This past weekend, residents near Oasis Home Church (map below) – located two blocks from Highline High School – received a notice of a Community Meeting by the Burien Community Support Coalition (BCSC) regarding “Sunnyvale Village,” a new, temporary sanctioned encampment planned at the church campus.
As we previously reported, the City’s illegal camping ban goes into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 1, and organizers are hoping to open the new encampment as soon as Monday, Nov. 6.
The community meeting was hosted at the church on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, and included an appearance by Burien City Councilmember Cydney Moore, who serves as President of the BCSC.
“With the ongoing shortage of available shelter in our city and across our region, and a ‘camping ban’ approved by the Burien City Council set to take effect November 1st that poses increased risk of harm to unhoused individuals, the opening of Sunnydale Village represents a significant step towards addressing this critical issue for some of our neighbors experiencing homelessness,” BCSC organizers said.
The BCSC said it plans to host the encampment at the church campus for 90 days, but the City of Burien was not aware of this proposal until we alerted them on Monday, Oct. 30.
“We have just learned of this effort today,” the City of Burien’s Communications and Public Engagement Manager Emily Inlow-Hood told The B-Town Blog Monday after we inquired about it.
But despite holding a public meeting as they claimed per RCW 35A.21.360 (“Hosting the homeless by religious organizations“), the City of Burien said that the law actually requires organizers to “provide written notice of the meeting to the code city legislative authority at least one week if possible but no later than 96 hours prior to the meeting.”
One neighbor told us he has security camera video showing someone taping the notice to his door on Friday, Oct. 27 at around 1:30 p.m. – less than 48 hours in advance of Sunday’s Noon meeting.
Also, the city said that the church will have to get a Temporary Use Permit from the city.
“The project that Oasis Church is attempting to pursue will require a Temporary Use Permit,” City Manager Adolfo Bailon said in an email. “Please be aware that the City may not be able to issue a Temporary Use Permit for this project until such a time when Oasis Church follows the appropriate steps under RCW 35A.21.360.”
“Any work to establish an encampment of any kind in advance of complying with RCW 35A.21.360 may place the property at 520 S. 150th Street in violation of state law and city ordinances,” Bailon added.
The city also said that the organization was not in compliance with state law, because it did not alert the city in time to issue public notice of the meeting “through prescribed methods of communication”:
“The correct RCW states that a religious organization must perform the following: 1. Host a meeting open to the public, and 2. Provide written notice of the meeting to the code city legislative authority at least one week if possible but no later than 96 hours prior to the meeting in order to remain in compliance with state law. The City is then mandated by RCW 35A.21.360 to issue public notice of the meeting through prescribed methods of communication. I am sorry to share with you that the City of Burien and its legislative authority has not received any notice of your intent to pursue a project at Oasis Church.“
UPDATE 6:45 p.m. Oct. 31, 2023:
Below is new information we received from a press release sent by BCSC:
“The Burien Community Support Coalition is pleased to announce the opening of Sunnydale Village, a safe, sanctioned, temporary space for unhoused individuals in Burien to reside.
“With the ongoing shortage of available shelter in our city and across our region, and a “camping ban” approved by the Burien City Council set to take effect November 1st that poses increased risk of harm to unhoused individuals, the opening of Sunnydale Village represents a significant step towards addressing this critical issue for some of our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
“Sunnydale Village will operate as a sanctioned encampment. There is a significant distinction between a sanctioned encampment and unsanctioned encampments. While unsanctioned encampments operate without official approval, and notably without regulations, oversight, or the most basic resources such as sanitation services, sanctioned encampments operate with formal approval. Staff at Sunnydale Village will maintain strict oversight of the encampment, including enforcement of a Code of Conduct all residents will be required to adhere to.
“A few key points about Sunnydale Village:
- “Security will be on-site 24 hours a day to provide oversight and enforce regulations.
- “Drug and alcohol use will be prohibited on site and in the surrounding neighborhood.
- “Nuisance behavior, including littering and loitering, will be prohibited on site and in the surrounding neighborhood.
- “All residents will be required to check in and out at the security desk when entering or leaving the village. Guests will not be allowed. Secure fencing will be maintained around the village.
