Spokane leaders planning to deal with tent city

Author: Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Jan 02 2013 04:39:25 PM PST   Updated On: Jan 02 2013 06:50:26 PM PST
Spokane tent city
SPOKANE, Wash. -

A transient tent city continues to grow in downtown Spokane and now the city is making plans to do something about it.

Department heads from code enforcement, the mayor's office and the police department met Wednesday to devise a plan on how to tackle the problem.

As more and more tents sprout up off Division and 4th Avenue, right near the busiest entrance to the city from the freeway, Rob Wright, who has been homeless for the last eight years, is gaining more new neighbors.

"There's just a lot newer people and a lot more people," Wright said. Wright has lived under the bridge for eight years and now he's concerned about the city's plans for their camp.

Spokane leaders met at City Hall Wednesday afternoon to start developing a standard procedure on how to deal with these camps, like, for example, how much time they'd give the person to leave, what kind of alternatives will be provided and when would they be ticketed were all questions asked during the meeting.

The city hopes to answer all those questions sooner than later as the tent city grows.

"Obviously, we've seen some tents go up under I-90, and those are not in a permitted shelter so we need to look at we're going to do going forward," city spokesperson Marlene Feist said.

Public safety is also a risk to allowing the tent city to continue. The city will also start analyzing its attempt to cut the human-waste problem. Three Honey Buckets were placed under the freeway and they're being used. Rob Wright said people are already abusing it.

"It's a good thing, but then again there's a lot of people that have other camps and stuff. They come in the first day the Honey Bucket is cleaned out and they'll [steal] the rolls of toilet paper and take them with them anyway," Wright said.

The city said their main priority with this is not physically removing people but finding social services for them. They hope to have answered those questions -- to form a consistent response -- by the end of this week.