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Puyallup City Council unanimously passes halfway house ordinance, bans multiple sex offenders, violent felons from living in residential areas

Post by Kari Plog / The News Tribune on June 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm with No Comments »
June 18, 2013 8:49 pm

The Puyallup City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night that bans two or more sex offenders or violent felons from living together in residential areas in the city limits.

The first reading of the ordinance was back in February, and Tuesday’s vote builds on a recently signed state law that limits how many former inmates using state-issued rental vouchers can live together.

The action follows a 10-month emotionally charged public process that sparked the effort at the state level.

The city’s ordinance prohibits two or more offenders from living together in any residential zone within city limits. It also requires the property owner of a so-called “significant impact business” — specifically, shared housing, airports, fireworks plants or hazardous waste sites — to secure a permit. It would be subject to a public hearing to possibly impose additional conditions, such as insurance.

State Sen. Bruce Dammeier, the Puyallup Republican who sponsored the state law that grants cities more input on halfway houses, was in attendance prior to the vote. That new law prevents two or more former inmates who use state-issued rental vouchers from sharing an apartment unless they’re renting a unit on an approved list.

Also, the state Department of Corrections must notify local jurisdictions when properties inside local boundaries are added to that list, and local officials can request removal of housing providers.

Dammeier said he was glad to see Puyallup wasn’t “letting the moss grow” after the law was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last month.

Julie Door, a City Council candidate who was an active supporter of both the state law and the city’s ordinance, was overwhelmed with emotion at the meeting after months of pushing this issue forward.

“The staff, the community, the council has put so much time and effort into this ordinance,” Door said.

Steve Hastings, another City Council candidate and Planning Commission chair, echoed the gratitude.

“Our city has a big win today and I think it’s important our citizens understand that,” Hastings said.

The ordinance was a response to a plan last year by local property owner Larry Parson to open a shared living space for veterans near 23rd Avenue and Shaw Road — a venture he has acknowledged could attract newly released prisoners, including sex offenders.

After strong outcry from neighbors, the City Council imposed and later extended a moratorium on halfway houses that would be occupied by two or more sex offenders or violent felons. The moratorium was set to expire in August, which provided a temporary solution as the city explored the ordinance passed Tuesday.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
kari.plog@thenewstribune.com
@KariPlog

 

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