PROPOSED ZONING REGULATIONS FOR EMERGENCY SHELTERS
The City of Longview is going through a process to determine where emergency (homeless) shelters should be located in the City (e.g. what zoning districts, should there be buffers from some land uses such as schools). A temporary committee was appointed to develop a recommendation. That committee produced a draft proposal. On June 14, 2017, they submitted a recommended proposal to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission took an initial look at the proposal and then decided to hold a public hearing on it. The public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 2 in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall, 1525 Broadway Street, Longview. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. The City invites you to attend the public hearing and express your opinion. You can also submit comments in writing by email at email@example.com or by mail at Steve Langdon, P.O. Box 128, Longview, WA 98632. Written comments must be received by the 6:00 p.m. on the meeting date.
Currently, emergency shelters are allowed in the City’s General Commercial District and the Downtown Commerce District with no buffers required. However, the City has a moratorium on the siting of new emergency shelters until a revised zoning code is adopted.
Commercial Zoning Districts
Under the proposal, emergency shelters would be allowed in the City’s General Commercial and Office/Commercial districts upon receiving a special property use permit. Special Property Use permits are approved by the City’s Appeal Board of Adjustment that consists of five citizen volunteers. Before they can make a decision they are required to hold a public hearing. Neighbors are required to be notified of the public hearing.
In addition to restricting emergency shelters to two commercial districts, the proposal includes buffers from certain land uses. Under the proposal, emergency shelters cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or within 325 feet of a park that is 0.5 acres or larger in size, within 325 feet of a single-family residential district or within 1,000 feet of each other.
The proposal does not change the current definition for an emergency shelter which is:
19.09.223 Emergency shelter.
“Emergency shelter” means congregate facilities providing housing to shelter families and individuals offered on an emergency basis for a period not to exceed 90 days continuously. Shelters may offer meals, lodging and associated services on site, aimed at helping people move towards self-sufficiency.
The proposal also allows for small emergency shelters to locate in the R-4 Residential District upon receiving a special use permit. These small shelters are called in the proposal “Homeless shelter group homes.” The definition for these types of shelters follows:
Homeless shelter group home is a facility offering lodging and/or emergency shelter to homeless individuals or families for up to 90 days. These group homes are intended to provide residential facilities in a home-like non-prescribed drug and alcohol free environment with 24 hour supervision. The number of clients is limited to two per bedroom plus an additional two (e.g. a 3 bedroom facility could have up to 8 clients) with no more than 10 clients allowed in any one group home. These facilities shall be available to clients 24 hours a day.
These shelters are subject to same standards and approval criteria as shelters in the commercial district with some exceptions:
Good Neighbor Agreement
- Homeless shelter group homes cannot house registered sex offenders.
- They must be free of alcohol and non-prescribed drugs.
- Homeless shelter group homes who only serve youth who are not yet 20 years old are not subject to the buffers from schools, parks and single-family neighborhoods.
Whether it is an emergency shelter or a homeless shelter group home, the applicant will need to submit a “good neighbor agreement” with their application for a special property use permit. The good neighbor agreement needs to contain:
- A description of their program
- How they will address safety and security
- How they will address property and site maintenance
- How they will engage and communicate with the neighborhood
If the shelter’s program changes substantially, the provider may need to apply for a new special property use permit. If the shelter is in violation of the approved permit and they have failed to correct the violation(s), the Appeal Board of Adjustment may revoke the permit.
Links to the full proposal and maps are given below:
In the fall of 2015, the City Council implemented a six-month moratorium on the siting of emergency shelters within the City. The Council appointed a four member committee consisting of council and planning commission members to develop recommendations on the siting of emergency shelters. The committee met five times and at their April 13, 2016 meeting produced a draft proposal. Meanwhile the moratorium was extended for another six months.
On July 6, 2016, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Ad Hoc Committee proposal and then passed a motion to recommend approval. The City Council first considered the proposal in July 2016; held a workshop on the topic in August and then held a public hearing in September. Based upon the testimony offered at the public hearing, the Council decided to reconvene the committee and invite further participation from the community. Since the committee had more work to do, the moratorium was extended for another six months.
Since the committee was reconvened it has met 11 times. The proposal has been revised as the result of those meetings. At their April 12 meeting, the committee decided to hold a public meeting on the revised proposal. On May 24, the committee held a public meeting asking the public to express their opinion regarding the draft proposal. Over 100 persons were in attendance and approximately 20 persons commented on the proposal. The committee also received written comments. On June 14, the committee discussed the comments received at the public meeting and then decided to forward the proposal to the Planning Commission with a recommendation of approval. As discussed above, that hearing is scheduled for August 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall.The moratorium was extended a 3rd time by the Council in March 2017. The moratorium is now scheduled to end on October 14, 2017.
The moratorium was extended a 3rd time by the Council in March 2017. The moratorium is now scheduled to end on October 14, 2017.
For further information contact:
Steve Langdon, Planning Manager
Please note that City Hall is closed on Fridays.