WOODLAND — A small community like Woodland isn’t a superb vicinity to be homeless, city officers renowned. But even though the metropolis lacks services, those officials need to establish a few regulations.
Two drafted ordinances that recently got here earlier than the Woodland City Council could restrict while and wherein humans can camp inside the city and a crackdown on panhandling. Both ordinances have been pulled from the July 15 schedule and are predicted to return again at the council’s Aug. 19 meeting after getting a second look from the metropolis lawyer. Similar ordinances someplace else have run into criminal issues.
Vancouver attorney Moloy Good, who helped deliver a lawsuit in opposition to Clark County for throwing away homeless humans’ assets, unearths those forms of ordinances “problematic at a minimum.”
“I think at the cease of the day they don’t want homeless humans to be visible,” he stated.
Woodland Mayor Will Finn said the ordinances are intended no longer to kick humans out of Woodland or get them into felony trouble, but to factor them inside the path of assist.
“For a small metropolis like Woodland, we don’t have a whole lot of sources to be had. We don’t have the sources of a Vancouver or Longview,” he said.
Vancouver and Longview are the towns closest to Woodland with homeless shelters, which can soon component into the legality of camping in Woodland.
“I would suggest each person to take a bit step lower back and take a look at a number of the case regulation that already comes about earlier than growing an ordinance that criminalizes a simple human proper of sleep,” DeeAnna Holland, board president of Woodland Action Center, informed the city council on the July 15 meeting.
She informed the council there recently had been 111 humans in Woodland without permanent housing — dwelling in motors, tents, RVs without strolling water or couch surfing. Most of Woodland lies within Cowlitz County, wherein a January homeless census counted 468 homeless human beings which include 219 without any safe haven. Woodland has approximately 6, three hundred citizens, and about 2,000 humans from Clark and Cowlitz counties go to the meals financial institution at Woodland Action Center each month. The middle also operates a thrift shop, task resource room and offers out tents, tarps, napping luggage and socks from its emergency deliver room.
Holland is confused as to why the council is coming down on folks that camp within the metropolis due to the fact the emergency supply room became based with a $6,000 furnish from the metropolis a few years lower back. The room remains funded via diverse grants.
Regulating camping is a problem all around Western Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington despatched a letter in April to the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys thinking the constitutionality of panhandling and camping ordinances.
“Leaving unconstitutional ordinances at the book’s reasons tremendous harm, particularly when the ordinances trigger the criminal technique which includes arrest, conviction, and incarceration. Unconstitutional ordinances additionally danger complaints which are expensive to guard and risk incurring legal responsibility and attorneys’ charge,” the letter says.
In the famous Martin v. City of Boise case, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals observed the Idaho town’s anti-camping ordinance was unconstitutional as it criminally penalized homeless people for sitting, drowsing or lying outdoor on the public property whilst there has been no available refuge.
“Washington courts have also struck down anti-camping or anti-slumbering ordinances when you consider that they correctly deny homeless human beings the proper to engage in sports essential to human survival (shelter, sleep),” the letter says. “Cities and counties across the state have introduced suspensions of their anti-tenting ordinances in light of Martin.”
The letter also notes that “panhandling is constitutionally blanketed speech and regulations on it are situations to strict scrutiny.” It is going on to say that proscribing the time or places people can panhandle or restrictions purporting to restriction “coercion” are unconstitutional.
There is comparable language inside the July 15 draft of Woodland’s panhandling ordinance. It could modify and punish acts of “coercive and aggressive solicitation” that arise at locations which create “a more suitable sense of fear or intimidation” or “pose a danger to visitors and public safety.”
With the panhandling ordinance, Good, the Vancouver legal professional, sees the potential battle with different forms of coercive solicitation, together with people waving political signs and symptoms or even children advertising an automobile wash fundraiser.
“It seems like they did not genuinely suppose it through what the consequences would be,” he stated.
The tenting ordinance makes it unlawful to camp, occupy camp centers or use tenting equipment between 6:30 a.M. And 10 p.M. Woodland would join Vancouver and Washougal in adopting ordinances that dictate when and where human beings can camp. However, Woodland’s ordinance has a provision that the others do now not: It says law enforcement officers shall no longer enforce the prohibition “whilst there may be no available overnight refuge.”
Well stated this addition facilitates the ordinance tune with Martin v. City of Boise, however questions how they could decide shelter availability in a town that doesn’t have any.