Longview cracks down on ‘unsightly’ city camping

Civic Affairs

A new ordinance makes camping illegal on city property from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — Longview city leaders voted Thursday to approve a new ban cracking down on a growing number of tent campers in front of City Hall.

Dozens of people filled Longview City Hall on Thursday. City leaders heard from people both supporting and opposing the ordinance to make camping and the storing of belongings illegal from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on city property.

City council members voted unanimously to approve the ordinance. Anyone who violates the new rules could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“We pay plenty of taxes to not have to be seen or exposed to this behavior,” Longview resident Bruce said at the meeting. “I encourage you to take the necessary action to move this unsightly mess away from here.”

Another resident said the ordinance would make it “practically illegal to be homeless.”

But others look at the tents and see their community.

“How could they move us, how could they do that to us again? How could they do this? I can’t walk around here freezing,” said Susan Sherman, a woman experiencing homelessness.

Longview city leaders meet with the public on a new ordinance cracking down on homeless camping, Nov. 21, 2019. (KOIN)

Those advocating for the homeless said the biggest problem is a lack of resources and shelters for them to utilize.

The city council will wait 30 days before enforcing the ordinance. Council members plan to use that time to address a number of concerns, including finding an alternate site as an option for the homeless.

“Ordinance is not perfect — [a] perfect model doesn’t exist,” said Longview City Manager Kurt Sacha. “We look at this as a starting point.”

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