- “Sanitation services will be maintained throughout the duration of the village, including providing access to toilet facilities and ensuring regular waste removal.
“Sunnydale Village, hosted by Oasis Home Church, is scheduled to open November 6th and will operate for 3 months. The Burien Community Support Coalition will oversee all operations of the village, and will work to connect all residents to respected service providers offering case management to unhoused individuals in our community.
“While we know Sunnydale Village will not be able to accommodate everyone living unhoused in Burien, we recognize the importance of working collaboratively with our community to do our part in addressing the dire need of our vulnerable populations. The urgency for taking action is enhanced by the coming of the cold weather season, during which our unhoused community is at increased risk. Hundreds of people die unhoused in King County every year, and several have died in Burien within recent years. We feel we have an obligation to do what we can to prevent these needless deaths, and minimize the harm to our neighbors in crisis.
“We urge our fellow community members to speak out about the need for safe spaces, shelter, housing, and services for the unhoused in our city – whether through advocacy to elected leaders, or in conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. We know that together, we can make a difference in how we face issues surrounding homelessness, and improve health and public safety for all.
“For more information about the Burien Community Support Coalition and Sunnydale Village, and how you can get involved, please visit Buriencsc.org. Donations of essential supplies including tents, blankets, warm clothing, and nonperishable food items are strongly encouraged.”
“About BCSC: Burien Community Support Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to addressing homelessness and creating positive change in the Burien community. Through direct mutual assistance and community partnerships, we strive to make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need.“
Here’s the full text of Bailon’s Oct. 30 email to Pastor Miller at Oasis Home Church:
“Hello Pastor Miller,
“I understand that you have decided to work with private citizens in Burien to establish a tent encampment on property owned by Oasis Church at 520 S. 150th Street. The information included in this email should help you to remain in compliance with state law and municipal ordinances that govern the type of project that you are pursuing at Oasis Church.
“The notice shared throughout the community that neighbors Oasis Church cites the wrong RCW (36.01.290(10)(a)). The correct RCW 35A.21.360 is below, for your review. The correct RCW states that a religious organization must perform the following: 1. Host a meeting open to the public, and 2. Provide written notice of the meeting to the code city legislative authority at least one week if possible but no later than 96 hours prior to the meeting in order to remain in compliance with state law. The City is then mandated by RCW 35A.21.360 to issue public notice of the meeting through prescribed methods of communication. I am sorry to share with you that the City of Burien and its legislative authority has not received any notice of your intent to pursue a project at Oasis Church.
“The project that Oasis Church is attempting to pursue will require a Temporary Use Permit. I have included in this message Jeff Watson, Interim Director of the City’s Community Development Department. Jeff and his team can assist you with applying for a Temporary Use Permit. Please be aware that the City may not be able to issue a Temporary Use Permit for this project until such a time when Oasis Church follows the appropriate steps under RCW 35A.21.360. Any work to establish an encampment of any kind in advance of complying with RCW 35A.21.360 may place the property at 520 S. 150th Street in violation of state law and city ordinances.
“My team and I look forward to your response and to working with you.
(10)(a) Prior to the opening of an outdoor encampment, indoor overnight shelter, temporary small house on-site, or vehicle resident safe parking, a religious organization hosting the homeless on property owned or controlled by the religious organization must host a meeting open to the public for the purpose of providing a forum for discussion of related neighborhood concerns, unless the use is in response to a declared emergency. The religious organization must provide written notice of the meeting to the code city legislative authority at least one week if possible but no later than ninety-six hours prior to the meeting. The notice must specify the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
(b) A code city must provide community notice of the meeting described in (a) of this subsection by taking at least two of the following actions at any time prior to the time of the meeting:
(i) Delivering to each local newspaper of general circulation and local radio or television station that has on file with the governing body a written request to be notified of special meetings;
(ii) Posting on the code city’s website. A code city is not required to post a special meeting notice on its website if it: (A) Does not have a website; (B) employs fewer than ten full-time equivalent employees; or (C) does not employ personnel whose duty, as defined by a job description or existing contract, is to maintain or update the website;
(iii) Prominently displaying, on signage at least two feet in height and two feet in width, one or more meeting notices that can be placed on or adjacent to the main arterials in proximity to the location of the meeting; or
(iv) Prominently displaying the notice at the meeting site.
