Chapter 21.74
TEMPORARY OUTDOOR ENCAMPMENTS, EXTREME WEATHER SHELTERS AND HOUSING FOR THE HOMELESS

Sections:

21.74.005    Purpose.

21.74.010    Regulations established.

21.74.020    Definitions.

21.74.030    Requirements.

21.74.050    Permit required.

21.74.060    Application.

21.74.070    Decision and appeal.

21.74.005 Purpose.

The city of Lynnwood finds it is necessary to promote solutions to the complex problem of homelessness. One solution is to facilitate sponsors of temporary shelters in existing structures and in temporary outdoor encampments organized and managed by faith-based organizations, nonprofits and public agencies. These facilities do not represent a permanent solution to homelessness but rather can provide vitally needed shelter and a first step to more permanent forms of housing. This chapter reflects guidance provided by WAC 51-16-030 and by federal law that religious institutions are free to practice their faith including offering assistance to the homeless, and to encourage exemptions from building and related codes for housing the indigent, on the basis that it is safer for people to live in organized shelter rather than outside. If permanent housing solutions are developed, they will be subject to full compliance with city zoning and building codes. (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018)

21.74.010 Regulations established.

Regulations concerning the establishment and processing of applications for temporary outdoor encampments, extreme weather shelters and indigent housing (per WAC 51-16-030) in the city are hereby established. Establishing such facilities contrary to the provisions of this chapter is prohibited. Temporary use permits shall be required for temporary outdoor encampments and extreme weather shelters located in the city. If a temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter is established in violation of this chapter or if, after temporary use permit is issued for the same, the director of community development determines that the permit holder has violated this chapter or any condition of the permit, the temporary outdoor encampment and/or the extreme weather shelter, and its sponsor and managing agency, shall be subject to code enforcement and all activities associated with the temporary outdoor encampment and/or extreme weather shelter shall cease, and the site shall be vacated and restored to its pre-encampment or pre-shelter conditions. (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2731 § 1, 2008)

21.74.020 Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this chapter:

A. “Temporary outdoor encampment” means a short-term (up to six months per calendar year) residence facility for a group of people that is composed of tents or other temporary structures on a site provided or arranged for by a sponsor with services provided by a sponsor and supervised by a managing agency.

B. “Extreme weather shelter” means a facility intended to house homeless persons for specific intermittent situations such as cold or hot weather. The shelter would be in operation for the duration of the period that the extreme weather situation persists. Indoor homeless housing intended for longer-term use will be subject to all standard zoning, building and safety codes contained in the Lynnwood Municipal Code.

C. “Indigent housing” means housing defined under WAC 51-16-030. Indigent housing is allowed some exemptions from standard building and fire codes as explained later in this chapter. Both temporary outdoor encampments and extreme weather shelters meet the definition of indigent housing.

D. “Managing agency” means an organization identified as the manager of a temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter that has the capacity to organize and manage such a facility. A “managing agency” may be the same entity as the sponsor.

E. “Sponsor” means a religious congregation or an organization that is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as exempt from federal income taxes and has as its purpose provision of housing for the homeless or as a religious organization, that expresses its religious mission, in part, by organizing living accommodations for the homeless; and which owns the property on which the temporary housing will be located. The sponsor shall be responsible for insuring that the facility complies with the requirements of this chapter.

F. “Director” means the community development director or designee.

G. “Long-term and transitional housing for homeless persons” means indoor housing for individuals and families that is intended to provide a semipermanent or permanent residence. Such housing is subject to all provisions of the Lynnwood Municipal Code and shall not be granted any of the exemptions or flexibility offered in this chapter for temporary outdoor encampments or extreme weather shelters. (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2731 § 1, 2008)

21.74.030 Requirements.

A. Temporary Outdoor Encampments. The following requirements shall apply to all temporary outdoor encampments approved under this chapter, unless modified by the director through approval of a temporary use permit:

1. Outdoor encampments may be permitted on the grounds of any religious institution and shall be located a minimum of 20 feet from the property line of abutting properties containing commercial, industrial, professional office, and multifamily residential uses. The encampment shall be located a minimum of 40 feet from the property line of abutting properties containing single-family residential or public recreational uses, unless the director finds that a reduced buffer width will provide adequate separation between the encampment and adjoining uses, due to changes in elevation, landscaping, intervening buildings or other physical characteristics of the site of the encampment.

2. No outdoor encampment shall be located within a critical area or its buffer as defined by Chapter 17.10 LMC.

3. Outdoor encampments shall be subject to the following:

a. The outdoor encampment shall be provided with six-foot-tall sight-obscuring fencing that is lockable for security, unless the director determines that there is sufficient vegetation, topographic variation, or other site condition such that fencing would not be needed. The fencing shall not create a sight obstruction at the street, street intersections or curbs as determined by the city engineer.

b. The outdoor encampment shall have a minimum separation of six feet between structures including tents.

c. The outdoor encampment shall be provided with a serviced portable toilet unless provisions to use facilities in adjacent buildings are arranged.

d. The outdoor encampment shall be provided with a portable shower or bathing facility unless other arrangements acceptable to the city are provided.

e. Common cooking facilities shall be provided unless other arrangements acceptable to the city are provided.

f. Permanent power supply to the encampment is required although properly permitted and installed construction site type electrical boxes may be acceptable, as determined by the director.

g. If a structure is used instead of a tent, the structure shall have a door, at least one egress window, and a smoke detector.

h. Only wired electrical heating is allowed in housing units.

i. Exterior lighting must be directed downward and glare contained within the temporary outdoor encampment.

j. Tents over 300 square feet in size and canopies in excess of 400 square feet shall utilize flame retardant materials.

