Proposed Emergency Housing Ordinance Interim Regulations

UPDATE: Ordinance Adopted

On Tuesday June 25, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners voted (2 to 1) to approve the Emergency Housing Ordinance. The Ordinance became effective immediately. The County is in the process of updating the online Thurston County Code with the the new language.

Public Hearing:

On Wednesday May 7, 2019 at 3:00 p.m., the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing. The hearing gathered public testimony on temporary regulations for emergency homeless encampments. The proposed interim regulations offer waivers to some existing requirements for homeless encampments. The purpose of the proposed interim regulations is to increase flexibility in permitting emergency homeless encampments to more effectively address the Homeless Public Health Crisis (as established in Resolution No. H-2-2018).

The interim regulations, as amended, would add provisions to several chapters to the Thurston County Code, including Chapter 20.35, for the rural county, Chapter 21.64 for the unincorporated Lacey Urban Growth Area, Chapter 22.51 for the unincorporated Tumwater Urban Growth Area, and Chapter 23.45 for the unincorporated Olympia Urban Growth Area.

OLD: Homeless Encampment Background: OLD Process (what was allowed under existing regulations)

  • 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 NEW 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 could be extended for an additional six (6) month period.
  • 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 will use identification to obtain sex offender and warrant checks from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.
    • The sponsoring agency shall self police and self manage its residents and shall prohibit alcohol, drugs, weapons, fighting, and abuse of any kind, littering or disturbing neighbors while located on the property.

Homelessness Public Health Crisis ResolutionEmergency Housing Ordinance |
Memorandum to the Board of County Commissioners | Thurston County Code on Homeless Encampments (Old) |


If you have any questions, please email Ian Lefcourte, or call (360) 786-5505.