Due to the declaration of a public health emergency associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Planning and Community Development Department (PCDD) issued an amendment on April 17, 2020, to extend the end date of Temporary Shelter Permit USE2019-0016. It was determined that activities associated with relocating the use would significantly increase the risk of exposing residents and volunteers to the COVID-19 virus. The original permit was issued to HomesNOW for the establishment of a temporary tiny house encampment for people experiencing homelessness, in the northwestern portion of the parking lot at 210 McKenzie Avenue. The tiny house encampment, known as “Unity Village,” was approved to operate from August 24, 2019 through April 30, 2020, given compliance with all requirements and conditions.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the City extended the end date of the encampment from April 30, 2020 to 90 days after the end of the public health emergency. This will protect Unity Village guests, volunteers, and the public throughout the emergency and give HomesNOW adequate notice and transition time thereafter. The amendment includes additional revisions and conditions after careful review of the COVID-19 circumstances necessitating the extension. Consistent with U.S, State, and Whatcom County Department’s of Health recommendations, additional precautions and protocols have been implemented at Unity Village for the safety and wellbeing of all.
The applicant, HomesNOW, a Washington state nonprofit corporation, will continue funding and operating the encampment at the City-owned Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. The encampment will continue providing 20 tiny houses for overnight shelter and amenities for up to 28 people (“guests”), although no new guests will be admitted to the site for the duration of the public health emergency.
HomesNOW withdrew their permit application on April 15, 2020, to relocate Unity Village to the City-owned former Clean Green site at the intersection of Woburn Street and Lakeway Drive.
PCDD determined that the amendment, as conditioned, was consistent with all applicable requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code. The approval is subject to appeal for a fourteen (14) day period. Should an appeal be submitted, the use would be stayed until the appeal is heard by the Hearing Examiner and a decision rendered.
The following link will take you to the Permit Amendment and Exhibits (scroll to the Decisions section until you reach USE2019-0016 210 McKenzie Ave): www.cob.org/notices.