36.01.280  <<  36.01.290 >>   36.01.300

Temporary encampments for the homelessHosting by religious organizations authorizedProhibitions on local actions.

*** CHANGE IN 2020 *** (SEE 1754-S.SL) ***
(1) A religious organization may host temporary encampments for the homeless on property owned or controlled by the religious organization whether within buildings located on the property or elsewhere on the property outside of buildings.
(2) A county may not enact an ordinance or regulation or take any other action that:
(a) Imposes conditions other than those necessary to protect public health and safety and that do not substantially burden the decisions or actions of a religious organization regarding the location of housing or shelter for homeless persons on property owned by the religious organization;
(b) Requires a religious organization to obtain insurance pertaining to the liability of a municipality with respect to homeless persons housed on property owned by a religious organization or otherwise requires the religious organization to indemnify the municipality against such liability; or
(c) Imposes permit fees in excess of the actual costs associated with the review and approval of the required permit applications.
(3) For the purposes of this section, "religious organization" means the federally protected practice of a recognized religious assembly, school, or institution that owns or controls real property.
(4) An appointed or elected public official, public employee, or public agency as defined in RCW 4.24.470 is immune from civil liability for (a) damages arising from the permitting decisions for a temporary encampment for the homeless as provided in this section and (b) any conduct or unlawful activity that may occur as a result of the temporary encampment for the homeless as provided in this section.


Findings2010 c 175: "The legislature finds that there are many homeless persons in our state that are in need of shelter and other services that are not being provided by the state and local governments. The legislature also finds that in many communities, religious organizations play an important role in providing needed services to the homeless, including the provision of shelter upon property owned by the religious organization. By providing such shelter, the religious institutions in our communities perform a valuable public service that, for many, offers a temporary, stop-gap solution to the larger social problem of increasing numbers of homeless persons.
This act provides guidance to cities and counties in regulating homeless encampments within the community, but still leaves those entities with broad discretion to protect the health and safety of its citizens. It is the hope of this legislature that local governments and religious organizations can work together and utilize dispute resolution processes without the need for litigation." [ 2010 c 175 § 1.]
IntentConstruction2010 c 175: "Nothing in this act is intended to change applicable law or be interpreted to prohibit a county, city, town, or code city from applying zoning and land use regulations allowable under established law to real property owned by a religious organization, regardless of whether the property owned by the religious organization is used to provide shelter or housing to homeless persons." [ 2010 c 175 § 5.]
Prior consent decrees and negotiated settlements for temporary encampments for the homeless not superseded2010 c 175: "Nothing in this act supersedes a court ordered consent decree or other negotiated settlement between a public agency and religious organization entered into prior to July 1, 2010, for the purposes of establishing a temporary encampment for the homeless as provided in this act." [ 2010 c 175 § 6.]
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