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Tent Cities Could Extend Stays Under King County Ordinance

Tent cities would be allowed to stay longer on land in King County under a proposal before the King County Council.

Under current law, the homeless encampments are required to move every three months. A King County ordinance would extend that to four months. During a public hearing before the King County Council Monday, Alan Bolin said he’d be grateful if he didn’t have to spend so much energy moving every 90 days.

“We’re talking about the quality of people’s lives. There’s quite a few people in my camp that are working and to have the stability to put the effort in to find a job,” he said.

Lengthening the time limit for tent cities is part of broader legislation. A 10-year land use ordinance regarding the encampments is set to expire, and the council is looking at renewing it. There could be more regulations added as well, including requiring more criminal background checks for tent city residents — something some neighbors are pushing for.

But some tent city residents counter that that would be discriminatory.

Afterall, they say, other people moving into a neighborhood aren’t subject to background checks.

The King County Council will take up the legislation on Dec. 8.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.