1000-01
REMOVAL OF GARBAGE AND TEMPORARY SHELTERS

POLICY & PROCEDURE

Subject:

REMOVAL OF GARBAGE AND TEMPORARY SHELTERS AND CAMPSITES ON PUBLIC PROPERTY, TRESPASS ON PUBLIC PROPERTY, NOTICE OF INTENT TO SEIZE UNATTENDED PROPERTY LEFT ON PUBLIC LAND, AND NOTICE FOR RETRIEVAL OF PROPERTY

Index: Legal

Number: 1000-01

Effective Date:

11/15/2013

Supersedes:

n/a

Page:

1 of 9

Staff Contact:

Lawrence J. Warren

Approved By:

Denis Law

1.0 PURPOSE:

The City of Renton receives complaints from citizens, businesses and others which relate to the health, safety and welfare arising in and around areas in which individuals have erected temporary shelters on public land in City owned parks, trails, or public open space areas, consisting of non-developed natural physical areas, including but not limited to natural areas and wetlands.

The City of Renton hereby sets forth its policies and procedures for removing temporary shelters on public property and removing garbage, litter and waste to protect the public health, safety and welfare of its residents. Further, the City expresses its intention to implement these policies in a manner which balances the needs and rights of all its citizens, including the residents of temporary shelters and to recognize the constitutional rights of all its citizens to their attended or unattended or unabandoned personal property and possessions left on public land.

2.0 ORGANIZATIONS AFFECTED:

All departments/divisions.

3.0 REFERENCES:

RCW Chapter 9A.52;

RCW Chapter 63.21;

RCW Chapter 63.32;

RMC Chapter 1-3;

RMC Chapter 2-9;

RMC Chapter 6-10;

RMC Chapter 6-14;

RMC Chapter 8-1;

Washington State Constitution;

Art. 1, Sec. 3, United States Constitution;

Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment

4.0 POLICY:

It is the policy of the City of Renton to respond to complaints and concerns arising from the erection of temporary shelters and campsites in parks and upon public property, and the accumulation of garbage, litter and waste at such locations, and for public health and safety, and which recognizes and respects a person’s fundamental right to personal property, all in a manner which complies with applicable state and federal laws. This policy does not establish any individual right to erect temporary shelters or otherwise encroach upon public or private property.

5.0 DEFINITIONS:

5.1    “Park” shall include the following areas, facilities and buildings owned, operated, maintained or managed by the City of Renton: parks, trails, open space areas (a non-developed physical area, including but not limited to natural areas and wetlands), the Maplewood Golf Course, and recreation buildings.

5.2    “Public buildings and property” includes any and all public building or facilities, restrooms, or real property owned by the City of Renton.

5.3    “Temporary shelter” includes any structure, whether made from cardboard, wood, canvas, branches, rocks, a tent or camping equipment, or any other natural or artificial material, or any combination thereof, for the purpose of providing shelter for an occupant(s) and which does not comply with City codes for habitable housing.

5.4    “Trespass or trespassing” shall mean entry into or upon a park or public building or public property without the permission or consent of the City, or staying in a public park or in a public building or upon public property, after a lawful request to leave the park, public building or public property has been made by authorized City park personnel, or a law enforcement officer or code enforcement officer.

5.5    “Garbage” is all putrescible and nonputrescible solid and semi-solid waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food, including but not limited to garbage, rubbish, swill, refuse, trash, debris, ashes, bulky waste, construction or demolition and land clearing waste, human or animal excrement or urine, or property or material infested with bacteria, human or animal excrement or urine, maggots, or other insects, or vermin or rodents or their feces, and that poses a health hazard.

5.6    “Hazardous waste” is any wastes included in the State of Washington, Department of Ecology Dangerous Waste Regulations, Chapter 173-303 WAC.

5.7    “Moderate risk waste” is any waste that exhibits any of the properties of dangerous or hazardous waste but is exempt from regulation under RCW Chapter 70.102 solely because the waste is generated in quantities below the threshold for regulation and any household wastes that are generated from the disposal of substances identified by the Washington State Department of Ecology as hazardous household substances.

