Spokane committee to discuss changes to city camping ordinance


Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward has called for major changes to the city’s camping ordinance that are stricter than a previous proposal from the City Council.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane’s Public Safety Committee will take up two competing proposals on Monday afternoon that seek to update Spokane’s camping rules.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced proposed changes last week to the city’s camping and sit and lie ordinances that will limit when and where people are allowed to camp on city property. It follows another proposal previously introduced by Spokane City Council.

The city’s camping ordinance has not been updated since 2018 and the sit and lie ordinance has not been updated since 2014.

Under Spokane’s current illegal camping ordinance, camping is not allowed on public property and a person cannot sit or lie on the sidewalk between 6 a.m. and midnight. However, the ordinance is also not enforced if there is no shelter space.

Both the city council and the mayor’s proposals call for removing the blanket exemption “when shelter space is unavailable.” Both also allow for enforcement at all times in some specified locations.

Both proposals would also enforce the camping ordinance in the following areas:

  • Within 100 feet of railroad viaducts
  • Within 35 feet of the Spokane River
  • All city parks and city-owned property

Both proposals also have no effect on people camping on private or state-owned land, meaning the people camping in the lot near I-90 would be exempt from both ordinances.

Woodward’s proposal, however, takes the ordinance a step further.

The mayor’s proposes changes would expand enforcement to within a half-mile of city-supported congregate shelters, as well as within the boundaries of the Business Improvement District and the downtown police precinct.

This is the Business Improvement District boundary map:

Under Woodward’s proposal, camping would be illegal in all colored zones on the map. That zone stretches from Cataldo Avenue to the railroad tracks near First Avenue and from Walnut to North Division. The downtown police precinct has a wider footprint.

Camping would be illegal in the orange-colored area, which stretches from the north bank of Riverfront Park to I-90, then from Sherman out to near Inland Empire Highway.

The City of Spokane’s Public Safety & Community Health Committee will discuss the two proposals at  1:15 p.m. on Monday.

WATCH MORE: Spokane attorney says proposed camping ordinance may not hold up in court

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