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Renton Council Considers Strict Shelter Regulations

Update: On, December 14th, 2020, the Renton City Council voted 5-2 to pass the ordinance.

On November 23rd, marking a new escalation in the controversy, an ordinance was presented to the Renton City Council which would limit future use of the DESC facility (now located at Red Lion), and place in strict measures to prevent future facilities from coming to Renton. During the public hearing there were several comments from nonprofits, minority-owned businesses, and residents supporting the facility. Only one comment spoke in favor of the draconian measures.

The opposition was a diverse coalition in both backgrounds and thought. Nonprofits representing social services, workers from the facility, even a hotel investor came to speak out against the 41 pages of proposed ordinance. An individual spoke on behalf of the owner of Red Lion, who felt that the city and community around him has turned him into a target over this issue. Some remarked questioning the emergency issue of the ordinance, considering it won’t take effect until June.

The ordinance tries to place a cap on the number of homeless to be sheltered for de-intensification to 100, less than half of the currently served. The number does not seem to not reflect any statistics on the local or regional unhoused populations. In addition it creates strong regulations on hotel usage, and prevents future shelters with several measures of red tape. One such example requiring a separate physical entrance and elevator system if the property is mixed-use.

Residents were clearly frustrated with the city over this proposal. The council liaison took the initiative near the end to mute a resident after they showed frustration with the mayor. The city will take comment on the matter until December 1st at 5pm.

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