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Councilmember Burgess’ Statement on Homeless Encampment Ordinance

Councilmember Tim Burgess issued the following statement regarding today’s Council decision on the Homeless Encampment Ordinance:

“I agree that the City can do a better job of how we respond to homelessness in Seattle. But, the legislation introduced today is not the answer.

“The proposed ordinance is not the balanced approach the people of Seattle deserve, an approach that carefully weighs and balances compassion with our public health and safety obligations. This ordinance tips this balance decidedly away from our public health and safety responsibilities. It essentially establishes a new right to camp on public property throughout the city, including in our parks and greenbelts, and on city sidewalks and planting strips. It mandates that the city must provide sanitation and garbage services at any encampment that requests these services. It makes removal of any of these encampments very difficult, if not impossible. And in those limited cases where an encampment is closed, the city must find an alternative location for the encampment to be reestablished, another element of this new right to camp on public property.

“Irresponsibly, the proposed ordinance mandates that city taxpayers pay $250 per day to individuals if any of the detailed and onerous conditions of the ordinance are not adhered to, essentially creating a right of private action against the city government. (This ordinance was introduced today without the required fiscal note that our rules require which would help council members understand the fiscal impact of this fee.)

“Finally, and perhaps most important, this ordinance is wholly inconsistent with accepted national best practices to address homelessness. We can do better without the very poor policy mandates required by this ordinance. For these reasons, I voted against introduction of this poorly crafted and ill-advised ordinance.”

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