4. Duration. The temporary outdoor encampment is subject to a time limit of six months. However, the use may be granted automatic consecutive permits so long as it is maintained in a manner consistent with the requirements of this chapter.

B. Extreme Weather Shelters. Extreme weather shelters may be permitted in nonresidential zoning districts and in religious institutions in residential zoning districts. Shelters may be placed within existing buildings meeting current state and local life/safety codes for the extreme weather shelter. Shelters in buildings unable to meet current codes shall be permitted in accordance with the following standards:

1. The extreme weather shelter facility shall provide bathroom facilities sized for the demand.

2. Smoke and carbon dioxide alarms shall be provided in each room used for sleeping accommodations. At a minimum, battery powered units are acceptable, as determined by the director.

3. Sleeping areas must have at least two means of egress.

4. The sponsor shall insure that a “fire watch” of awake and capable adults is provided and trained in how to call in emergency services.

5. The sponsor or managing agency shall provide the city with information on what conditions will cause the shelter to open (i.e., weather extremes).

C. Requirements Applicable to Both Temporary Outdoor Encampments and Extreme Weather Shelters.

1. The maximum number of residents at a temporary outdoor encampment or at an extreme weather shelter shall be determined by the director taking into consideration site conditions, but in no instance shall the number be greater than 100 people.

2. On-site parking of the sponsor shall not be displaced unless sufficient required off-street parking remains available to compensate for the loss of on-site parking or unless a shared parking agreement is executed with adjacent properties.

3. A transportation plan that addresses how people arrive and depart from the facility shall be provided.

4. No children under 18 are allowed to stay overnight in temporary outdoor encampments or extreme weather shelters, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. If a child under the age of 18 without a parent or guardian present attempts to stay at the temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter, the sponsor and the managing agency shall immediately contact Child Protective Services and shall actively endeavor to find alternative shelter for the child.

5. The sponsor or managing agency shall provide and enforce a written code of conduct, which not only provides for the health, safety and welfare of the temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter resident, but also mitigates impacts to neighbors and the community. A copy of the code of conduct shall be submitted to the city at the time of application for the temporary use permit. Said code shall be incorporated into the conditions of approval.

6. The sponsor and the managing agency shall ensure compliance with Washington State laws and regulations, the Lynnwood Municipal Code, and Snohomish health district concerning, but not limited to, drinking water connections, solid waste disposal, human waste and electrical systems. The sponsor and the managing agency shall permit inspections by state and/or local agencies and/or departments to ensure such compliance and shall implement all directives resulting therefrom within the specified time period.

7. Public health guidelines on food donations and food handling and storage, including proper temperature control, shall be followed and residents involved in food donations and storages shall be made aware of these guidelines consistent with the Snohomish health district requirements.

8. The sponsor and/or the managing agency shall designate points of contact for the Lynnwood police department. At least one designated point of contact shall be accessible at all times. The names of the on-duty points of contact shall be posted on-site daily and their contact information shall be provided to the Lynnwood police department.

9. Facilities for proper trash disposal shall be provided on site throughout the encampment or outside an emergency weather shelter. A regular trash patrol in the immediate vicinity of the encampment or shelter site shall be provided.

10. The sponsor and/or the managing agency shall take all reasonable and legal steps to obtain verifiable identification from prospective residents. The managing agency of a temporary outdoor encampment shall use the identification to obtain sex offender and warrant checks from appropriate agencies. It is recognized that it is not possible to undertake background checks at extreme weather shelters that typically provide housing on a night by night basis only so long as the extreme weather persists.

11. The sponsor and/or the managing agency shall immediately contact the Lynnwood police department if someone is rejected or ejected from the temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter when the reason for rejection or ejection is an active warrant or a match on a sex offender check, or if, in the opinion of the on-duty point of contact or on-duty security staff, the rejected/ejected person could be a potential threat to the community.

12. The sponsor, the managing agency and temporary outdoor encampment residents shall cooperate with other providers of shelters and services for homeless persons within the city and shall make inquiry with these providers regarding the availability of existing resources.

