The Redmond Planning Commission held a public hearing Aug. 20 to discuss proposed amendments to the Redmond Community Development Guide (RCDG), specifically regarding temporary land uses.
Presently, the RCDG has two sets of code which address temporary uses. The codes are very similar, yet not identical, thus causing confusion as to which set of code to follow and which standards are in effect.
Steven Fischer, senior planner for the City of Redmond, suggested that the duplicative codes could be amended by striking the majority of code from section 20F, moving it to section 20D, adding “temporary encampment” to the list of allowed temporary uses (along with uses such as Christmas tree lots, art shows or mobile veterinary clinics) and providing clear definitions of standards and decision criteria for temporary uses.
In 2007, when St. Jude’s Catholic Church on Education Hill hosted the Tent City 4 temporary encampment for the homeless, there was strong opposition from many residents of that neighborhood, based on safety and public health concerns.
The turnout at the Aug. 20 hearing was small and included many positive comments about the services provided by Tent City 4 and congregations such as St. Jude’s which have welcomed the homeless.
A few speakers at the hearing — not all of whom live in Redmond — qualified that they understood the needs of the homeless and appreciated humanitarian efforts on their behalf, but asked about limiting the length of encampments’ stays and imposing more thorough background checks for Tent City residents, to be repeated every time they move from one location to another.
One Education Hill resident stated that her neighbor’s home was burglarized by someone who’d been ejected from Tent City and that someone had attempted to break into her home, as well. She said she would like more assurance that people who were asked to leave the encampment would be escorted out of the neighborhood.
The Redmond Reporter checked with Redmond Police for background on calls related to Tent City during its tenure at St. Jude’s.
Commander Shari Shovlin reported that there were 26 such calls for service during that timeframe, roughly equal to the number of calls that police receive from Redmond apartment complexes with the same number of residents.
Shovlin confirmed that there was one residential break-in committed by a man who had been rejected from Tent City and was later seen pitching a tent elsewhere in the neighborhood. The break-in occurred when the victims were not home. The suspect was apprehended, arrested and charged.
Eleven calls to police were for warrant arrests; people who attempted to gain access to Tent City were immediately identified through the criminal background check process and police were called and came to pick them up.
One man who was told to leave Tent City asked police officers for a ride and during a pat-down, he was found to have drug paraphernalia. He was arrested.
A couple of calls were requests to deliver emergency messages to Tent City residents who did not have phones.
There also were five or six calls from Education Hill residents stating that they saw someone who looked “suspicious.” In these instances, people from the encampment were walking through the neighborhood but not committing crimes.
Shovlin concluded that during Tent City’s stay at St. Jude’s, calls were handled just as they would be in any other neighborhood in Redmond. She added that most residents seemed satisfied with officers’ responses and aware that police officers must respect the constitutional rights of everyone in Redmond, including the homeless.
Oral testimony about the proposed code changes in reference to temporary uses has now been closed, but written testimonies are still being accepted via e-mail or regular mail and the public is invited to attend study sessions of the Redmond Planning Commission as they continue to review this topic.
For information, contact Steven Fischer, senior planner at email@example.com or (425) 556-2432 or visit the Redmond Planning Commission section of the City of Redmond Web site, www.redmond.gov.