Letter to the Editor: Serious concerns about the 'enhanced shelter'

Monday, October 19, 2020

To the Editor:

Many Shoreline citizens have serious concerns about the "enhanced shelter" the City is proposing for 165th and Aurora. We have secured legal counsel, and have formally submitted a letter to the City: https://www.shorelinewa.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=49760.

The City faces two big problems in its push for this "enhanced shelter": 1) the site is in an R-48 residential zone. Current zoning allows "homeless shelters", but only in commercial zones 2) the "homeless shelters" allowed by current zoning require more stringent safety restrictions than the proposed "enhanced shelter".

To push the shelter through, the City has proposed Ordinance 906, which creates interim zoning regulations allowing "enhanced shelters" in R-48 zones. Under this zoning, eight residential sites around Shoreline could house "enhanced shelters". The regulations could be reversed after 6 months, but any shelter authorized while the regulations were in effect would be vested, and could stay forever.

One of the issues our attorneys raise in their letter is that the City's proposal would create inconsistent development regulations. It's questionable whether shelters should be allowed at all in residential zones, but if they are, the rules should be more stringent, not less stringent, than in commercial zones, and Ordinance 906 would do the opposite, even allowing sex offenders in "enhanced shelters".

For the City to do this properly, they would have to: 1) rezone the area from residential to commercial 2) change the definition of "homeless shelter" to remove some of the current safety restrictions. This would require an extensive public review process.

Instead, they are trying to slip a new, more dangerous, type of shelter, into residential areas by adopting Ordinance 906. We believe they are engaging in rule bending, should stop immediately, and follow the rules scrupulously.

Vinay Venkatesh


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