King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Tuesday introduced an ordinance that would require King County to notify the public before purchasing a hotel for use as a homeless shelter, supported housing, or similar housing option.
“It is not good government for King County to make hugely impactful land use decisions by siting large homeless shelters without first providing full transparency to the public. The impacted communities, including residents and the municipal governments that represent them must all have a chance to provide public comment in advance of the decision being unilaterally made by King County,” Dunn said via written statement. “My legislation provides a simple fix to that problem by putting it in King County code that the government must notify the public before siting a shelter in their community.”
Dunn’s legislation would provide the opportunity for public comment in advance of all such purchases by requiring a public notice to be circulated in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the purchase takes place in order to inform the impacted community of the location of the property; the purpose for which King County intends to use it; the funding source proposed the purchase it; information on how the public may provide comment; and the name and phone number of the King County person of contact.
Since May of this year, King County has purchased nine hotels across King County to use as housing for the chronically homeless, including sites in Auburn, Federal Way, Seattle, Redmond, and Renton, and plans to purchase three more hotels by the end of the year.
Many of these hotels, like those purchased in Redmond and Federal Way, were the topic of controversy as residents felt they were not allowed input before the county purchased these properties to serve as supportive shelters for the chronically homeless in their communities.
The ordinance will be referred to the Committee of the Whole.