Yakima City Council to vote on ordinance aimed at regulating hom - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima City Council to vote on ordinance aimed at regulating homeless encampments

Posted: Updated:
Homeless Encampment (File) Homeless Encampment (File)

UDPATE: The ordinance passed unanimously 6-0 in favor of the ordinance, with Councilwoman Carmen Mendez absent.  

The rules will go into affect in 30 days making it illegal to camp in unauthorized public spaces in the city, illegal to leave items of any kind laying around on public property, and illegal to even set-up tents or housing on any piece of public space.

"To make us able to be able to move forward effectively as a governing body for the city and protect not only the homeowners in the neighborhood but also the people that were utilizing the campground, some that are chronically homeless and some that are in temporary situations," said Mayor Avina Gutiérrez.

Council agreed that adopting the ordinance is a step in the right direction to support local law enforcement.  

"If you're camping on city property without a permit, it is a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail or a fine," said Sara Watkins, Assistant City Attorney.

After the vote one community member spoke out saying that this ordinance criminalizes the homeless, but council explained that this is for the protection of everyone, to help get a better hold on regulating all camping on public property, not just homeless encampments.

Yakima, WA - Lately, there have been a lot of rules presented and decisions made in regards to the City of Yakima's homeless, the latest addition to the list, a new ordinance proposal that will make camping on public property illegal.

That means, no one will be allowed to set up tents, tarps, blankets, any kind of "camping" gear along sidewalks, alleys, or any public place not designated as an encampment by the city.

On July 5th, when council decided to move the homeless encampment on Chestnut to the parking lot across the street from the Yakima Police Station,  Senior Assistant City Attorney, Mark Kunkler, discussed the ongoing homeless encampment situation and the need for regulation.

Just a couple weeks later, City Council will be presented with the new ordinance making it unlawful to camp on public property, and at the meeting on July 19th, 2016, council will vote to either approve or deny the ordinance.

Officials with the City Attorney's office say, this ordinance is needed to help keep the city sanitary and safe for everyone.

To see full proposal, click here.