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COOS BAY -- At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Coos Bay City Council voted to approve a new ordnance which would allow for indoor and outdoor temporary lodging to be permitted within the city.

The ordinance was proposed to the council by the City’s Homeless Work Group. The ordinance would allow faith-based organizations and nonprofits to apply for permits that allow them to open up their property to folks seeking temporary lodging. The ordinance allows for both indoor and outdoor temporary lodging space.

“The intent is to get some kind of availability for the City too, on the homeless being on public property,” Coos Bay Mayor Joe Benetti said. “This would give us the availability to do something about it, hopefully finding a better remedy to deal with this.”

There have been several opportunities for public comment, including three public hearings at City Council meetings. According to City officials, they did not receive any comments about the ordinance.

Indoor spaces would need to have a floor plan identifying sleeping and gathering areas, location of smoke and carbon monoxide meters, restroom facilities and the route guests would use to exit or enter the proposed sleeping and gathering areas. Indoor lodging areas would also require identifying onsite parking locations for guests, a facility management plan and proof of general liability insurance.

Outdoor temporary lodging would require a site plan that includes location and distances to residential properties, public transportation and location of designated overnight parking spaces. Outdoor lodging permits would also ask for a facility management plan and proof of general liability insurance.

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“Most importantly this will hopefully be able to provide facilities for those who need shelter,” City Councilor Lucinda Di Novo said.

The timeline for obtaining one of these permits includes notification to local residents within 10 days of a submitted application. Residents living within a 500-foot radius of the proposed temporary lodging space would have 10 days after being notified to make public comment to the City about the application. At the end of the 10 working day period a recommendation by City staff will be made to the city manager, who will have another 10 days to decide whether to approve or deny the permit. The city manager's decision can be appealed.

The City may periodically review a lodging facility operator permit and its related facility. Additionally, the lodging facility operator shall submit annually an assessment of the temporary lodging facility operation over the prior year, including the number of facility guests served.

It’s important to note that these temporary lodging centers are different from winter warming centers, as they would be open anytime throughout the year.

One change was made to the ordinance before it was enacted, allowing some groups in the community to work together to provide temporary lodging.

“The definition has been modified to include language that would allow for a combination to work together,” community development administrator Carolyn Johnson said.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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