Chapter 8.09


8.09.010    Purpose. Revised 12/22

8.09.020    Definitions. Revised 12/22

8.09.030    Unlawful camping on public property. Revised 12/22

8.09.040    Unlawful storage of camp facilities on public property. Revised 12/22

8.09.050    Unlawful use of fires. Revised 12/22

8.09.060    Unlawful environmental damage to public property. Revised 12/22

8.09.070    Unlawful camp – Removal. Revised 12/22

8.09.080    Penalties. Revised 12/22

Prior legislation – Ord. No. 3516.

8.09.010 Purpose. Revised 12/22

It is the purpose of this chapter to prevent the harm to public property caused by the activities of unlawful camping; unlawful storing of camp facilities; unlawful fires; littering; and altering or damaging the natural environment such as diverting water, removing vegetation, and excavation. Camping on public property – erecting and occupying camp facilities for the purpose of facilitating occupation, habitation, or residing in a location – that is not designated as an area for camping creates dangerous public health and safety concerns for those experiencing homelessness, the general public, city employees, and first responders. These activities foster unsanitary conditions, damage the natural environment and critical areas, and interfere with the rights of others to use public property for the purposes for which they were intended.

It is the purpose of this chapter to promote the public health, safety, general welfare, environmental health, economic health, and well-being of the city by keeping public streets, sidewalks, parks, and other public property within the city safe and readily accessible to the public.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)

8.09.020 Definitions. Revised 12/22

The following words, terms, and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meaning ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

A. Available overnight shelter means a public or private shelter, with an overnight space available and open to the individual experiencing homelessness at no charge.

B. Camp means to pitch, erect, or occupy camp facilities for the purpose of, or in such a way as will facilitate habitation, the occupation of, or residing in a location.

C. Camp facilities include, but are not limited to, motor vehicles, trailers, tents, huts, temporary shelters, or other structures that evidence an intent to function as a temporary or permanent place of residence or to demarcate public property under circumstances that evidence an intent to take or hold possession or control of that public property as a person’s residence or tenancy, to the exclusion of others or other uses.

D. Critical area means an area that possesses important natural functions and embodies a variety of important natural and community values. Such areas include wetlands, streams, fish and wildlife habitat, steep slopes, geologic hazard areas, critical aquifer recharge areas, and flood hazard areas as well as the buffers which serve to protect the aforementioned areas.

E. Hazardous material means any material, including any substance, waste, or combination thereof, which because of its quantity, concentration, physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics, may cause or significantly contribute to a present or potential hazard to human health, safety, property, or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise managed.

F. Litter is as defined in KCC 8.04.020 as now enacted or hereafter amended or recodified.

G. Park means and includes all city parks, public squares, park drives, parkways, boulevards, golf courses, park museums, zoos, bathing beaches, gardens, lakes, rivers, ponds, and play and recreation grounds under the jurisdiction of the city of Kent parks and recreation department.

H. Pollutant means and includes anything that may contaminate or contribute to the contamination of any place, area, or location. Examples include without limitation: hazardous materials; paints, varnishes, and solvents; oil and other automotive or motor fluids; liquid and solid wastes, human waste, food wastes, and yard wastes; refuse, rubbish, garbage, litter, or other discarded or abandoned objects and accumulations; floatables such as closed or open cell foam; plastics; pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers; sewage, fecal coliform and pathogens; dissolved and particulate metals; animal wastes; wastes and residues that result from constructing a building or structure; electronics; electric and combustion engines and devices that use electric and combustion engines including parts thereof; hazardous cleaning liquids and materials; any drug as defined by RCW 69.50.101; and any drug paraphernalia as defined in RCW 69.50.101.

I. Public property means all property in which the city has a property interest, including parcels, tracts, easements, and public rights-of-way. The term includes, without limitation, all parks, docks, piers, streets, sidewalks, trails, forests, museums, pools, beaches, open spaces, public squares, the grounds around the city including but not limited to parking lots and structures, breezeways, entryways, planter areas, and storage areas, and any other property in which the city has a property interest of any type.

J. Recreational vehicle means a travel trailer, motor home, truck camper, or camping trailer that is primarily designed and used as temporary living quarters, is either self-propelled or mounted on or drawn by another vehicle, is transient, is not occupied as a primary residence, and is not immobilized or permanently affixed to a mobile home lot.

K. Store or storage means to put aside, accumulate, or to place or leave in a location, property associated with a camp.

L. Street means any highway, avenue, lane, road, street, drive, place, boulevard, alley, right-of-way, and every way or place in the city of Kent open as a matter of right for public vehicular travel.

M. Vegetation means trees, shrubs, grass, weeds, bushes, vines, turf, flowers, seaweed, fungus, and other plant materials, including but not limited to clippings, fallen leaves, fruit, or branches.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)

8.09.030 Unlawful camping on public property. Revised 12/22

A. Unlawful camping. It shall be unlawful for any person to camp on public property, except as allowed in KCC 4.01.090.

B. Public property with sensitive or incompatible uses. The prohibition on camping shall apply at all times on public property with the uses listed in this subsection:

1. Portions of parks that are developed, improved, or maintained for a specified purpose, such as but not limited to recreational structures, picnic shelters, play fields, areas designated or maintained for spectators of events, open fields or maintained grassy areas, designated off-leash dog areas, restrooms, sidewalks, golf courses, designated trails, and parking lots.

2. Critical areas and water supply properties that are owned by the city for the purposes of producing, pumping, storing, treating, and protecting domestic drinking water sources.

