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New proposal revisits camping ban on public property in Tacoma

As of July, there are more than 4,000 people experiencing homelessness in Pierce County, leaving officials looking for solutions.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma City Council discussed a proposal Tuesday to prohibit camping and storing personal belongings on public property within 10 blocks of temporary shelters in the city.

The city planned to consider a ban on camping on public property last year, but the proposal was nixed out of concern for the number of people with personal property on public lands.

As of July, there are more than 4,000 people experiencing homelessness in Pierce County, leaving officials looking for solutions.

While not all unhoused people camp near shelters, Tacoma City Councilmember John Hines, who introduced the proposed ordinance, said in a press release the proposal was a response to "a sharp uptick in public health and safety concerns received from community members regarding these specific areas."

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There are currently six temporary shelters and another nearing completion at 35th and Pacific Avenue. Hines said the city needs more and calls this new proposal a "starting point for broader conversations."

Hines pointed to examples showing the decline in emergency calls from neighborhoods that have had an encampment cleaned.

He acknowledged there is not enough shelter. In the proposal, Hines said the city needs to set an example that shelters are safe. That way the city can partner with other neighborhoods to expand shelter options.

If the proposal goes through, violators could face misdemeanor charges.

Tacoma City Council is expected the discuss the ordinance next week. Two readings will need to take place before council members can vote on the ordinance. 

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