5.8    “Litter” is garbage, refuse and rubbish as defined herein as garbage, and all other waste material which, if thrown or deposited on the ground tends to create a danger to public health, safety and welfare.

5.9    “Person” as used herein means any person or persons.

5.10    “Authorized personnel” shall include any City of Renton agent, contractor, employee, official, representative, park personnel, law enforcement officer or code enforcement officer.

5.11    “Administrator” shall mean the Community Services Administrator or his or her designee.

5.12    “Police Chief” shall mean the chief law enforcement officer of the City of Renton or his or her designee.

5.13    “Nuisance” as used herein shall mean any unlawful, unkempt, unsafe, unsanitary, improperly maintained or constructed shelter or premises, or properties, or illegal and/or code violating conduct which creates potentially grave habitability, health, safety, sanitation, or welfare concerns for residents of the City of Renton, or where such temporary shelter is unfit for human habitation and is inimical to the health, safety and welfare of the occupants and residents of the City of Renton.

5.14    “Unattended property or unabandoned property” as used herein means items of personal property left unattended in a park or public building or upon public property.

5.15    “Abandoned property” means items of personal property left by the owner in a park or public building or upon public property with the intent to relinquish any claim or right to the property.

5.16    “Lost and found property” means items of personal property that a person finds and that is not unlawful to possess, and for which the owner is unknown, and which the finder surrenders to the Police Chief or his or her designee, and for which state law requires that a notice be published within thirty (30) days of when the personal property was found, unless the value of the property found is less than the cost of publishing the notice, in which event the Police Chief or his or her designee shall cause notice to be posted or published in other media or formats that do not incur expense to the City.

5.17    “Unclaimed property” means items of personal property that are in the custody or possession of the Police Chief or his or her designee, and that remains unclaimed for a period of sixty (60) days from the date of notice to the owner thereof, if known, which notice shall inform the owner of the custody and possession of the personal property by the Police Chief, unless the personal property is being held as evidence in any court, the disposition of the personal property if unclaimed, and the time period that the owner has to claim the personal property, unless said property is unlawful to possess, and that such personal property shall be disposed of in accordance with state law.

5.18    “Procedural due process” as used herein means a constitutional method of providing notice to persons who have left their personal property in parks, public buildings or upon public property, that such property will be removed by the City or its employees, agents, contractors, officials, representatives, law enforcement officers or code enforcement officers, and that such personal property will be in the custody and possession of the Police Chief or his or her designee, and may be claimed therefrom in accordance with state law.

5.19    “Claim of entitlement” as used herein means any claim of ownership of personal property, removed by the City from parks, public buildings or upon public property, and for which the person making such claim can reasonably prove ownership or right to possession or control of such property, as required by state law.

6.0 PROCEDURES:

6.1    Notice or complaints of temporary shelters or campsites upon City-owned property.

6.1.1    The City of Renton routinely receives notice or complaints of temporary shelters or campsites located in parks or upon public property, accompanied with requests to remove garbage, litter and waste from such locations, as it poses a risk to public health, safety and welfare. A complaint that is not requesting immediate or urgent law enforcement intervention due to public safety concerns should be directed to the Administrator of the Community Services Department or his or her designee.

6.1.2    A trespass may occur if a person enters into or remains in a park, public building or upon public property, after hours of operation or in violation of RMC 2-9-8 (Park Rules and Regulations), or that is not open to the public, or after a lawful request to leave the park, public building or public property by authorized park personnel or a law enforcement officer or code enforcement officer. If a trespass is suspected, the Administrator or his or her designee should contact the Police Chief or his or her designee to coordinate a response to persons occupying temporary shelters or campsites in parks or upon public property, to insure reasonable advance notice of removal of the temporary shelter or campsite, area clean-up, and removal of garbage, litter and waste, and the City’s intent to seize or remove unattended or unabandoned personal property, and the means for persons to retrieve or recover their unattended and unabandoned property from the Police Chief or his or her designee.    

