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Interim Emergency Housing Ordinance

The interim Emergency Housing Ordinance was first approved onn Tuesday June 25, 2019 with a vote of 2-1 by the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) (Ordinance 15792). The Ordinance became effective immediately. The ordinance has interim regulations that provide the Director optional flexibility to waive certain permitting requirements for a homeless encampment. To keep the ordinance valid, the BoCC must pass the interim ordinance with a majority vote every six months. The Board renewed the interim ordinance June 9, 2020 (Ordinance 15902), and renewed and amended the ordinance on December 1, 2020 (Ordinance 15948). See the most recent Interim Emergency Housing Ordinance 15948 (PDF). 

UPDATE for 2021: Interim Emergency Housing Ordinance up for public hearing

A public hearing with the BoCC is scheduled for May 25, 2021 at 3:00 pm. The Board may take action to renew the ordinance following the public hearing or at any meeting after. This hearing will be held in-person and virtually. If you'd like to attend virtually, you must register in advance and can do so by visiting the Board of County Commissioner's public meetings calendar for details (a link to the virtual public hearing will be posted 1 week prior to the hearing). Written comments can be provided prior to 12:00 pm May 25 to Shannon Shula CPED, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia WA 98502 or by emailing her. View the draft ordinance to renew interim regulations

Homeless Encampment Background: (what was allowed before adopting the interim ordinance)

  • Homeless encampments are permitted administratively as a temporary use subject to conditions.

  • The permitting of homeless encampments is conditional on the fulfillment of a public notice and informational meeting.

    • Informational meeting to be held within ten (10) days of filing the notice of application.

    • Notification for all public schools in the homeless encampment school district.

    • Signs or placards at the site.

  • Homeless encampments may not currently exceed one hundred eighty days.

  • Homeless encampments must meet all other homelessness encampment requirements in Thurston County Code. 

NEW: Adopted Interim Regulations NEW Process (what is now allowed under interim regulations)

  • Upon adoption of an emergency resolution by the Board, the Director of Community Planning and Economic Development would be able to waive certain requirements.

  • Any waiver of requirements would be allowed for a six (6) month period, and may allow more residents in the encampment.

  • The waiver may be extended if the Board holds a public hearing and finds a public health emergency continues to exist. The waiver can be extended for an additional six (6) month period.

  • A minor amendment was added through the December 1, 2020 BoCC public hearing process allowing Recreational Vehicles in RV encampments to utilize their integrated cooking and heating units within the RV.

  • As proposed, any requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Director or designee except for the following requirements;

    • All sanitary portable toilets shall be screened from adjacent properties and rights-of-way.

    • All temporary structures within the homeless encampment shall conform to all building codes.

    • The homeless encampment shall conform to fire safety requirements.

    • The host agency shall provide to all residents of the homeless encampment a "Code of Conduct" for living at the encampment.

    • All homeless encampment residents must sign an agreement to abide by the code of conduct. Failure to abide by the code of conduct and the operations and security plan shall result in the noncompliant resident's immediate and permanent expulsion from the property.

    • The sponsoring agency shall self police and self manage its residents and shall prohibit alcohol, illegal drugs, fighting, and abuse of any kind, littering or disturbing neighbors while located on the property.