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Tacoma bans camping within 10 blocks of temporary shelters
Stanislaus County will look to find housing for 100 homeless individuals throughout the county, focusing on those who are 65 and older and/or have underlying medical conditions (FRANKIE TOVAR/The Journal).

TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma City Council has banned camping on public property within 10 blocks of temporary shelters.

The vote Tuesday night makes camping and storing belongings within 10 blocks of a temporary shelter within Tacoma a misdemeanor offense.

Tacoma — along with other cities in Washington, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska — falls under the 9th District Court of Appeals ruling regarding how jurisdictions are allowed to handle homeless encampments.

It is the same ruling that guides Manteca’s dealings with the homeless.

Such an ordinance, if it were adopted in Manteca, would address the issue of the homeless already camping and storing items within the Manteca Industrial Park near the current temporary shelter at 555 Industrial Park Drive.

At the site of the proposed homeless navigation center on Carnegie Court it would also serve to allow stepped up enforcement in the neighborhood west of South Main Street as well as Manteca’s downtown.

The Tacoma ordinance makes public camping within the impacted areas a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a $250 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

The Tacoma ordinance also bans camping within 200 feet of protected waterways.

The City said in a release it will work to ensure that the "least restrictive voluntary enforcement methods possible" are used before people face penalties. The maximum punishment for violating the ordinance is a $250 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

It's estimated there are more than 4,300 homeless people in Pierce County that includes Tacoma. That’s  based on this summer's point-in-time count. The county doesn't have nightly shelter space available for 2,970 of those 4,300 individuals.

 The Tacoma ordinance asserts the 10-block buffer will "provide sufficient space and safety measures to ensure the protection of the community and those staying at these shelters against the adverse impacts of unsanctioned camping." 

 A Tacoma councilman who backed the ordinance said not clearly connects the idea that the city is addressing encampments in places where shelter is already offered. He also said the ordinance could help the city set up more shelters by addressing the concerns of neighbors who may be afraid encampments will pop up nearby.