Puyallup Herald

Under pressure, Puyallup revokes ‘bad law’ that restricted city’s only homeless center

A lawsuit between Puyallup and a center providing homelessness services has been dismissed after the city repealed an law that required the center to have a private security guard, among other provisions.

Mayor John Palmer signed the repeal, which took effect Wednesday. Homeward Bound, the nonprofit that owns Puyallup’s only homelessness service center, New Hope Resource Center, called the reversal a victory.

“We’re happy that the license has been repealed. It was a bad law,” Homeward Bound board director Ric Rose told The News Tribune.

The city’s attorney, Joe Beck, said Puyallup wants to move away from targeting specific businesses with laws that turn out to be ineffective.

“We want to turn our attention to nuisance approach,” Beck said. “It doesn’t work to focus attention on one or two bad actors.”

A chronic nuisance law passed in May cracks down on repeat criminal or nuisance calls. Any business from convenient stores, to bars, to multi-family residences are liable to increased fines or suspended business licenses after three criminal reports or five nuisance reports. The council is looking to update other nuisance codes, Beck said.

The dismissed lawsuit stems from a law the City Council passed in 2016 requiring all properties deemed “significant impact businesses” to have a security guard, outdoor lighting, garbage removal, a code of conduct for patrons, a fence and a telephone line for community complaints.

New Hope Resource Center at 414 Spring St. was the only location affected by the ordinance. The daytime center offers the midday meals and help connecting people without homes to resources for employment, housing, clothing, mental health and other medical care.

Homeward Bound sued.

The city’s decision to void the law came after the city’s hearing examiner last year overruled the requirement that the center must have a security guard.

People have complained about about illegal behavior, drug use and public sexual acts near the New Hope facility, according to News Tribune archives.

New Hope won a separate case earlier this month against Puyallup. A state hearings board deemed it unacceptable that the city was limiting new homeless centers and shelters to designated parcels in the northwest corner of the city, where there was limited access to transportation.

Rose said Homeward Bound wants to work with the city moving forward to address homelessness.

“We’ve always had no choice but to resort to the court,” Rose said. “We are committed to our mission to help the homeless, and we hope the city cooperates.”

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.