“I would like to also include we have already seen the rates of violence these encampments bring,” said neighbor Thailer Lieu. “They also did not notify public authorities. So not sure how the plan actually keeps us safe. They danced around questions about safety saying the same thing ‘Someone will be on guard.'”
Some highlights from some who attended the meeting:
- The encampment will be there for 90 days with a hard stop at that point. The Pastor indicated that it will not last longer than that.
- The Coalition will be doing intake services to know who is coming in and what their needs may be. Moore indicated that Registered Sex Offenders will not be allowed in.
- All residents of the encampment must sign and abide by the code of conduct.
- They will have the capacity for 30 tents, which means there could be close to 60 people or more, but 30 tents are the limit.
- Open flames will not be allowed.
- The encampment quiet hours will be from 9:00pm to 9:00am
- Drug use will be prohibited in the camp.
- Disruptive and Illegal behavior will be prohibited meaning anyone engaging in said behavior will be removed from the encampment.
- The Burien Community Support Coalition will be providing security which means the staff will be trained on that.
- There may be pets in the camp, but they must be leashed at all times.
- Violence will not be tolerated.
Below is full text of the Coalition’s announcement letter left at neighboring houses:
NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING
“We are pleased to inform you, per requirements listed in RCW 36.01.290(10)(a), that Oasis Home Church (520 S. 150th St., Burien, WA 98148) will be hosting a community meeting open to the public on Sunday, October 29th at 12pm to discuss plans to open a temporary sanctioned encampment, operated by the Burien Community Support Coalition, on Oasis Home Church Property.
“Under the United States Constitution, temporary encampments for homeless individuals are allowed at Religious Institutions, as articulated in the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. Washington State Law (RCW 36.01.290) mirrors the Federal Law’s recognition of the authority of Religious Institutions to shelter poor and homeless people.
“The Burien Community Support Coalition is committed to operating as a good neighbor, and will strictly enforce a code of conduct that prohibits weapons, violence, drug or alcohol use, and other illegal activity at or around the camp, and prohibits loitering, littering, and panhandling in the surrounding neighborhood. Security will provide oversight of the camp 24 hours a day, proper sanitation will be maintained, and public health and safety guidelines will be adhered to.
“More than 6,000 people are sleeping unsheltered outside in King County, and there are not enough units of affordable housing available to meet the need in our community. As our region struggles with the humanitarian crisis of homelessness and a housing shortage, we are eager to play a part in providing safety and stability for our vulnerable neighbors in this city.
“We welcome any questions or feedback you may have. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Burien Community Support Coalition
Nearby residents are teaming up to try and stop the encampment from moving forward – below is a flier they released on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023:
COMMUNITY ALERT: SAY NO TO HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!
“We urge you to contact the Burien City Council and voice your opposition to the presence of homeless encampments in our neighborhood.
“Starting 11/01/2023 Homeless Encampment will open at Oasis Church (520 S 150th St, Burien, WA 98148). This is not funded or managed directly by Burien. Instead, it’s organized by a non-profit group led by Council Member Cydney Moore and former Planning Commissioner Charles Schaefer. They have been advocating for this encampment in Burien throughout the year.
“Unfortunately, their approach doesn’t take into consideration the well-being of our community, our students, our schools, and our young children. We believe it’s vital to address these concerns.
“We encourage you to get in touch with the Burien City Council and express your worries about the impact of this encampment on our neighborhood. Your voice matters, and together, we can work towards the best solution for our community.
“The Public Council Email [email protected].
About the Burien Community Support Coalition
This is a Burien-based non-profit corporation that was registered on June 7, 2023.
“BCSC was founded in 2023 in response to a growing local housing and humanitarian crisis. Our immediate goal is to improve the living conditions of our unhoused neighbors by providing a working camp with basic amenities,” according to its website.
Members of its Board of Directors include Cydney Moore, Charles Schaefer, Daniel Reed Martin and Lena Pace.
Major funding comes from Burien resident John White, who donated $10,000 to the org and another $5,000 to a non-profit consultant to help set it up.