The Pierce County Council adopted a new plan to address homelessness that will allow safe parking facilities for those without residences in unincorporated areas on an interim basis.
The County Council adopted the ordinance at its April 19 meeting based on a recommendation from the Comprehensive Plan to End Homelessness.
These regulations apply for six months and allow religious organizations, civic groups and commercial property owners to provide the safe space for those living in their vehicles.
Per the ordinance, those hosting seven vehicles would be allowed anywhere in unincorporated Pierce County, while those with eight or more vehicles are allowed in all urban zones, should the county approve the agreement.
Council Chair Derek Young recognized the controversial nature of the plan, but said the council’s decision was based on pragmatism.
“Interim ordinances are a legitimate use, and they are to meet things that are necessary to the public, and if we want to come back and make some adjustments going through the process, I think that’s completely great, but to protect the public we have to do our best right now on this crisis,” Young said. “This is top priority from the council from day one since everyone walked in here, everyone identified housing as the most important thing. Quite frankly, this is the lowest hanging fruit we’ve got.”
Those who wish to host a site for homeless parking must meet specific criteria, including holding a public meeting for neighborhood residents to discuss concerns. They must also review state and local sex offender registrations for anyone at the site.
Any site with three to seven vehicles is also required to have an on-site restroom or portable toilet, portable water and trash bins.
Sites with eight or more must meet all those requirements, as well as having a safety and security plan, a code of conduct and quiet hours. These site operators must enter an agreement with Pierce County as well.
Officials estimate approximately 2,300 homeless people in Pierce County.