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Tent Encampments

​On January 22, 2018, the Bellingham City Council adopted an emergency interim zoning ordinance regarding tent encampments. Washington State law allows religious organizations to host temporary tent encampments to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness; therefore, the ordinance was adopted in an effort to ensure we could help any community religious group or 501(c)(3) not for profit group that wanted to take advantage of state rules.

On February 26, 2018, the City Council held a public hearing and adopted Ordinance 2018-02-005 into law. The interim rules expire in one year, however the city is drafting final rules that will be considered by the Planning Commission and City Council in the spring and summer of 2018.

Basic Parameters of the Ordinance 

  • No fees associated with application
  • Type II review process - includes 14-day public comment period with decision within 30 days.
  • Sponsor and managing agency must have a "code of conduct" policy
  • There is a limited duration of 90 days (on 90-day extension allowed)
  • ​No more than 100 people at one time
  • There must be setbacks from property lines and other site / operational regulations
  • Must meet public health requirements (sanitation, potable water, trash, food prep, etc.)



​Kurt Nabbefeld - (360) 778-8300 or knabbefeld@cob.org