13. The sponsor and/or managing agency shall provide before-encampment photos of the host site with the application. Upon vacation of the temporary outdoor encampment, all temporary structures and debris shall be removed from the host site within one calendar week. (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2731 § 1, 2008)

21.74.050 Permit required.

Establishment of a temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter shall require approval of a temporary use permit, as described in this chapter, and compliance with all other applicable city regulations. The director shall have authority to grant, grant with conditions or deny an application for a temporary use permit under this chapter. (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2731 § 1, 2008)

21.74.060 Application.

Application for a temporary use permit shall be made on forms prescribed by the city, and shall be accompanied by the following information; provided, that the community development director may waive any of these items, pursuant to LMC 1.35.015(A), upon request by the applicant and finding that the item is not necessary to analyze the application. An application to establish a temporary tent encampment or extreme weather shelter shall be signed by both the sponsor and the managing agency (“applicant”).

A. A site plan of the property, drawn to scale, showing existing natural features, existing and proposed grades, existing and proposed utility improvements, existing rights-of-way and improvements, and existing and proposed structures, tents and other improvements (including landscaping and fencing at the perimeter of the proposed encampment and the property and off-street parking);

B. A vicinity map, showing the location of the site in relation to nearby streets and properties;

C. A written summary of the proposal, responding to the standards and requirements of this chapter;

D. The written code of conduct and a transportation plan as required by this chapter;

E. Statement of actions that the applicant will take to obtain verifiable identification from all encampment residents and to use the identification to obtain sex offender and warrant checks from appropriate agencies;

F. Project statistics, including site area, building coverage, number and location of tents and temporary structures, expected and maximum number of residents, and duration of the encampment;

G. A legal description of the subject property, including parcel number;

H. Photographs of the site;

I. A list of other permits that are or may be required for development of the property (issued by the city or by other government agencies), insofar as they are known to the applicant;

J. Permits for temporary outdoor encampments and extreme weather shelters shall be processed by the city without charge; and

K. A list of any requirement under this chapter for which the applicant is asking to modify, as allowed under LMC 21.74.070(D). (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2731 § 1, 2008)

21.74.070 Decision and appeal.

A. Notice. Final action on permit applications made under this section shall be rendered within 45 days of submittal. Within seven calendar days of receiving a completed application the director shall publish a notice of application for a temporary use permit as provided herein. The notice shall contain, at a minimum, the date of application, project location, proposed duration and operation of the temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter, number of residents for the encampment or shelter, conditions that will likely be placed on the operation of the encampment or shelter, and requirements of the written code of conduct. The notice shall be distributed as follows:

1. A copy of the notice, or summary thereof, will be published in the official newspaper of the city.

2. A copy of the notice, or summary thereof, shall be posted at two publicly visible locations on the subject property.

3. A copy of the notice, or summary thereof, shall be mailed to owners of all property within 300 feet of any boundary of the subject property, and any neighborhood organization in the vicinity of the subject property whose contact information is known to or made known to the managing agency.

B. Decision and Notice of Decision. After conclusion of the 14-calendar-day notice/comment period the director shall decide whether to grant, grant with conditions or deny a temporary use permit. Before any temporary use permit may be granted, the applicant shall show that:

1. The proposed use will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity of the proposed encampment or shelter;

2. The proposed use shall meet the performance standards that are required in the zoning district the encampment or shelter will occupy and the requirements of this chapter;

3. The proposed use shall be in keeping with the goals and policies of the comprehensive plan; and

4. All measures have been taken to minimize the possible adverse impacts which the proposed encampment or shelter may have on the area in which it is located.

A notice of such decision stating whether the permit is granted or denied, along with information regarding the procedure for appeal of the decision, shall be mailed as required for the notice of application/hearing within three business days after the date of the decision. If issued, the permit for the temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter shall be issued jointly to the sponsor and managing agency and each shall be responsible for compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit and applicable city codes.

C. Conditions. Because each temporary indigent housing proposal has unique characteristics, including, but not limited to, size, duration, uses, number of occupants and composition, the director shall have the authority to impose conditions on the approval of a temporary use permit to ensure that the proposal meets the criteria for approval listed above. Conditions, if imposed, must be intended to minimize nuisance-generating features in matters of noise, waste, air quality, unsightliness, traffic, physical hazards and other similar matters that the temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter may have on the area in which it is located. In cases where the application for temporary use permit does not meet the provisions of this chapter (except when allowed under subsection (D) of this section) or adequate mitigation may not be feasible or possible, the director shall deny the application.

D. Modification of Requirements. The director may approve a temporary use permit for a temporary outdoor encampment or extreme weather shelter that relaxes one or more of the standards in this chapter only when, in addition to satisfying the decision criteria stated above, the applicant submits a description of the standard to be modified and demonstrates how the modification would result in a safe encampment or shelter with minimal negative impacts to the host community under the specific circumstances of the application. In considering whether the modification should be granted, the director shall first consider the effects on the health and safety of encampment or shelter residents and the neighboring communities. Modifications shall not be granted if their adverse impact on encampment or shelter residents and/or neighboring communities will be greater than those without modification. The burden of proof shall be on applicant.

E. Appeal. The director’s decision may be appealed to the hearing examiner under Process II (LMC 1.35.200 et seq.). (Ord. 3309 § 2 (Exh. A), 2018; Ord. 2731 § 1, 2008)