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City planning parameters on transitional housing

What’s happening…

During the 2021 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature passed a law requiring all cities across our state to permit subsidized transitional and permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. Clyde Hill is not exempt from the law. Due to this new law, Clyde Hill cannot ban transitional and permanent housing options in residential dwelling units or hotel zones. Our city is working on an ordinance to provide parameters for any housing facilities now permitted by the law. 

What is transitional housing…

Transitional housing programs are supportive housing programs that are temporary but designed to be an intermediate step between emergency shelter and permanent housing. Transitional housing provides temporary housing with supportive services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness with the goal of interim stability and support to move to and maintain permanent housing successfully. It is possible that residents of transitional housing can be sex offenders, recovering drug addicts, or violent offenders.

The latest in our city’s planning…

Our city’s Planning Commission and City Council are weighing – among other provisions of the law – the topic of “transitional housing.” Particularly, local leaders are determining how Clyde Hill will implement the law while, in the City Council’s words, “protecting the safety, integrity, values, character, and aesthetic of the Clyde Hill community.” Despite the law’s limitations, our Planning Commission determined that our city could restrict the occupancy, intensity, and spacing of the transitional housing facilities. 

What’s been produced so far…

Initially, city administrators produced a proposal modeled after Medina’s ordinance. Due to problems pointed out by our city’s Planning Commission, the city staff and the city attorney went back to the drawing board and produced a draft based on the ordinance implemented by the City of Redmond.

While work is still in progress, the latest draft includes restrictions on land use like:

  • A half-mile spacing between facilities 
  • Maintenance of a 1,000-foot buffer from schools and parks 
  • A limitation on the maximum number of residents per facility 
  • Adequate on-site and limited on-street parking 
  • Prohibition of supervised/safer consumption sites (SCS), supervised/safer injection facilities (SIF), and supervised/safer injection services (SIS) 

It also includes minimum performance requirements like: 

  • 24/7 staffing 
  • Prohibition of residents who are sex offenders (unless the agency demonstrates through the occupational agreement that it has the experience needed to manage these persons) 

And code of conduct and safety requirements like:

  • Prohibition of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, weapons, threatening behavior (unless agreed otherwise in occupational agreement) 
  • Implementation of de-escalation methods and crisis management protocols

What you can do…

The Planning Commission is scheduled to meet again in April to further discuss the development of an ordinance for our city. The meeting will also be a public hearing, allowing our community to voice their concerns and perspectives. Residents can expect more changes to be made to the draft.

At some point in the future, the city council should be adopting a new ordinance to address transitional housing. At that time, they will be holding a public hearing where you should make your voice heard. But, you have a chance to impact the new law before the public hearing by emailing your City Council, which you can do by clicking here.

We hope our city leaders will listen to residents and act accordingly. 

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