Tacoma City Council passes ban on homeless encampments

The Tacoma City Council passed a proposed ban on homeless encampments during a meeting Tuesday night. 

The new ban will prevent any encampments from being set up within a 10-block radius of temporary or permanent shelters in the city. If a 10-block radius cuts through a block or a public area, such as a park or a school, then "the entire block or parcel shall also be included in the prohibited area," the city said. 

The ban was proposed by councilmember John Hines and was passed 6-3.

Proponents said it would help channel people into much-needed programs, but opponents said it’s just pushing the problem down the road in a literal sense.

Under the ordinance, those who don’t leave the buffer area after a certain period of time could face a fine up to $250 and possible jail time. 

"While we have much more to do to address homelessness in Tacoma, I am proud that our City Council has taken this initial step to respond to the impacts of encampments across our community," said Hines. "Since the beginning, I have been clear that the health and safety issues posed by encampments cannot be regarded in isolation from all that the City is doing on homelessness, and I remain committed to that work. Looking ahead, this work will require further investments in shelter, services, and affordable housing, which the Council is committed to. In partnership with my Council colleagues, community partners, and our residents, I will continue helping to connect our unhoused residents with the help they need."

The ban will go into effect on Nov. 14.