Controversial anti-homeless rocks spark outrage and legislative action in Washington

Large rocks strategically placed throughout the state, purportedly aimed at deterring homeless encampments, are catching the attention of Washingtonians.

Public discontent has manifested in new legislation being proposed, challenging what some see as an exclusionary tactic.

Lawmakers in Olympia are now considering Senate Bill 6231.

The bill "…prohibits cities, towns, or counties from the installation or construction of any hostile architectural elements designed to restrict the use of public space by people experiencing homelessness."

Critics argue that the funds could be better spent on providing shelter, while supporters see it as a game-changing tactic to address homelessness.

As it stands, the proposed bill applies only to cities, towns, and counties, not state rights-of-way like I-5. Opponents argue against expanding the legislation to cover "state-owned public land," citing safety hazards associated with allowing camping alongside busy freeways.

"Last November, the police department received complaints from nearby property owners and residents about our property near the New Hope building," explained City of Puyallup spokesperson Eric Johnson. "In response, we deployed rocks onto the property. Deployment of rocks is a common technique that other agencies, such as WSDOT, use to maintain their property and mitigate damage."

RELATED: ‘They just dumped the rocks’; Puyallup spends $7,000 on boulders to deter homeless people

Puyallup city officials recently spent $7,000 on rocks they claimed were to protect damaged vegetation near the New Hope Resource Center, but later told FOX 13 News they were placed to discourage homeless encampments.

ALSO READ: Between a rock and a hard place: WSDOT's controversial approach to homelessness

Additionally, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has come under scrutiny for using nearly $700,000 taxpayer dollars to install the massive rocks along I-5 in Olympia.