The ban will take effect Feb. 8, prohibiting camping on all city property, including the steps of City Hall, the artesian well and two parklets parking spaces converted into pocket parks in downtown Olympia.
The council voted 6-1 to pass the first reading of the ordinance in December. The only no vote was council member Jim Cooper, who was absent at Tuesdays meeting.
Homeless camping on the steps of City Hall had been routine since the building opened two years ago, said City Manager Steve Hall.
The number of campers grew from two or three to as many as 15 to 18 at the height in October, Hall said.
Those numbers have since dropped.
The last few weeks, the City Hall is not being used regularly or at all, Hall said. The biggest issues were smoking by the doors, but most people were cooperative; some are not and shouted at security guards.
Passing of the ordinance outraged the more than 20 people who spoke out against it during the meeting.
When I read this ordinance, it becomes glaringly obvious people need a place to camp and go to the bathroom, but what I dont see is a solution to either of those issues, said Kanako Wynkoop, downtown business owner of 17 years.
Its our public; that includes everyone it doesnt just include your peers. We are together. I get up and count my blessings; I dont get up and say Im going to pick on the person who has nothing.
Rob Richards read a letter signed by more than 20 businesses against the ordinance, including Old School Pizzeria, Traditions for Trade and Rainy Day Records.
Student Anna Bean brought a sign with more than 100 signatures of her peers also against the ordinance.
I absolutely agree the ordinances that were passed at the previous meeting and under consideration tonight do not address the root causes of homelessness, and I dont think any of us accepts that they do, said council member Nathaniel Jones. They were not about the root causes; that is a separate issue.
Mayor Stephen Buxbaum showed an interest in putting $35,000 of money set aside for social services toward addressing the citys homeless issue by creating a low-barrier shelter and public restrooms.
One of the reasons I was willing to go along with this ordinance was because I was looking for some movement on homeless services, Buxbaum said. I am still interested in keeping my word, saying I will go forward on this, provided we see action on the homeless services front.
Hall said city staff was going to look into the process of using the social services money to help with the homeless issue. The city will also reach out to other municipalities, including Thurston County.
Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476