Burien City Council repeals highly contested city ‘Trespass Ordinance(s)’


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By Jack Mayne

The Burien City Council on Monday night (Feb. 5) passed by a 4 to 3 vote to repeal the three previous so-called ‘Trespass Ordinances,’ but with a revision that it will not take effect for 60 days so Council can potentially make changes.

The passage of the ordinance was moved by Councilmember Pedro Olguin and seconded by Councilmember Krystal Marx, who said there are other ordinances to handle minor problems because “trespassing does not solve the problem.” Olguin said police can still use discretion and not arrest a person if he deems that person would be benefited.

Councilmember Lucy Krakowiak defended the current ordinance. Also opposing the repeal was Councilmember Bob Edgar. Councilmember Nancy Tosta said she also opposed the repeal of the ordinance, which “does not criminalize homelessness” and that she would vote against the repeal, and that without the ordinance offenders could then be put into jail.

Several residents spoke in favor of keeping the ordinance, including former Councilmember Debi Wagner, who said the ordinance was a safety measure, and one requested by the King County Library in the jointly owned building.

Several others – including the American Civil Liberties Union (read PDF letter here) – wanted the ordinance repealed because it infringes on human rights and is not needed.

Council had updated the now repealed measure by adding “due process” to the previous version which then-Councilmember Berkowitz said at the time was “unconstitutionally vague and also is mean spirited” and “it would be better to just repeal this ordinance in its entirety,” but she said then that she would support the passage because the changes at the time were “better than nothing.”

Councilmember Pedro Olguin said in a previous meeting that the trespass ordinance is “really unconstitutional in a lot of ways … given the history of criminalization of homelessness” and not considering the problem “in a real way,” and failing to provide human services so “I think judging someone on the way they smell of how they look is not something the city should be engaged in.”

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