City begins talks on mobile shower unit

City officials started discussions in December about exploring sites in 2023 to host a mobile shower trailer to help the city’s homeless population.

Councilor Lowell Rathbun made the recommendation at the Dec. 12 city council meeting, saying a committee of nonprofit leaders are struggling to find a location after nearly a year of searching.

He said via email that the infrastructure could be similar to a shower trailer used at the Caswell-Brown Community in Port Townsend.

“The unit can be towed by a pickup truck,”Rathbun said, “but if there were a permanent location, I believe that the unit is capable of connecting up to the existing water and sewer connections.

“There will definitely not be any greywater or black water released onto the ground as some people fear.”

Rathbun made a motion on Dec. 14 and it was seconded for city staff to investigate city locations that could host the trailer. However, the motion was not voted on by the end of the meeting.

Rathbun suggested three possible locations for the mobile showers: on city property recently purchased just north of the Sequim Civic Center on West Spruce Street; Gerhardt Park on South Third Avenue, or the city’s former city hall annex at the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Spruce Street.

He said the Spruce Street property is well-fenced and features a concrete pad, while Gerhardt Park has functional utilities.

Councilors nixed use of the former city hall annex building because of its proximity to Head Start and its poor infrastructure.

Councilor Rachel Anderson said she’d have to research more on mobile showers, but that she was inclined to recommend the pad next to the civic center.

Councilor William Armacost said he feels there’s a tremendous need and they must balance that with citizens’ safety while considering liability.

“Unfortunately as a city, we have certain additional liabilities because of that role we play in the community,” he said. “We need to be mindful of that. Not that there isn’t a need. It’s not a simple, easy fix.”

Councilor Vicki Lowe said, “I think we’re forgetting the liability of people who are unhoused actually being victims of crime at a way higher rate than the rest of us. So there’s also that safety precaution to remember.”

City manager Matt Huish said he met with Clallam County commissioner Mark Ozias about having a joint commissioner/council meeting to discuss if they can consolidate efforts such as for a mobile shower.

He also recommended amending Rathbun’s motion for city staff to also investigate other properties owned by businesses and churches that could be used too. However, city attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said any analysis provided would be high level and not pointing at one or two non-city owned properties.

The only other public shower facilities for adults are at the YMCA of Sequim.

YMCA of Sequim staff said they do not offer shower passes, but do offer facility access to anyone with a photo ID, and if they cannot afford a day use fee or monthly fee, they are able to ask for financial assistance.