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Yakima City Council appropriates funds for no camping ordinance

Yakima City Council proposed a plan Tuesday that would help the city enforce its no-camping ordinance. The ordinance does not allow enclosed tents on public property, such as parks and sidewalks.

The Council approved a proposal to increase the commercial waste utility tax rate from 16 to 25 percent, which would generate about $390,000 in revenue per year for the Clean City Program. The Clean City Program enhances code enforcement, some law enforcement elements and public works support to address the no-camping ordinance. 

According to Randy Beehler, with the City of Yakima, "The idea is to go to these camps and say to the folks that are there, one you can't be here, two there's a place for you to go — Camp Hope, Union Gospel Mission, there are services we can connect you with."

The funds would allow the city to hire two code enforcement officers and help the city's homeless task force point homeless people camping on public property in the direction of resources. It would also allow the city to contract with local organizations, such as Neighborhood Health, Camp Hope and the Union Gospel Mission to increase their efforts in trying to get homeless people connected to services and housing. 

"What we really want to do in all of the areas that the city works in, wether it's code enforcement, law enforcement, we don't want to penalize people," said Beehler. "What we want is compliance."

The Council is expected to present the plan in its next meeting, and once the Council formally adopts the change in the ordinance, it will take effect 30 days later. 

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