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Tent city heads to backup site
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tent City 4 will move to a backup site near Woodinville today instead of to a Bothell church parking lot as originally planned.
The roving encampment of about 60 homeless people and the church decided to reject a city permit approved late Friday because of the more than 20 conditions attached.
"The conditions in the permit were just too onerous for us to move there at this time," said Bruce Thomas, Tent City 4's resident camp adviser. "All the things added together was just too much."
The conditions include various parking, layout, public-health and landscaping regulations.
Thomas said the encampment has never received a permit with so many conditions.
"They didn't want a bunch of homeless people living in the city," he said.
The encampment had hoped to move today to First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bothell from its current location at Northshore United Church of Christ in Woodinville.
Instead, Tent City 4 will move to the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church in unincorporated King County. The church hosted the camp in August 2005. It issued an open invitation several months ago and received a permit from the county Friday, said James Kimbrough, a church member.
The Bothell permit is the first issued under the city's new transitory accommodations ordinance adopted last December in response to Tent City 4's first conflict-ridden stay in Bothell two years ago.
Joyce Goedeke, city of Bothell public information officer, said the city went through an extensive process to abide by the new regulations.
One condition that the encampment strongly disagreed with was a requirement to conduct warrant checks on all residents through Bothell Communications Center or another law-enforcement agency.
Although Tent City 4 already conducts warrant checks through the King County Sheriff's Office voluntarily, Thomas said it's a violation of residents' privacy for the city to require the checks.
"We will not do that, period," he said.
Sgt. John Urquhart, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff's Office, said it's normal protocol for a city's police department to check for warrants if Tent City 4 is in the city.
The issue of warrant checks has come up before when the encampment stayed in Bothell in 2004.
A King County Superior Court judge ruled in a lawsuit the city of Bothell filed against St. Brendan Catholic Church in May of that year that Tent City 4 residents could not be required to present verifiable identification for warrant or sex-offender checks. But the ruling also stated that the city had the right to require permits and impose conditions.
Anne Kim: 206-464-2591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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