File Photo

File Photo

KC Sheriff’s Office sues over Burien encampment ban

Office of Law Enforcement Oversight director calls Burien’s ordinance “unconstitutional.”

On March 12, King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) issued a statement applauding the decision by King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall to refuse enforcement of a Burien city code that criminalizes homelessness, and to seek relief in federal court declaring the code unconstitutional.

On March 4, 2024, the Burien City Council adopted Ordinance 832, which prohibits individuals from camping on public property between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., if shelter is available. Camping on public property is also prohibited during daytime hours.

According to the City of Burien, the city is working closely with the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and service provider partners to ensure outreach and services are offered before enforcement.

“If, after repeated contact with service providers an individual refuses the available shelter and refuses to leave the public property, they could be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. In addition, Burien supports the use of any available deferral process since the priority remains getting people off of the street and into the housing, services, or treatment that they need,” the city stated on their website.

The City of Burien contracts with King County Sheriff’s Office for police services. The city allocated more than $16 million in its 2024 Adopted Budget for contracted police services with King County. The funding for the police contracting with the KCSO makes up almost the entirety of their police budget in lieu of their own police force.

PubliCola Reporter Erica Barnett reported that King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall announced on March 11 that her office is suing Burien over its total ban on living unsheltered in the city, calling the law a violation of the rights affirmed in a consequential 2019 case, Martin v. Boise, which prevents cities in the western U.S. from banning homeless people from public spaces unless adequate shelter is available.

“Since his hiring in late 2022, the Burien city manager has seemingly been carrying out a vendetta against unsheltered persons in Burien,” said Tamer Abouzeid, OLEO Director. “The extremes to which the city has gone, and the city’s continued refusal to utilize support offered by King County to help with issues of homelessness, belie any pretense that these actions are taken to improve public safety in Burien.

Abouzeid also argued that based on current case law, the code is unconstitutional, and that Burien’s anti-homeless policies are ineffective and counterproductive, whether at combatting homelessness itself or at improving public safety.

As it has done throughout the past year, OLEO will continue to monitor the situation in Burien and to discuss the issues with community stakeholders, the Sheriff’s Office, and King County’s Community Advisory Committee for Law Enforcement Oversight (KCSO).

“Research has shown that the criminalization of homelessness, especially in areas like Burien where there is insufficient housing and support, neither improves public safety nor ameliorates the factors leading to homelessness,” said OLEO Senior Policy Analyst Katy Kirschner. “As early as 2012 and as recently as last week’s State of the Union address by President Biden, the federal government has reiterated common-sense, uncontroversial ideas about homelessness: things like building affordable housing, lowering rent costs, and increasing access to behavioral health services help people escape the cycle of homelessness, while criminalization ‘creates a costly revolving door that circulates individuals experiencing homelessness from the street to the criminal justice system and back.’”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Madeline Goldsmith. COURTESY PHOTO
No suspect yet in July 2023 Kent murder of Madeline Goldsmith

Someone fatally shot 18-year-old Kentwood High graduate as she sat in vehicle near Lake Meridian

t
Police bust mother, daughter in Kent for retail crime spree

Two reportedly joined one other woman in 3-state crime ring taking women’s clothing from Lululemon

t
Reith Road in Kent to get two new roundabouts this year

City Council approves $4.28 million bid; project to start in late May or early June

t
Puget Sound Fire’s Teddy Bear Clinic set for May 18 in Kent

Annual event provides free checkups for teddy bears and children

t
Overturned military vehicle causes I-5 backup near Kent, Federal Way

Wednesday, April 10 in northbound lanes near South 272nd Street

t
Kent Police Blotter: March 26 to April 7

Incidents include robberies, burglaries, shooting

t
State Patrol seek witnesses to I-5 hit-and-run crash in Kent

Collision at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, April 8 along northbound I-5 near State Route 516

t
Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent turns profit for 2nd consecutive year

City-owned facility brings in about $600,000 in 2023

Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters in a 2021 bust. File photo
New state legislation fights catalytic converter theft

Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill on March 26 adding new regulations… Continue reading

t
Firefighting Diversity & Recruitment Workshop set for May 11 in Kent

Event designed to help potential candidates get jobs

t
Kentwood High grad’s legacy of love lives on through organ donation

Madeline Goldsmith one of 344 organ donors honored by Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia

Flowers, framed photos, plush toys and a QR code to the GoFundMe pages of the families grace the memorial site after the March 19 crash. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing.
Judge, lawyers debate low bail for Kent driver in fatal Renton crash

Judge explains reduction from $1 million to $100,000, which was posted by family of Chase Jones