King County rejects bill aiming to create standards for removing homeless encampments

Legislation for removing homeless encampments across King County was shot down by the county's Local Services Committee.

The legislation was sponsored by councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert, and would have required the county to develop standards for the removal of homeless encampments in unincorporated King County.

These standards include when encampments ‘present a public health hazard through the presence of untreated sewage, biohazardous waste, or exposure to infectious diseases; when the camp is a fire hazard; if there are reports of violence or criminal activity; if the camp obstructs access to rights of way or public resources such as playgrounds or schools; or creates ADA accessibility issues.’

The legislation was rejected in a 2–2 vote.

Following the committee's rejection of the rule, Dunn and Lambert issued a joint statement:

"It is disheartening that the Committee would refuse to even engage in a conversation about how to provide housing and support services to people currently living in County parks or other County-owned property. Our parks, roads, and trails are overly burdened by tents, trash, and crime. It is past time we found a compassionate, common sense solution to maintaining our public spaces for everyone.

"The Committee’s rejection today of creating basic guidelines for what conditions make it allowable to remove homeless encampments—such as violence, crime, or the presence of untreated sewage or biohazardous waste—is neglectful of our duty to the families and businesses who now must bear the burden of these conditions with no recourse.

"It is not compassionate to look away from the growing problem of homeless encampments—it is indifference. Our communities and our most vulnerable deserve better."

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