Mercer Island votes to ban public camping

VIDEO: Mercer Island City Council votes to ban tents

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — The Mercer Island City Council passed an ordinance that would ban camping on all public property, and direct homeless people to shelters in other cities.

The council passed the ordinance with a 6-1 vote.

City officials say the law will help people living outdoors or in their cars, as well as address neighbors’ safety concerns. But an organized group of Mercer Island residents and the ACLU of Washington say the proposal criminalizes homelessness without addressing homelessness’ underlying causes.

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Mercer Island City councilmembers plan to discuss and potentially vote on the ordinance Tuesday. Under the plan, violations would be a misdemeanor offense, subject to fines of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.