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Originally published Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 11:26 AM

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Sammamish OKs moratorium on homeless camps; Tent City is out

The Sammamish City Council has approved an emergency six-month moratorium on homeless encampments.Tent City 4 members plan to follow the rules and move Friday but don’t know where they’ll go.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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At the end of last week it looked as if Tent City 4 might extend its first stay in Sammamish at another one of the city’s churches. Good Samaritan Episcopal Church had unanimously approved taking in the homeless encampment after its 90-day stay at Mary, Queen of Peace expires Friday.

But Tuesday night — a day after Good Samaritan announced, without explanation, that it could not take the encampment after all — the Sammamish City Council approved an emergency six-month moratorium on homeless encampments.

Tent City 4 members say they plan to follow the rules and move Friday, but they don’t know where they’ll go.

Church-property options are limited throughout the Eastside by city ordinances that prevent encampments from staying in some cities more than once per year and at one location for more than 90 days a year.

In their plea to stay in Sammamish longer, Tent City 4 member Anna Low told the council the encampment is trying to find site alternatives but has been unsuccessful.

“We wish someone else would invite us, but no one else has offered,” said Low. “We are at risk of scattering.”

The encampment of 40 to 60 people was invited to stay in Sammamish in October under a temporary-use permit that was extended from 60 to 90 days to help get its members through the holidays.

Donations and volunteering to help the encampment were at an all-time high in Sammamish, said Tent City 4 member Red Manchester.

Kathi Rowley, a volunteer-projects coordinator for Mary, Queen of Peace, said she was so overwhelmed by people wanting to help the encampment that she had to get creative.

So many people — including Seahawks tight end Luke Willson — offered to buy and serve meals that the encampment, instead of getting just dinner, usually had free lunches and breakfasts, she said.

Parish administrator Rich Shively said the encampment didn’t create any problems in the area and successfully policed its own problems.

Council members supporting the moratorium said the community deserves proper notice when such encampments move in nearby and that the six-month period would help the city develop a permanent process for welcoming homeless encampments again.

The Sammamish City Council will hold a public hearing on the ordinance at its March 4 meeting.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or avaughn@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.



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