OLYMPIA — More than 100 people came to the Olympia City Council meeting Monday night, and most testified in a public hearing to support Quixote Village, a proposed permanent village for the homeless.
Thurston County commissioners have offered to locate the village on 1.6 acres of county property on Mottman Road west of R.W. Johnson Boulevard.
The board of Panza, a nonprofit that runs a homeless tent city called Camp Quixote, would like to build 30 one-room cottages on the site, with a central building for cooking, laundry, showers and meetings. The goal is to be eco-friendly with a community garden and lots of trees.
Because the land is in the City of Olympia, the City Council ultimately would have to rezone the site, which is now zoned light industrial. The council didn’t take action Monday night but may make a decision about the rezoning next month.
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Quixote Village would be a permanent site for Camp Quixote, an itinerant tent city that formed in 2007 but is required by ordinance to move every 180 days.
“All we want is a place that we know that we’re not going to have to leave,” said Tinamarie Swihart, a resident of the camp.
Fewer than 10 people spoke in opposition. Many said they have a business in the industrial park across the street. They questioned whether the site was appropriate, with the noise of tractor-trailers and industrial uses going on 24 hours a day.
“Basically, I think everyone knows that Mottman Road is a lousy place to put this place,” said John Peranzi, who owns property that abuts the proposed village site.
County Commissioners Karen Valenzuela and Cathy Wolfe spoke in favor.
“Commissioners began this journey because citizens brought the idea to us,” Valenzuela said. “We hope that you will stay in this partnership with us and help bring this wonderful vision to fruition.”
The Olympia Planning Commission voted 8-3 in June to recommend the village be allowed after an earlier public hearing in which more than 100 people showed up, mostly to express support.
The camp began on a small, city-owned lot at State Avenue and Columbia Street in downtown Olympia as a protest of the city’s Pedestrian Interference Ordinance, which went into effect that day. The measure made it a misdemeanor to sit, lie down, sell things or ask for money within six feet of the edge of a downtown building during certain hours, with limited exceptions.
After police evicted the camp, it rotated among local churches every 90 days, until last month when the Olympia City Council voted to change the limit to 180 days.
The camp is now at United Churches of Olympia at 110 11th Ave. S.E.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869