an overnight camping ordinance governing illegal occupation of public property.

The ordinance, first introduced to the council last week, was drafted by the city attorney in collaboration with Deputy Parks Director Shannon Burley, who oversees the city’s human services program, and Police Chief Michelle Bennett and her staff. It allows police to cite individuals for illegally occupying public property in what city staff say are very rare situations where two conditions are met: 1) When available overnight shelter exists and 2) when that available shelter has been offered and refused.

Development of the ordinance was sparked by an incident in the Lake Ballinger neighborhood last summer, when a woman spent several months living on a bench at the Interurban Trail. While it was originally created to address those instances involving people who are homeless, the latest version includes updated language — requested by Councilmember Will Chen — that it apply to anyone who is unlawfully occupying public property.

To view or listen to this Edmonds City Council Meeting, paste the following into a web browser using a computer or smart phone: Or join by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261.

  1. The council needs to pass the ordinance that prohibits camping on our streets like lynnwood and marysville have done. We do not want to live in an environment like the environment that has impacted the safety of living or even walking on the streets in Seattle. The citizens of Edmonds want safe streets without drugs, tents, and unsafe streets.

    1. Dr Lewis, you are 100% correct. We definitely do not want the environment that Seattle has created for itself. Will Chen has turned out to be the “weak-link” that we were warned about during his campaign. The bulk of his campaign contributions not only came from people “outside” of Edmonds, but from “outside” the state of Washington. It looked like a duck, it walked like a duck, well surprise, it is a duck!

  2. If the ordinance is truly meant to only apply to people who refuse available shelter offered to them, I’m puzzled why the council is spending time working on this before solving for the lack of shelter space. I struggle to see this initiative as anything more than flogging the impoverished.

  3. Unfortunately, the Council’s continued discussion of this ordinance tonight omits any opportunity for Public Comment.

  4. Good grief. Does the irrational pity and enabling never end? The ordinance provides that people can’t be arrested or moved unless AVAILABLE shelter is offered and refused. If there is no option, the person can just stay put until there is an option. Without this ordinance anyone can just go sack out in the parks or public outdoor spaces anywhere and anytime as they please. Yes, we need to provide some options but we also need the ordinance. Options are as simple as allocating some managed camping space in one of our larger parks. 10 Costco tents, two portable toilets and a water source. Would take one 8 hour day, tops, to be up and running. Our social workers and parks director can run it to start with.

    1. This ordinance isn’t the perfect solution but it is a step in the right direction. A compassionate step for those needing help, and a compassionate step for the community. Doing nothing is not in the best interest of health and safety for anyone.

    2. Good idea. Yeah in our larger parks. Where are the largest parks. Downtown has a very large park or large enough. We have no parks in 5 corners as it is. And we have quite enough going on here. I suspect Yost is being used for tent encampments or at least over night in a sleeping bag. I think we need a separate area for our Vets as I THINK don’t know that most drink and don’t do meth and crack. At least that is how it used to be. I think also that a nice spot for them to live like dorm housing with community kitchen and the VA helping. They would be happy. They suffer many from PTSD. So they could drink there and the Vets and Va can try to get them on Anti-depressents as a family. Vets I thought were thought to think of each other as family. Just a thought.

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