TACOMA, Wash. — Big changes could be coming to Tacoma's park system as the city looks to update its codes for the first time in a decade.
The changes consider things like drones, electric scooters, temporary structures and vaping. Rules regarding temporary structures could impact those living in the parks in tents.
Deputy Director Peter Mayer said after talking with users and police, staff worked to “clarify” existing code provisions and address new issues, according to the Metro Parks website.
The potential changes include limits on permissible “structures” in parks to those that are authorized, or temporary structures that only have a roof and no walls.
Homeless people currently living in some city parks say the proposed changes have them concerned because they have no place to go.
Longtime Hilltop resident Christian Morrison said he’s noticed the dramatic increase in tents at People’s Park.
“It's a thing where the garbage piles up and it's a public health hazard," he said. "There are no bathrooms here.”
Morrison says it seems the tents have started to take over the park.
"It's not changing and think about it and younger people raising a family and they can't bring them in this situation. It's not comfortable at all,” he said.
Metro Parks is gathering public feedback on the proposed changes and those who are living in the park say they have a lot they would like to tell them.
“Help us, don't hurt us. We're not cattle,” one resident said.
Khalihla Shaw and her husband both say they don't want to live the park but illness and financial problems put them there. They say nobody from the city or the parks department has offered them any services.
"They make these rules and regulations and they don't make no sense and then you turn the water on us at 3 a.m.,” Shaw explained.
They hope Metro Parks will bring in social services to help the people at the park before they make any rule changes.
The public comment period on all the possible changes this will continue into September then the parks board can decide what they will forward to the city council.