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North Bend considers a ban on camping in parks, homeless sites

A new ordinance, making camping on city property a fineable offense, is on the agenda for the North Bend City Council's consideration Tuesday, Jan. 15.

The ordinance, enacting the new Chapter 9.60 of North Bend Municipal Code, cites threats to public health and safety from campsites in public parks as a reason for its creation. It also specifically refers to encampments established by homeless people as contributing to those threats.

According to the proposed ordinance, camping on any publicly owned land will be an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $100. The definition of camping will cover storing personal items and using a vehicle as a residence, as well as sleeping in public places. As proposed, the ordinance will not apply to people sleeping in public places during the day, provided they have not erected some type of structure, nor will it apply to activities authorized with a special events permit.

Public places will include parks, sidewalks, streets, alleys, lanes, rights-of-way, and underneath bridges and viaducts. Park hours are dawn to dusk, and violators found in the park outside of those times can be charged with a misdemeanor offense.

If approved, the new ordinance would take effect Jan. 28.

North Bend's City Council has discussed issues with a local homeless population several times in the past year.

An independent citizens group began meeting in November, and opened the Snoqualmie Valley Winter Shelter on Dec. 22. The emergency shelter, hosted by the North Bend Community Church, opens to guests from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. nightly, and closes by 8 a.m., and will operate through March 7. For more information, visit http://www.snovalleywintershelter.com, or find them on Facebook.

 

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