Lawsuit targets Seattle homelessness measure

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is trying to keep a proposed Seattle charter amendment that would change the way the city deals with homelessness from the November ballot.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court, the ACLU, the Seattle County / King Homelessness Coalition and the Transit Riders Union said the officially known “Seattle Compassion” measure known as the Charter Amendment 29, goes beyond local power of initiative and violates state law on how local governments can tackle homelessness.

The measure, which recently qualified for the ballot, orders the city to provide 2,000 units of emergency or permanent housing within a year and requires the city to ensure that parks , playgrounds, sidewalks and other public spaces remain free of camps.

The campaign for the amendment called the trial “another blatant tactic to preserve and protect the status quo”

“This group has dictated the city of Seattle’s homelessness policy for the past decade without any accountability as the crisis has only worsened,” Seattle Compassion said in a written statement.

According to the lawsuit, state law gives local legislative bodies – city and county councils – exclusive power to develop plans targeting homelessness. In addition, he said, the amendment would undermine the city’s binding agreement with King County creating a regional authority for the homeless and illegally waive land use regulations to speed up housing development in the city. emergency and permanent.

“State law provides multiple opportunities for voters to influence homelessness policies and practices, but the city-level initiative process is not one of them,” said the ACLU lawyer Breanne Schuster in a press release.

The proposed amendment 29 to the Charter received mixed comments. Seattle mayoral candidates were almost evenly divided on this in this month’s primary; of the two main voters who qualified for the general election, former city council member Bruce Harrel backs him, saying the city needs to act more urgently on the issue, while city council president Lorena González opposes this, calling it an unfunded mandate that could lead to cuts in vital services.

Some nonprofit homeless leaders and advocates have spoken out in favor of it, but others have launched a campaign called House Our Neighbors to encourage voters to oppose it.

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