6.1.3    Following investigation of the notice or complaint by the Administrator or his or her designee, if it is determined that a temporary shelter or campsite exists in a park or upon public property, and garbage, litter or waste must be removed from said location, and the area involved is within 200 feet of an area which contains temporary shelters or campsites and the unattended or unabandoned personal property of persons occupying such temporary shelters or campsites, and absent exigent circumstances such as an immediate threat to public health or safety, such removal of temporary shelters or campsites or garbage, litter or waste, shall not occur until at least two (2) days after the posting and/or service of written notice in a form substantially similar to the notice attached hereto as Exhibit A. The posting of said notice shall be affixed to the temporary shelter or campsite or upon a stake located within fifty (50) feet of the temporary shelter or campsite. If any occupant of the temporary shelter or campsite is present at the time notice is posted, a verbal notice shall also be extended by authorized personnel to the effect that the occupants are trespassing and will have to vacate and should take their personal property with them. Such notice shall be posted by authorized personnel of the City’s Community Services Department, as determined by the Administrator or his or her designee, and a copy of the notice posted and the date and time of posting said notice shall be recorded and maintained by the City Clerk.

6.1.4    The posting and/or service of the notice referenced in Exhibit A attached hereto shall be performed in a manner which is reasonably calculated to provide effective notice to any persons or occupants of the nearby or adjacent temporary shelters or campsites. Whenever possible, the notice shall describe the area subject to removal of temporary shelters or campsites, removal of garbage, litter and waste, and/or unattended or unabandoned personal property, as clearly as possible (e.g., the west side of the 1700 block of Oakesdale Ave and/or by GPS coordinates).

6.1.5    As part of the removal of any garbage, litter and waste from areas of temporary shelters or campsites, the City of Renton shall not destroy any unattended or unabandoned personal property which appears to be the property of any person. Personal property may include, but is not limited to clothing, shoes, jackets, tents, sleeping bags, bed rolls, blankets, backpacks, duffel bags, bicycles, tools, watches, jewelry, audio and video equipment, medications, medical records, toiletries, eyeglasses, pursues, handbags, personal papers, equipment, photographs, books, baby strollers, or carts.

6.1.6    Garbage, litter and waste shall be removed from temporary shelters and campsites, and deposited by the City into an appropriate solid waste landfill suitable for receiving such items. Clothing, shoes, jackets, tents, sleeping bags, bed rolls, blankets, backpacks, or duffel bags or personal property, which are infested with bacteria from human or animal excrement or urine, maggots, or other insects, or vermin or rodents, or their feces, or that pose a health hazard shall be disposed of as garbage, litter and waste. Personal property that is unattended does not necessarily mean that it has been discarded or abandoned by the owner. When there is reasonable doubt whether the property is garbage, litter or waste, or is valuable personal property, the City shall resolve the issue in favor of the conclusion that the property is valuable and it shall not be disposed of as garbage, litter or waste, but shall be secured and placed in the custody and possession of the Police Chief or his or her designee, in accordance with state law.

6.1.7    For purposes of this policy, wooden pallets shall be treated as garbage, litter or waste which may be recycled following removal from parks or other public property.

6.1.8    In situations when the City receives complaints regarding alleged criminal activity at temporary shelters or campsites located in a park, or public buildings, or other public property, including but not limited to nuisance, trespass, drug sales and use, prostitution, assault and the accumulation of garbage, litter and waste, the police department will respond to and handle the situation in accordance with current policy of the Renton Police Department.

6.1.9    If the City is informed by a person or occupant residing in a temporary shelter or campsite located in a park or upon public property that the person is the owner of the personal property, or is the person with a claim of entitlement to ownership, and the owner wishes to relinquish any claim or right to the property, then said personal property shall be deemed to be abandoned property within the meaning of this policy, and may be disposed of in accordance with state law.

