The Hoquiam City Council passed an ordinance last week setting a 120-day limit on homeless camps inside the city.
Such camps have been hosted by local churches for the past year, and earlier this month one relocated at Our Lady of Good Help Catholic Church.
The ordinance has worked its way through the city’s Planning Commission and City Council process, and went through two revisions and two public hearings before the third version passed unanimously.
The ordinance sets down ground rules. Firearms and other weapons, alcohol and drugs, fighting, abuse of any kind and disturbing the neighbors are all prohibited. Also incorporated are health and safety regulations for a hygienic and safe environment.
An earlier version required that the “host” agencies report individuals to the Hoquiam Police Department if an individual was rejected or ejected from the camp because of a warrant.This requirement has been dropped, as long as the organization is doing background checks and not allowing registered sex offenders or those who have active Hoquiam Municipal Court warrants to reside at the camp.
In the original draft, there also was no provision to allow the host agency to dispute or appeal a determination by the City Administrator that permit violations have occurred at an encampment. The new ordinance allows the agency to present evidence and dispute or explain any violations. During this process, the agency would have 14 days to fix any violations that exist.