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Friday, August 06, 2004 - Page updated at 09:41 A.M.

Tent-city plan stirs fears

By Matthew Rodriguez
Seattle Times staff reporter

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WOODINVILLE — About 200 area residents voiced concerns Wednesday night at the Northshore United Church of Christ over its offer to host Tent City 4, a moving homeless encampment, beginning Aug. 14.

The encampment, which opened at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Bothell three months ago, has drawn intense criticism from residents, several of whom showed up at last night's meeting.

For the first hour, church officials, Tent City 4 residents and city police answered questions submitted in writing from the audience, prompting angry shouts when follow-up questions were not addressed.

The church, at 18900 168th Ave. N.E., planned to host another public meeting Thursday night.

Earlier this week, church officials applied for a temporary-use permit, which would allow city officials to impose public-health, safety and sanitation conditions for the tent city. The city will hold a public meeting that will address the city's permitting process from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The city Wednesday released its timeline for reviewing the church's application, noting that it would conclude its findings Sept. 10. The encampment is expected to move to the church Aug. 14 and stay until Nov. 12.

After the meeting, Christina McMartin, 42, said the church is the "wrong area" for the tent city because the neighborhood lacks regular transportation and bathing areas for the homeless residents, adding that the church is near trails where neighborhood children play.

Norman Milliard, a Bothell resident and a volunteer with a group that opposes Tent City 4, agreed, saying that Tent City 4, which is run by SHARE/WHEEL, moves from site to site with "no due process."

"They didn't answer all the questions," Milliard said. "They tried to limit the public comment to 10 people who showed up early," he said, referring to the meeting's latter half, when people spoke in the order in which they had signed up.

Milliard was one of several Bothell residents who discussed their experiences with the tent-city residents.
 
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Another, Paula Quigg, 40, urged Woodinville residents to "give them a chance," referring to the roughly 100 who call Tent City 4 home.

"I would hope that the Woodinville community would give them a chance," Quigg said. "If you saw them at QFC, you probably wouldn't know they were homeless."

Tent City 4 resident Nick McCabe said the community's concerns are valid, adding that "people really want to help, but they don't want it to jeopardize their families." McCabe, however, urged neighbors to visit the encampment.

"Given the chance to come in, I think they'd be very surprised," he said.

Tent City 4 opened at St. Brendan's in mid-May. Under a 90-day land-use permit, it must move from St. Brendan's Aug. 14. Before the offer from Northshore United Church of Christ, another Woodinville church, Woodinville Alliance Church, discussed hosting the encampment.

Tent City 4 is modeled after Tent City 3, a moving homeless encampment that is now in Seattle. Tent City 3 has moved more than 40 times. The first two tent cities have been closed.

Matthew Rodriguez: 206-464-3192 or mrodriguez@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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