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Saturday, February 17, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Church expecting fine for its tent city

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Redmond city officials warned St. Jude Catholic Church: Put up Tent City 4, and you'll pay for it.

On Friday, the city was set to levy the first $350 fine against St. Jude Catholic Church for hosting the camp without a valid permit, said Redmond's senior planner, Steven Fischer. The camp moved on to St. Jude's grounds last Saturday.

A hearing examiner's decision rendered the permit Redmond issued invalid, but the church decided to go ahead with its plan to host the camp for 90 to 110 days. After 30 days, the daily fine will increase to $500, which could bring the church's total tab to more than $37,000.

St. Jude issued a statement saying fines would be paid from donations, not through parish funds.

City planners are preparing to appeal the hearing examiner's decision to the City Council, and expect a hearing date to be set as early as next week.

The discord between faith organizations and cities over temporary homeless encampments prompted Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, to introduce a bill that would make it unlawful for cities to keep faith communities from hosting the encampments. The bill also states that no jurisdiction shall impose a maximum stay of fewer than 90 days.

"We've got this ongoing fight between cities and churches," Miloscia said. "It's still going on; it hasn't settled down."

Miloscia entered the bill last session, but he pulled it after it got mired in an emotional debate, he said.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Monday. It is also backed by Reps. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, and Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle.

Noting that 111 homeless people died on the streets of King County last year, Miloscia said churches should not be unfairly hindered in their attempts to save lives by offering shelter.

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"To me, that's flat-out immoral," he said.

Amy Roe: 206-464-3347

or aroe@seattletimes.com

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