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Bill Mills

DPD - Transitional Encampment Amendment All Zones

November 19, 2015

Transitional Encampment Interim Use Amendments All Zones,

All Property Owners
Council Request Per Ordinance 124747
The City Council asked the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to complete an
environmental review and threshold determination on potential amendments to Section
23.42.056 of the Land Use Code, to allow transitional encampments on any public or private
property in all zones within the City. This would add residential and NC1 (Neighborhood
Commercial 1) zones and non-City, publicly-owned properties where encampments are currently
not an allowed use. The amendments would maintain the existing regulations of Seattle
Municipal Code (SMC) Section 23.42.056. Specifically, authorized encampments would
continue to be limited to no more than three sites at any one time citywide and would also remain
subject to the existing regulations for location, operation, permit process, and health and safety
In summary, Ordinance 124747 directed DPD to:
Conduct environmental review on potential amendments allowing transitional
encampments as an interim use without restriction by zone or property ownership; and
Make a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) threshold determination, and attempt to
report back to the Planning Land Use and Sustainability Committee no later than August
31, 2015
The SEPA determination of non-significance was published August 27, 2015, and no appeal was
Council Guidance:
Based on Council guidance in a June 18, 2015 memo, the potential amendments would retain all
the requirements that currently exist with only the following changes:

Allow such encampments in all zones (add residential and NC1 zones), and all ownership
(add non-City public).
Since an encampment could be located on a residentially zoned lot under this proposal,
eliminate requirement for a 25 separation from a residential lot and apply a requirement
that the encampment portion of a site must be 25 from a residentially zoned lot.
Require visual screening if the encampment site is adjacent to a residentially zoned lot
that is developed with a residential use, unless the encampment is located 25 from the
adjacent lot line

Bill Mills
DPD - Transitional Encampment Amendment All Zones
November 19, 2015

Potential sites, as determined by the methodology described in the Analysis section of this report,
include the following (please see attached map):
About 1,500 additional properties in residential and NC1 zones may be eligible, including:
o 46 City-owned sites;
o About 280 non-City, publicly-owned sites; and
o About 1,180 private, vacant properties.
About 390 non-City publicly-owned, non-residential zones would also be added.
These are potential sites. The analysis selected vacant sites that are over 5,000 square feet in
size. However, a thorough site-by-site analysis has not been done to determine characteristics
such as appropriate access and location, proximity to transit stops, suitable configuration,
whether truly vacant, etc. Such an analysis would likely result in fewer eligible sites.

On March 30, 2015, the City Council passed Ordinance 124747, effective May 11, 2015.
Ordinance 124747 adopted new regulations in the Land Use Code, Section 23.42.056, to
authorize a transitional encampment interim use permit for a one-year term. The permit is a
Type I process that does not provide for formal public notice or appeal opportunities, and may
be renewable one time for an additional year, subject to certain criteria. After a maximum of two
years at any one site, an existing encampment must relocate to another site under a new interim
use permit. A minimum of 12 months must pass after a transitional encampment interim use
permit has expired before a new transitional encampment could be established at the same site.
Encampments are further subject to detailed management plans. Encampment operators,
approved by the Citys Human Services Department (HSD), are required to have past experience
managing and operating shelters, low-income housing, or encampments serving low-income,
homeless or indigent persons.
Existing regulations to be maintained include the following:
Require encampments to meet the same health, safety, and inspection requirements that
have been established for encampments on sites owned or controlled by religious
organizations as provided for in SMC Section 23.42.054;
Establish parking requirements for any vehicles used for shelter and for staff members of
encampments that are not located on sites owned or controlled by religious organizations;
Provide rulemaking authority to: require community outreach to give neighbors advance
notice of new encampments and relocation of existing encampments; require formation
of a Community Advisory Committee to provide advice on proposed encampment
operations; and require specific operational standards to be implemented by encampment
Require that the operator obtain and maintain liability insurance for use of City-owned
property prior to issuance of a permit; and

Bill Mills
DPD - Transitional Encampment Amendment All Zones
November 19, 2015

Require that the operator allow service providers, such as social workers, to access the
site when located on a City-owned property.

