Lacey City Council will consider an ordinance Thursday that appears to be directed at those who are homeless and seek shelter in public places, such as a park, street or any “publicly owned parking lot or publicly owned area, improved or unimproved.”
In the city’s agenda materials, the city says “recent case law suggests that regulations which prohibit camping in public areas are permissible provided adequate shelter options are available for those camping due to lack of shelter.”
“In the Lacey-Olympia-Tumwater area, there are several such shelters available, some partly funded by public means,” the agenda reads.
Allowing such camping presents health and safety concerns for the public, according to the city.
The proposed ordinance spells out the penalty for violations as well as “compassionate enforcement” steps that investigating police officers can take.
If the ordinance is approved by the council, violations would be treated as a misdemeanor, with convictions resulting in a fine of as much as $1,000, or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both.
Officers, though, would be directed to inquire whether the camping is due to homelessness, and when it is, either provide directions to or offer one-time transport to a shelter. The officer also has the option to issue a citation.
If shelter space is full, the officer “shall not issue a citation,” according to the proposed ordinance.
Lacey City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lacey City Hall, 420 College St. SE.