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Opponents seek review of Sand Island homeless site

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    This is the 5-acre site of the city's proposed Temporary Mobile Access to Services and Housing (TMASH) project on state Department of Transportation property at Sand Island. Long-term plans call for "maritime purposes."

A human rights group wants the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to reconsider its decision to give a three-year lease to the city for its homeless transition center.

The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, in its request for a contested case hearing on the matter, argued that the board erred in allowing the no-cost lease without seeing an environmental assessment examining the impacts such a project might have to the area or the people who are to stay there, PASS executive director Kathryn Xian said.

An earlier state Department of Health study suggested the site may contain contaminants. City officials have said that if there are issues it cannot address, they will not proceed with its plan for the center.

“We argue that the city’s failure to conduct, and BLNR’s failure to compel, an environmental assessment violates our and the public’s procedural rights, threatening our capacity to expediently provide necessary services to the population that we serve,” Xian said.

BLNR officials have indicated that contested case proceedings, a process where all sides present their arguments in a quasi-judicial setting before a hearing officer, do not apply to leases, only land use decisons the agency gives.

The BLNR approval of the lease on Sept. 12 was conditional on several things, including a decision on an expected contested case filling. 

City officials describe the site as a temporary place for about 100 homeless individuals and families to set up a tent and access services while they work on more permanent housing for them under its $42 million Housing First program.

Managing Director Ember Shinn said the site is not expected to up no more than two years.

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