Existing regulations, also to be maintained, further provide that transitional encampment sites are
subject to the following requirements:
Be located on a site that is at least 5,000 square feet in area or larger and that provides a
minimum of 100 square feet of land per occupant;
Be located within one-half mile of a transit stop;
Be located at least one mile from any other legally-established transitional encampment
use, including encampments on property owned or controlled by a religious organization,
except that encampments on property owned or controlled by a religious organization or
any encampment of fewer than ten persons are not subject to the dispersion requirement;
Be located outside of wetland, wetland buffer, known or potential landslide area, steep
slope, steep slope buffer, and fish and wildlife habitat areas (which includes areas within
the Shoreline District as designated in Chapter 23.60A of the Land Use Code) governed
by the Citys regulations for Environmentally Critical Areas;
Not be used by an existing legally-permitted use for any Land Use Code or permitrequired purposes including but not limited to parking or setbacks; and
Not be an unopened public street right-of-way or designated as a park, playground,
viewpoint, or multi-use trail.
Encampments must also meet specific health, safety, and inspection requirements, including a
limit of 100 encampment occupants. These requirements are currently established in Sections
23.42.054.B and C.
In addition to the standards in the Code, encampment operators are required to enter into a
contractual arrangement with the hosting entity (private property owner, lessee, or the City)
similar to the hosting agreements that have been used between religious facilities and
encampment operators, that will address encampment rules for the purpose of promoting good
neighbor relations. Agreements between the religious facilities and encampment operators
include prohibitions on alcohol, drugs, and possession of weapons; rules for children within the
encampment; and prohibiting sex offenders within the encampment.

The potential amendments would broaden opportunities for siting encampment facilities in the
city, on an interim basis. At transitional encampments, people reside in temporary shelters like
tents, and specific rules for operation, management and security are established.
Identification of Potential Sites:
Research using the Citys Geocortex land use mapping system shows that the Councils
requested SEPA analysis of potential amendments would add about 1,500 potentially eligible
properties in residential and NC1 zones would be added to the existing parcels eligible for

Bill Mills
DPD - Transitional Encampment Amendment All Zones
November 19, 2015

encampments in the non-residential zones covered by the existing regulations. Of these, about
46 are City-owned sites, and about 280 are non-City publicly-owned sites within residential or
NC1 zones. Owners of these sites include King County, Sound Transit, Seattle Housing
Authority, the Port of Seattle, and similar public agencies and organizations. In addition, about
390 non-City, publicly-owned sites located in the existing allowed nonresidential zones would
also be added.
Allowing privately owned sites within residential and NC1 zones to host encampments would
add about 1,180 parcels that may qualify under the existing standards in Section 23.42.056.
These sites are not within critical areas and have an area of at least 5,000 square feet. They are
also mapped as vacant properties. This is in addition to the approximately 475 vacant, privately
owned sites in the non-residential zones.
Research Methodology:
The following methodology was used to determine which sites are potential encampment sites.
Geocortex allows access to King County property data for every parcel in the city. That data
includes a classification of existing use that shows whether the land is vacant, unused (may
contain a structure not in use) or in a particular use. . The Assessors vacant classification
includes parking lots, vacant land, and parcels used for outdoor storage. The parcel data also
includes square footage for each parcel and the zone in which the property is located.
Additional research may be performed in the future for parcels to determine if they could meet
other approval criteria in the current code and/or draft potential amendments. Each site can then
be reviewed using the County Assessor and City of Seattle property data to determine if the
property would meet the criteria identified in Section 23.42.056, including: sufficient area to
accommodate up to 100 persons; sufficiently level to accommodate tents or other shelters and
facilities; whether the property is within a half mile of a transit stop; whether the property has
sufficient area that is not within an environmentally critical area (steep slope, wetland, or similar
feature); and that the property is not designated as a park, playground, viewpoint or multi-use
trail. DPD permit records may also show whether there are any active existing uses on the
In addition, research involves a determination of whether an encampment on each property could
comply with the health and safety requirements of SMC Section 23.42.054.B, including access to
running water, access to garbage collection, suitable location for providing food and bathroom
services, and potential to provide parking for vehicles used as shelter or for workers who might
assist encampment residents.
Initial research focused on lots identified as vacant, and excluded sites that contain critical areas
or that are classified as a park, playground, viewpoint or multi-use trail. The analysis assumes
that public and private sites in active use will not generally have space to devote to
encampments. Each site would be subject to further evaluation using the standards required by
Section 23.42.056, as part of the permit process for transitional encampment interim use permits.
Since that evaluation will likely eliminate some sites that lack proximity to transit and that

Bill Mills
DPD - Transitional Encampment Amendment All Zones
November 19, 2015

cannot meet the one-mile dispersion requirement, the total number of useable sites will be
somewhat fewer than the raw totals cited above.

As directed by Ordinance 124747, the SEPA analysis of draft potential amendments would
expand the areas within the city where a transitional encampment may be located to include
residential zones and the Neighborhood Commercial 1 zone. This would also allow
encampments on public properties not owned by the City.
Potential additional sites include the following:
About 1,500 additional properties in residential and NC1 zones may be eligible, including:
o 46 City-owned;
o About 280 non-City, publicly-owned sites; and
o About 1,180 private, vacant properties.
About 390 non-City, publicly-owned sites in non-residential zones would also be added.