In 2018, the City Council directed staff to plan for an update of the city's temporary encampment regulations (Land Use Code Chapter 20.30U) through a land use code amendment, after adoption of a code amendment concerning shelters and homeless services. In December 2019, the council approved amendments to Chapter 20.30U for temporary encampments.
Prior to the amendments, Chapter 20.30U was interpreted and applied alongside a federal consent decree (settlement agreement) between Bellevue and a number of faith-based organizations and tent city organizers. Updating the land use code was authorized in light of the anticipated expiration of the consent decree on Jan. 27, 2020.
The policy decision to allow temporary encampments on property controlled by religious organizations was made in 2005 as an accommodation of religious exercise. Religious organizations (such as churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) may be in both single-family and multifamily residential districts. Chapter 20.30U LUC establishes the requirements for religious organizations that wish to obtain a permit to host a temporary encampment on their property. The regulations were crafted to accommodate religious exercise, while protecting public health and safety through limitations on the number of temporary encampment residents, application and use requirements, provisions for sanitation, and limits on stay, duration and frequency.
Not unlawful public camping
This update to the temporary encampment regulations is not related to unlawful public camping, such as camping located illegally in city parks or right of way. Unlawful public camping is prohibited under BCC 10.06.110, which the council adopted in 2017, extending the prohibition of public camping to all city-owned property and public easements.
Timeline and Council briefings
The council considered changes to the land use code over the last quarter of 2019. The timeline included the following milestones.
- Draft code amendment based on City Council goals
- State Environmental Policy Act review
- Council review of draft code amendment and possible revisions
- Public hearing
- Adoption of code amendment
- East Bellevue Community Council approval for its area (Jan. 7, 2020)
Nov. 18 (public hearing)
Nov. 25, 2019
Dec. 9, 2019 (adoption)
Residents are encouraged to provide feedback at any time. Please email comments to TempEncampmentLUCA@bellevuewa.gov. Residents and interested stakeholders can also speak during oral communications at council meetings.