The public expects municipalities and other taxpayer-funded institutions to manage its resources and assets responsibly, and for the greater good of the community. To do that, municipalities frequently require a permitting process for use of city-owned buildings, parks and other properties.
The City of Olympia has not required a permit to use city-owned parking lots for activities other than the obvious. But it is appropriate for them to do so.
This issue arose when the city received complaints from individuals and businesses about the impact of a weekly feeding of homeless people at a city-owned parking lot at State Avenue and Washington Street. Among the concerns: pedestrian safety and litter.
Whether or not serving meals to the hungry suits this particular location, the city must have a tool to regulate what occurs there. Without it, the city is helpless to ensure that surrounding businesses and individuals won’t be negatively impacted.
The parking ordinance update making its way through council also includes an overnight camping ban and a requirement to move vehicles every 48 hours.
All of these measures add consistency to the city code and deserve council approval.