UPDATE: The Puyallup United Methodist Church has withdrawn its notice of intent to establish a homeless encampment on its property, as previously announced. Any future decision by the church to seek a permit of this kind would be shared publicly prior to any permit being issued.
The Puyallup United Methodist Church (“Church”) has submitted a letter to the City regarding their intent to host a temporary homeless encampment on its property located at 1919 West Pioneer in Puyallup. According to the letter, the temporary encampment would be for “unhoused families with children in the Puyallup School District living in their vehicles.”
In accordance with court decisions and Washington State law, religious organizations have the right to host temporary homeless encampments, subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the City. For the Church to host a temporary encampment, the Church must apply for, and obtain, a permit from the City. At this time, the Church has not yet submitted a complete application, nor has a permit been issued. City staff and Church staff will be meeting to discuss this matter.
Pursuant to the Puyallup Municipal Code, a temporary encampment can only operate up to 90 days, serve a maximum of forty (40) people, and a church can only host a temporary encampment once per year. In addition, to ensuring compliance with all applicable state and local laws concerning water, fire, solid waste disposal, human waste, electrical systems and stormwater quality, a temporary encampment would also be required to provide:
• Fencing or landscaping to screen the encampment from neighboring properties;
• An operations and security plan;
• Background checks, including for sex offender status;
• A code of conduct prohibiting alcohol, weapons, illegal drugs, loitering in the surrounding neighborhood, trespassing on private property, and littering in the encampment or surrounding neighborhood; and
• A process for ejection for failure to comply with the code of conduct.
The forgoing list is not exhaustive. The full provisions of the process and requirements for establishing a temporary homeless encampment in the City of Puyallup can be read here. (Puyallup Municipal Code Chapter 20.73).
Before any permit is issued, the Church is required to host a community meeting, notifying all property owners with 1,000 feet of the proposed site, to share information about this proposal. Notice will be given at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting. Any person may participate and provide comments, and no permit would be issued prior to this public process.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:
Jeff Wilson, Director of Development & Permitting Services -- firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-841-5502
Rachael Brown, Assistant Planner -- RNBrown@puyallupwa.gov or 253-770-3363
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