3. City-owned buildings, parking lots, and appurtenances used to conduct the business of the city, including, but not limited to, City Hall, the Centennial Center, and the Annex Building located to the east of the Centennial Center; Kent Police Station and police substations; Kent Municipal Court, Kent Corrections Facility, and its Program Annex Building; Kent Senior Center; Kent Commons; Riverbend Golf Complex; public works and parks shops properties; the police and fire station and training center located at 24611 116th Ave. SE, Kent, WA 98030; and the accesso Showare Center.

4. Streets and sidewalks.

5. Properties owned by the city that are not open to the public and which are posted with signs prohibiting trespass.

C. Enforcement suspended. The authority to arrest and file charges for a violation of this section shall be suspended any time there is no available overnight shelter for the individual camping; provided, any person camping on any of the properties set forth in subsection (B) of this section shall be required to immediately remove the camp and its associated camp facilities upon request of a peace officer or other public officer.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22; Ord. No. 4444, § 1, 11-1-22)

8.09.040 Unlawful storage of camp facilities on public property. Revised 12/22

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to store camp facilities on public property.

B. The provisions of this chapter shall not prohibit any vehicle, including a trailer, recreational vehicle, or camper not being used as a residence from being parked within or on any park, in the right-of-way, or other public property in accordance with parking regulations, unless otherwise prohibited by law.

C. Enforcement of this section shall be suspended in the event a person is camping at a location other than a location described in KCC 8.09.030(B) and there is no available overnight shelter for the individual camping.

D. No citation shall be issued for a violation of this section if the person identified as the owner of the camp facilities immediately removes the camp facilities upon request.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)

8.09.050 Unlawful use of fires. Revised 12/22

It shall be unlawful for any person to build any fire or maintain open flames for any purpose on public property except in designated areas in parks when parks are open.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)

8.09.060 Unlawful environmental damage to public property. Revised 12/22

It shall be unlawful for any person to do the following on public property, unless expressly permitted or otherwise authorized by the city:

1. Dump, throw, deposit or discharge any pollutant;

2. Deposit urine or feces into or onto a place other than a receptacle intended for the deposit of urine or feces;

3. Destroy or alter vegetation through cutting, clearing, grading, or harvesting;

4. Construct or create trails not expressly authorized by the city, or damage existing city trails;

5. Remove or excavate soil, sand, gravel, minerals, or organic matter of any kind; provided it shall not be unlawful to do so at a public park in areas intended for digging as a form of recreation;

6. Drain or increase the water level of a body of water, river, creek or stream, or divert or impede water flow of any river, creek or stream; or

7. Disturb wildlife dens, burrows, or nests.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)

8.09.070 Unlawful camp – Removal. Revised 12/22

Upon a determination by the city that a camp has been established on public property in violation of this chapter, camp facilities, and all other personal property, contraband, and pollutants shall be removed subject to the following provisions:

A. Immediate removal of unlawful camp. If an unlawful camp is on public property described in KCC 8.09.030(B), the city may immediately remove any personal property, camp facilities, and all other property, contraband, pollutants, and waste and store it or dispose of it as set forth in subsection (C) of this section; provided, the owner shall be provided an opportunity to immediately remove the property if present or if they arrive during the removal of the property.

B. Removal of unlawful camp following posted notice. For all other unlawful camps on public property, the following shall occur:

1. At least 48 hours before the removal of the camp facilities and personal property, the city will post a notice to remove property containing:

a. The requirement to remove the camp facilities and personal property within the designated time period.

b. Information on the process individuals camping or storing personal property within the camp area may use to petition for a reasonable amount of additional time to leave the camp area and remove their property.

c. Information regarding the availability of assistance from social services and available overnight shelter options.

2. If the camp facilities and personal property, contraband, pollutants, and waste remain at the end of the notice period set forth in subsection (B)(1) of this section, it may be removed by the city; provided, the owner shall be provided an opportunity to immediately remove the property if they arrive during the city’s removal of the property and do not unreasonably delay the city’s removal of the property.

C. Storage of property associated with an unlawful camp.

1. In the event the city removes the camp facilities and personal property in accordance with this section, the city will attempt to determine the owner of any property of obvious value (e.g., items needed for survival such as blankets and clothing, legal documents, personal papers, government identification, labeled medications), will arrange for storage of the property, and will attempt to provide notice to the owner of the property as to how they may claim the property.

2. The city will not store property that it has reasonable grounds to believe is stolen or illegal to own or possess, nor shall the city be required to store property that is hazardous to health or safety, perishable, or of no apparent value.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)

8.09.080 Penalties. Revised 12/22

A. Except as otherwise provided, a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter is a misdemeanor.

B. Fines shall not be imposed as a penalty for a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter.

C. The city will not object to the entry of a deferred prosecution pursuant to Chapter 10.05 RCW if eligible, nor will the city object to the court entering a deferred sentence for violations of this chapter in all cases where: (1) a licensed or certified medical professional or certified agency recommends mental health or substance use disorder treatment; (2) the defendant agrees to comply with, and the court orders the defendant to comply with, the treatment plan recommended by the medical professional or certified agency as a condition of the deferred sentence; and (3) the defendant understands and agrees that the court will revoke any deferred sentence if the offender fails to comply with any of the terms of the deferred sentence.

D. The city will also not object to a future request by an individual to vacate a record of conviction for any conviction related to an offense prosecuted under this chapter.

(Ord. No. 4443, § 2, 10-18-22)