WA city files lawsuit against local sheriff’s office for not enforcing homeless camping ban

Mar 31, 2024 | Political News

A city in Washington State is suing a local sheriff’s department for not enforcing a ban on homeless encampments in certain parts of the city.

On Thursday, the city of Burien filed a lawsuit against King County and the King County Sheriff's Office for refusing to enforce any portion of Burien Municipal Code 9.85.150 that prohibits encampments within 500 feet of libraries, schools, daycare centers, and other specified locations.

The suit also alleges that the sheriff’s office is breaking its contract to provide police protection for the city of Burien by telling deputies to not enforce the ordinance.

Mayor Kevin Schilling told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, “From the moment they stopped enforcing the camping ban to now we have had three overdoses and one of them has been a death. When we were when we were enforcing our camping ordinance, we did not have overdose.”

“But since they've stopped enforcing our camping ordinance, we have had three overdoses and trash piling up and businesses having property damage and people finding individuals in their walkways and behind businesses.”

“We can see the negative effects of none of this being regulated. The city's ordinance protects businesses and residents.”

Earlier this month, Burien's city council approved a new ordinance that prohibits people from camping on public property from 7 pm to 6 am if a shelter or treatment facility has space available. The order also outlaws daytime camping as well as prohibits homeless encampments within 500 feet of locations such as parks and schools.

Homelessness is so prolific in Burien that the city's July 4 parade had to be detoured around encampments.

King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall, a political appointee of Democratic ing County Executive Dow Constantine responded by ordering her deputies not to enforce the ordinance but did not inform city officials.

She claimed that the constitutionality of the order needed to be resolved and filed a lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to determine the constitutionality of the new ordinance.

Earlier this month, Schilling told Hoffman “Burien is going to work to re-examine our Inter-Local Agreement with the Sheriff’s office. And if that doesn’t bear fruit, we will begin discussions to create our own city police department.”

According to a statement Thursday from Burien, “In breaching the Interlocal Agreement, King County has placed its judgment over that of Burien's duly elected officials; denied the City of Burien its authority to assist and protect Burien residents, businesses, and property; prevented Burien's City Manager from providing direction to the contract police as stated in the Interlocal Agreement; and interfered with Burien's effort to provide guidance for the unhoused within the city’s boundaries.”