Tent City 4 gains city approval, will return to Redmond April 23
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
April 7, 2011 · Updated 10:02 AM
On Monday night, city officials held a public meeting to give the community the opportunity to ask questions or express concerns about having the homeless encampment on the grassy grounds at St. Jude Catholic Church, located at 10526 166th Ave N.E. in Redmond.
The meeting was just one step the City of Redmond must follow through on to approve the short-term temporary-use permit St. Jude and Tent City 4 applied for a permit to bring the camp to Redmond for about three months, beginning April 23.
The permit was approved earlier this week, allowing Tent City 4 to be on the church's grounds for up to 110 days. Along with the permit came a number of conditions the encampment must abide by, such as plumbing and electrical code requirements, limiting the number of parking spaces in the parking lot and cleaning the area when they leave.
Steve Fischer, a principal planner for the city, said this is the third time in five years that Tent City 4 will be in Redmond and this was his third public meeting. All three meetings have been in the cafeteria at Redmond Junior High School, which is just southwest of St. Jude at 10055 166th Ave. N.E.
Fischer said the meetings have gone from standing-room-only to a little more than a dozen, most of which were Tent City 4 residents. He takes the low attendance as a sign that community has become more accepting and welcoming of the camp — fewer people means fewer concerns.
Dave Rogerson, the pastor at St. Jude, agrees. He said after Redmond citizens have seen Tent City 4 residents going to and from work and contributing to the local community, any controversy circling the encampment has gone down.
Rogerson said in the past, Tent City 4 has been very successful on their grounds and he is looking forward to hosting the camp again.
"It's been a good experience for us," he said.
As part of the permitting process, the City of Redmond sent out a public notice and comment form to residents living within a 500-foot radius of St. Jude. The church also put up a sign on its property to inform people about what was happening. People were given three weeks to send in responses, the end of which was Monday. Fischer said during that time, he received one comment for and one against the camp — a dramatic drop from the numerous phone calls, emails and handwritten notes he was flooded with the first time Tent City 4 came to Redmond in 2007.
At the meeting, Tent City 4 residents gave a short presentation about their encampment and its importance. The main reason being survival as "there are many people dying outside in King County," one resident said. The residents, who have been at Tent City 4 anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, also said the camp gives them a place to keep their possessions safe when they have to go to work or go on job interviews.
Tent City 4, which is sponsored and managed by SHARE/WHEEL (Seattle Housing and Resource Efforts and Women's Housing, Equality, and Enhancement League) is a self-operated and self-governed, democratic society. The residents hold weekly meetings and have a strict code of conduct for things such as drugs, alcohol and violence.
Fischer said the permit should be approved sometime this week.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.