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Burien City Council to vote on unlawful public camping ordinance

The ordinance is aimed to prevent people from setting up camp on any public street, sidewalk, or park in Burien.

BURIEN, Wash. — Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the Burien unlawful public camping ordinance is expected to be approved, but is on the consent agenda for the Sept. 25 city council meetings for a final vote. Deputy Mayor Schilling told KING 5 based on coucnil actions, there's no reason to think there are enough votes to remove the ordinance.

The City of Burien placed the unlawful public camping ordinance on its September 25 consent agenda. The ordinance, which would go into effect Nov. 1, was created to respond to the growing homelessness crisis Burien faces. 

Under the new ordinance, public camping will be prohibited from using nonresidential public property as a temporary or permanent dwelling, lodging residence, or living accommodation, outside of overnight hours. Exceptions will be made for places designated by the city.

Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling said violating the ordinance would be a misdemeanor, but would not lead to an arrest. 

"You're still allowed to be able to legally sleep in a tent overnight but we are just regulating the use of public space. We're timing it so you can sleep at night but not have permanent structures up," Deputy Mayor Schilling said. "The ultimate goal, first and foremost, is getting people off the streets and into shelters and services."

RELATED: Nonprofit clears homeless encampment in Burien, critics question where people will go

However, it takes money to house people experiencing homelessness. The deputy mayor wants state and federal leaders to step up their financial contributions to help smaller cities deal with homelessness.

"We're a small city with a small budget and a small staff. City governments don't run everything that needs to happen, that needs to be done. It's really up to larger governments with larger funding streams, bigger staff, and the ability to put programs in place," he said.

The unlawful public camping ordinance has been placed on the city's consent agenda for Monday, Sept. 25. There is no discussion planned. 

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