6.1.10    Any unattended or unabandoned personal property removed during the clean-up or removal of temporary shelters or campsites in parks or upon public property, and which property is placed into the custody and possession of the Police Chief or his or her designee, and which is not claimed within the statutory time period provided by law, then such unclaimed property may be disposed of by the City after proper notice as provided by state law. When unattended or unabandoned property comes into the possession and custody of the Police Chief or his or her designee, then unless the property is unlawful to possess or is being held as evidence in any court, a person with a claim of entitlement may file a claim with the Police Chief or his or her designee to retrieve said personal property in accordance with state law.

6.1.11    Any notice for removal of temporary shelters or campsites, including removal of any unattended or unabandoned personal property in connection therewith, and removal of garbage, litter or waste, in addition to the notice set forth in subsections 6.1.3 and 6.1.4 above, shall also be served by hand delivery, facsimile or electronic mail on social service organizations located within the City that assist residents of temporary shelters or campsites, as identified by the Community Services Department and so designated to receive such notice by the Administrator or his or her designee. The purpose for providing notice to such social service organizations is to assist residents in reclaiming their unattended and unabandoned property from the Police Chief at no cost to said residents, and to provide notice which is reasonably calculated to provide effective notice to residents of temporary shelters and campsites in parks or upon public property, so such residents may reclaim their personal property.

6.2    Notice or complaints of temporary shelters or campsites upon private property or public property not owned by the City.

6.2.1    In situations when the City receives complaints regarding alleged criminal activity at temporary shelters or campsites located on private property, including but not limited to nuisance, trespass, drug sales and use, prostitution, assault and the accumulation of garbage, litter and waste, the police department will respond to and handle the situation in accordance with current policy of the Renton Police Department.

6.2.2    The City shall not respond to requests from private property owners, or owners of public property not owned by the City, to use City resources to remove garbage, litter or waste, or illegal temporary shelters or campsites from the owners’ private real property or public property not owned by the City. The responsibility for maintaining private real property or public property not owned by the City, free from garbage, litter or waste as required by RMC Chapter 6-14, and RMC Chapter 8-1, or free from nuisances as required by RMC Chapter 1-3, shall be with the owner of the private real property or the governmental entity responsible for public property not owned by the City.

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EXHIBIT A
NOTICE OF TRESPASS AND AREA CLEAN-UP

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE

The City of Renton has received complaints concerning persons remaining upon and/or residing in temporary shelters or campsites erected or constructed in the vicinity of [insert address in bold face type, e.g. 1700 block of Oakesdale Avenue NW and/or GPS coordinates] upon real property owned by the City. Any persons remaining upon or residing in this area are trespassing, and will need to immediately move off this site and must remove any personal property they own.

On [insert day two (2) days in advance of posting per Section 6.1.3 in bold face type, e.g. AUGUST 1, 2013], at [insert time in bold face type, e.g. 9:00 AM], the City of Renton shall conduct a clean-up of the area, including removal of all persons, personal property, temporary shelters or campsites, and garbage, litter or waste from this area.

Persons wishing to reclaim personal property collected by the City as part of the clean-up project may do so by contacting [insert in bold face type the name of the person and their job title, e.g. Sgt. Jane Doe] at the Renton Police Department, 1055 S Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057, at [insert in bold face type the contact telephone number, e.g. 425-430-1234] for a period of sixty (60) days following removal of the property as part of the clean-up project referenced above on [insert in bold face type the date of the clean-up project, e.g. AUGUST 1, 2013]. Personal property collected by the City of Renton in connection with this clean-up project shall be stored, without charge, for sixty (60) days following removal from the clean-up site. After sixty (60) days, any unclaimed property shall be disposed of by the City of Renton in accordance with RCW Chapter 63.32.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact [insert in bold face type the contact person and title, e.g. Jane Smith, Parks & Golf Course Director] at Renton City Hall, 1055 S Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057 at [insert contact telephone number in bold face type, e.g. 425-430-1234].