Parking facilities

The county plan would create parking facilities for the homeless

TACOMA, WA — A new proposal from Pierce County Council could end up setting aside parking lots for use by homeless people.

Earlier this month, the county council adopted a comprehensive plan to end homelessness, consisting of several short-term and long-term solutions to the recent rapid growth of homelessness in the county. As part of that effort, this week’s advice is seen as an ordinance that would allow businesses, organizations or other landowners in unincorporated parts of the county to create parking lots for homeless residents who live off their vehicles.

“It is by no means a panacea for tackling homelessness, but providing safe parking is identified as one of many strategies for action in our recently adopted comprehensive plan,” Council Member Ryan Mello said. at the court order hearing on Monday. “We are moving forward on so many fronts, and this is one of the simpler ones that I think we can move quickly on.”

If passed, a hosting organization such as a church or community center would be permitted to use part of its parking lot to host either:

  • 2 passenger vehicles, without stipulations.
  • 3-7 passenger vehicles, if they can provide access to restrooms, water and trash.

Facilities with 8 or more vehicles or any RV will need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit. Hosts installing facilities of any size will also need to invite adjacent neighbors to a community meeting to discuss the installation and hear neighbor concerns.

A supporter like council member Jani Hitchens says the goal of the parking proposal is to create smaller places where people can stay, even in communities that don’t have the space or need for one. full homeless shelter.

“It will provide a network of possible spaces across our entire geographic area, from both sides of the water to the mountain,” Hitchens said.

The order was heard by the county’s Community Development Committee on Monday. He is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the full board on May 16. If passed, the ordinance will take effect June 1 of this year and will remain in effect for six months unless extended or passed into Pierce County code. .

Other short-term solutions the county approved this month include creating a pilot bus pass program, more funding for case management services, and creating a new temporary shelter to help residents transition to permanent housing.

In the long term, the council said its goal is to create a state of “functional zero”, where anyone who has lost their home and is on the verge of becoming homeless can find a place in a local shelter and receive support as she tries to find permanent housing once again.

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins