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Lacey approves ban on homeless camping, but can police enforce it?

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LACEY, Wash. -- The Lacey City Council just approved a ban on homeless camping in public places, but the law is not enforceable until the city comes up with a suitable alternative for the homeless or their RVs to go.

The new law is designed to keep people from camping in places like City Hall, parks, streets or publicly owned parking lots.

But court precedent dictates that cities can't kick people off of public property unless there are adequate shelter options available.

In Lacey, council members conceded that those options don't exist yet. That's why some Lacey residents who attended the council meeting said the city's ordinance is premature.

Violators of the new ordinance could face 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. As Q13's Brandi Kruse points out, homeless people are not likely to pay a fine, which leaves many wondering whether Lacey's growing homeless population would end up in jail.

The new regulations also apply to people living in RVs or other vehicles.

When the city does create alternative shelters for the homeless, they won't be allowed to remove homeless people from public spaces if the alternative shelters are full.

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