Sponsor of the motion to establish guidelines for the removal of encampments, Councilmember Reagan Dunn (courtesy of King County Council)

Sponsor of the motion to establish guidelines for the removal of encampments, Councilmember Reagan Dunn (courtesy of King County Council)

King County Council discusses policy for removal of homeless encampments

Still unclear what the standards will be, who will enforce it, and how jurisdictions will interact.

The King County Council is discussing a motion to establish standards for the removal of homeless encampments on public property in the county.

Councilmember Reagan Dunn sponsored the motion, noting the number of homeless encampments in unincorporated areas of King County. The county does not currently have rules for removing homeless encampments, according to council staff.

Some cities, like Auburn, have adopted ordinances to prohibit public camping, but residents from around the county feel like their local governments are not doing enough to remove the encampments that neighbor their homes, businesses and parks.

Dunn’s motion seeks to have a number of factors considered when determining whether it is appropriate to remove an encampment or not, with safety being the number one priority.

The motion emphasizes the consideration of sanitation quality and risk of exposure to infections such as hepatitis, the risk of fire, the prevalence of crime and whether or not vandalism is occurring at the site of the encampment. Additionally whether or not the encampment is impeding public operations will be taken into account as well.

He also said that the availability of local shelter should be taken into consideration when determining if it would be appropriate to clear the site of the camp if no alternative housing resources were available.

He described it as a “balanced, yet assertive” approach to the issue. Removals would need to be “urgent” before they could be conducted.

Dunn said the motion comes following the county’s acquisition of supportive housing facilities in Auburn, Redmond, and Renton as a part of the Health Through Housing initiative.

“In all, King County has spent nearly $1 billion on services for those experiencing homelessness since 2015, and it is not unreasonable to begin moving this population into County shelters and housing options that taxpayers have funded,” Dunn said via press release statement.

The motion also asks for the development of procedures of the removals of encampments. The motion currently contains measures to allow for public notice and comment before conducting a removal, but it is still unclear which agencies will be directly involved in the removal.

King County Councilmember, Girmay Zahilay, raised questions regarding what the “enforcement mechanism” of the removal would be, or if peace officers would be present. He raised questions about what would occur if people resisted the removal of the encampment or the referral of housing services.

The motion does not specify who would be trained to conduct the removal of the encampment.

It is also unclear how the new state laws limiting the situations in which police can use force will impact how encampments could be removed.

Dunn added that he had heard of encampment removals being met with armed resistance in isolated cases, and emphasized that it was important to avoid these kinds of risks.

The King County Executive would be part of determining the guidelines and enforcement terms as part of the motion, according to council staff.

Councilmember Joe McDermott raised concerns that the motion would be an “overlap” of the responsibilities of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, a governing body established to respond to all the nuances of the region’s homelessness crisis.

The motion has only been discussed currently, but will appear again before the council in the coming weeks.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Co-owners Sarah Cassidy and Luke Woodward stand in front of The Grange (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Co-owners Sarah Cassidy and Luke Woodward stand in front of The Grange (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
How a King County restaurant and farm work together to make a true farm-to-table experience

The Grange prepares sustainably produced meals pulled from the soil of the Snoqualmie Valley.

NW Carpenters Union members strike in front of downtown Bellevue construction site (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Carpenters union strike interupts some prominent Eastside construction projects

Union representative says members are prepared to strike “as long as it takes.”

Map of proposed landfill expansion sites (screenshot from King County website)
Waste management expert knocks county’s plan to expand landfill

The waste management advocate said the decision to expand seems pre-determined despite assessment.

Participants in fundraiser previous event (courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter)
Walk To End Alzheimer’s returns to Eastside on Sept. 25

Alzheimer’s Association moves forward with plans for an in-person event.

file photo
State employees including first responders sue state over vaccine mandate

The lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 90 plaintiffs claims Inslee’s order is unconstitutional.

Masked spectators watch Mount Si’s Sept. 10 football game against Yelm High School. Photo Courtesy of Calder Productions.
Snoqualmie Valley schools deal with COVID cases, staffing shortages

Enrollment numbers rose as students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District successfully… Continue reading

North Bend City Council. 	Courtesy photo
North Bend limits restrictions on low-income housing

The North Bend City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Sept. 7 in… Continue reading

Cars lined up at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital on March 26, 2021, as people awaited their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as part of the hospital’s first mass vaccination event. File Photo contributed by Snoqualmie Valley Hospital.
Valley COVID case rates decrease, but remain high

COVID-19 case rates across the Snoqualmie Valley decreased in some areas over… Continue reading

Most Read