Transitional Encampments

In February the City Council will consider Mayor Murray’s proposed legislation that would allow up to three transitional encampments for homeless individuals on non-residential City or private property if certain conditions are met. This legislation helps carry out key recommendations from the Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness. The legislation is part of a three-pronged approach the City is pursing to address homelessness and affordable housing in the City:

  • Quickly implement solutions for homeless individuals based on recommendations from the Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness
  • Align investments in homelessness services and interventions with national best practices based on recommendations from a report due in March from the Human Services Department (HSD)
  • Create more permanent affordable housing options across the income spectrum, including affordable housing for homeless and formerly homeless people, based on recommendations due in May from the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee

The proposed legislation would:

  • Provide more capacity to shelter homeless people while they transition into more stable housing
  • Provide consistency and predictability for neighbors as well as encampment hosts and operators
  • Apply standards to promote health and safety standards
  • Require notice to neighbors and an ongoing Advisory Committee to promote good relations

The City Council will consider and vote on the encampment legislation early 2015.

The proposal would carry out solutions for homeless individuals based on recommendations from the Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness, which met in the winter of 2014.

There will be opportunity for comment during City Council meetings as they deliberate over the Mayor’s proposal. Council review will include several steps such as a public hearing to take public comments. The City Council’s Planning, Land Use & Sustainability Committee will hold a public hearing to take comments on the proposal on February 26, 2015 starting at 5:30 p.m. The hearing will be held in Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue.

Additional information about the public hearing is available at this link:

Project Documents

DPD Director’s Report
Proposed Ordinance (Council Bill 118310)


This legislation responds to the Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness’ key recommendations. This legislation:

  • Provides a new transitional encampment interim-use permit for a one-year term. The permit, a Type I Master Use Permit, would not be renewable. However, an existing encampment would be allowed to relocate to another site under a new one-year interim use permit.
  • Allows up to three of these encampments, limited to 100 people per site, to operate at any one time in the Industrial, Downtown, Seattle Mixed, Commercial 2 (C2), Commercial 1 (C1), Neighborhood Commercial 3 (NC3), and Neighborhood Commercial 2 (NC2) zones. The encampments would not be allowed in zones defined as residential or in special review or historic districts. Encampments would also not be allowed in an unopened public street right-of-way or designated as a park, playground, viewpoint, or multi-use trail.
  • Requires a minimum of 12 months after a transitional encampment interim use permit has expired before a new transitional encampment could be established at the same site.
  • Requires locating an encampment on property owned by the City of Seattle or a private party with a management plan that provides human services to encampment occupants, site management and maintenance, and security. The plan must include a process for referrals to service providers that are able to assist individuals under 18 who arrive at an encampment unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • Requires encampment operators to have past experience managing and operating shelters, low-income housing, or encampments serving low-income, homeless, or indigent persons.
  • Requires encampments to meet the same health, safety, and inspection requirements that have been established for encampments on sites owned or controlled by religious organizations as provided for in Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.42.054.
  • Requires that encampments meet standards including that they be located at least 25 feet from any residentially-zoned lot; encampments may be located less than 25 feet from any residentially-zoned lot if the encampment boundary maintains a 25-foot setback and is screened by vegetation or fencing.
  • Establishes parking requirements for any vehicles used for shelter and for staff members of encampments that are not located on sites owned or controlled by religious organizations.
  • Provides rulemaking authority to: require community outreach to give neighbors advance notice of encampments and the relocation of existing encampments; require the formation of a Community Advisory Committee to provide advisory input on proposed encampment operations; and require specific operational standards to be implemented by encampment operators.
  • Requires that the operator obtain and maintain liability insurance for use of City-owned property prior to issuance of a permit.
  • Requires that the operator allow service providers, such as social workers, to access the site when a City-owned property.


February 3
The City Council’s Planning Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee will hold a briefing at the regularly scheduled meeting, which starts at 2:00 p.m.

February 26
The PLUS Committee will hold a public hearing starting at 5:30 p.m. Information about the public hearing is available at

PLUS discussion, Committee vote, and Full City Council vote (dates to be determined)

More Information

For information about the proposed ordinance:
Bill Mills, DPD Senior Planner
(206) 684-8738

For information about human services:
Sola Plumacher, Human Services Department
(206) 733-9404