Rules and regulations that guide a church's hosting of the homeless is one thing; procedural blockades are quite another.
That's the conclusion of the Washington State Supreme Court, which ruled July 16 that the City of Woodinville should have considered a land use permit filed by Northshore United Church of Christ to host Tent City 4, the eastside's homeless encampment.
The ruling notes that both parties, city and church, agree that hosting Tent City is in keeping with the church's constitutionally protected religious liberty. Instead, the justices focused on whether the city was right to ignore the church's 2006 request for legal cover for Tent City 4, citing a moratorium on temporary use permits.
No, wrote Justice James M. Johnson in an opinion co-signed by six of his eight colleagues. "The city violated the church's constitutional rights when it refused to process the church's permit application.... Rather than seeking to impose reasonable conditions on the church's project to protect the safety and peace of the neighborhood, the city categorically prevented the Church from exercising what the city concedes is religious practice."