City will order campers to vacate viaduct next week

Jesse Tinsley photo

A homeless man assembles a sandwich from a bag of food donated by a passing motorist, Thursday, Jan 3, 2013, under the freeway at Bernard and 4th St. in downtown Spokane.

January 3, 2013 12:33 p.m. - Updated: 4:26 p.m.

Spokane officials announced today that they soon will require homeless campers staying under the Interstate 90 viaduct downtown to vacate their tents.

But they said they will wait until next week to enforce the city’s ban on a camping on public property without a permit and will give campers 24 hours notice once they do.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said the Spokane Homeless Coalition’s Interagency Outreach Committee is reaching out to the campers, some of whom have refused assistance.

“They’re just trying to get a handle on if there are things they could do differently to make some of the folks out there more amenable to help,” Feist said.

Last month, Ralph “Doc” Harvey and his wife, Becky, applied for a permit to create a long-term tent large enough to fit 50 people, under I-90 off South Browne Street. The couple lived in a tent city for a time last year in western Washington.

Harvey’s proposal was not allowed by city law. The transient shelter ordinance allows a tent city to exist for just 14 days. Tent cities also are prohibited on land owned by the Department of Transportation, which owns the property under I-90.

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