Judge Declares Camp A Nuisance Property

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Friday, March 24, 2023 at 12:41 p.m.

A Superior Court judge declared that the large homeless encampment in the East Central neighborhood has become a public health and safety hazard, declared it a nuisance, and ordered the state to work with the City on a plan to clear it. 

A fire and explosion that injured two at the encampment last week led to the City to seek a court order to close the encampment arguing in a hearing on Thursday that the property and surrounding neighborhood is plagued by ongoing drug activity, property crime, trafficking in stolen property, litter and rubbish, reckless burning, vehicle prowling and stolen vehicles, burglary, loss of business, intimidation and harassment, rape and indecent liberties, and threat to public health and safety. A hearing has been scheduled for April 19 for the judge to hear the closure plan.

“The judge’s ruling takes us one step closer to restoring the health and safety of everyone in that neighborhood and establishing a firm expectation for those staying at the camp that it is closing by a date certain,” Mayor Nadine Woodward said. “The closure plan will include the availability of services to those in an indoor environment with a bed and regular meals.”

The City contracted with Revive several months ago to provide individualized service assessments and access through the Trent Resource and Assistance Center. Revive also provides services at the encampment through a separate contract making a seamless transition to the navigation center. Overnight space is also available in other area shelters.

Work has already begun on a plan to move people out of the encampment. The plan will include a closure date, which the City has been seeking during months of meetings with the state. The City anticipates scheduling planning meetings as soon as next week.

The City argued in the nuisance action that it has given the state several months notice and opportunity to voluntarily abate the property. The complaint alleged:

  • The state failed to stop the drug and criminal activity that is “robbing this neighborhood of their peace and quiet enjoyment.”
  • The property is being used to deliver, sell, store, or give away controlled substances.
  • The state is failing to prevent occupants of the property from:
    • Entering vehicles, homes, and property with the intent to commit crimes.
    • Organizing, planning, financing, directing, managing or supervising the theft of property for sale or trade to others.
    • Knowingly causing fires on the property that recklessly place other structures in danger of destruction or damage.
    • Entering vehicles with the intent to commit crimes, are unlawfully possessing stolen vehicles, and are wrongfully obtaining control over vehicles.
    • Entering buildings with the intent to commit crimes.
  • The accumulation of litter, refuse, rubbish, and discarded items and waste materials jeopardizes community health and safety.
  • The site is generating an inordinate amount of property damage, loss of business revenue and direct costs to local businesses.
  • Camp occupants are knowingly and maliciously threatening neighbors with bodily injury, property damage, and other acts intended to threaten neighbors’ physical or mental health or safety.