Lodging Facility Permits

Someone's belongings beneath a tree outside of the Devereux Center in Coos Bay in June.

COOS BAY — The Coos Bay City Council discussed enacting a new ordinance at Tuesday's meeting that would allow for indoor and outdoor temporary lodging to be permitted within the city.

A public hearing was opened, but because of a posting error the council moved to continue the hearing until July 16 before making a decision, with comments being taken July 2, as well.

“There are a number of cities out there who are dealing with homelessness issues, and working to figure out how best to provide at least temporary lodging for those individuals," said Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock. “One idea has been to create and permit temporary lodging facilities at churches and other nonprofits.”  

The ordinance would let faith-based organizations and nonprofits 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.

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.

“Those properties that have large enough parking lots where they could house a few people who are living in vehicles, or if they have sufficient space in their building to allow lodging in their building, we’re taking a stab at crafting an ordinance to allow lodging in those spaces using members of our faith-based community and the homeless work group to create such an ordinance,” Craddock said.

These temporary lodging spaces under the new ordinance would only be available for 30 consecutive days, or 90 days out of the year.

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.

“The reality is we’re constantly telling people where they can’t be and we’re trying to find locations where they can be. It’s a difficult situation for the city, because the city is not in the area to provide social services, we can barely provide municipal services ... homelessness is a community issue and we’re looking for the community’s help,” Craddock said.

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