Get the Facts About the City's Camping Ordinance
In September 2015, the City Council voted to change Vancouver's unlawful camping ordinance (VMC 8.22.040,050). This was done in response to a number of court cases and opinions issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, which concluded that any local ordinance making camping a crime in all places at all times when shelter space was unavailable violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
As of Oct. 21, 2015, it is now legal to camp overnight on most publicly-owned property in Vancouver between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. This does NOT include public parks, which close nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- It is now legal to camp on most publicly owned property within the city limits between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. This does not include public parks, which close nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- It is now legal to use camp paraphernalia on most publicly owned property between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., including tents, tarps, sleeping bags and temporary huts that are not attached to the ground.
- It is now legal to sleep in cars parking on most public property between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
- It is legal to use camp stoves and small cooking devices, as long as they are used in safe manner and in conditions that do not place any person, property or structure in danger.
- It is against the law to store camp paraphernalia, such as tents, tarps, sleeping bags and other equipment, on publicly owned property during the day (6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.).
- It is against the law to camp in any City park and it is still against the law to be in a public park after the park's posted hours of operation (all City parks are closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.).
- It is against the law to have a fire inside a City park.
- It is against the law to camp on private property without the property owner's permission.
- Aggressive panhandling (i.e. begging with the intent to intimidate another into giving money or goods) is against the law (VMC 7.04.020).
- Obstructing pedestrians or vehicle travel is against the law (VMC 7.04.030(4)).This means that people may not:
- sit or lay in a manner that blocks passage of another person or vehicle or requires another person or driver to take evasive action to avoid contact
- sit or lay down on a public sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. in a manner that blocks the sidewalk
- It is against the law to litter (RCW 70.93.060). All property should be treated with respect, regardless of the value of the property and, as a community, we have a right to keep the city beautiful by requiring citizens pick up after themselves.
- The City's parking code will continue to be enforced (VMC 19.12.080). This includes ticketing unlicensed, inoperable or recreational vehicles parked on the street.