BurienOrdinance606Excerpt-2 Click image to see larger version.[/caption] Ordinance #606, passed by the Burien City Council on Aug. 18 (read our original coverage here) has been raising quite a stink lately, garnering international media attention for our little city’s controversial new rule. The ordinance – which passed 6-1, with Lauren Berkowitz the lone “No” vote – permits police to issue trespass warnings to people with “Bodily hygiene or scent that is unreasonably offensive to others” as well as other “disruptive behavior.” Many residents believe this ordinance was created to deal with a homeless population that was gathering at Annex Park, as well as people who frequent the library and city hall building. However, several media outlets have twisted this nearly month-old story into click-baiting headlines like “The police can now ticket anyone who smells bad” and “The city of Burien, Washington has passed a new law that makes having an offensive body odour illegal in public parks, library, city hall” and “Don’t forget to put your deodorant on before you come into the City or else…” Here’s KIRO-TV’s report, in which the American Civil Liberties Union says it believes the ordinance is unconstitutional because it appears to single out homeless people: “Rules regarding odor and hygiene are not new, in fact KCLS (the King County Library System) and other public agencies also employ similar rules and have done so for some time,” the city said in a statement (another explanatory PDF is here) issued due to media attention. “If the scent is disrupting the use of the library, staff approaches the patron, explains the problem and ask them to leave the library, while encouraging them to visit the library as soon as the problem is corrected. Staff treats all hygiene and scent issues equitably, keeping in mind that strong perfume and cologne can be as offensive and even more impactful on people with allergies as offensive body hygiene can be to others.” The city added:

“Burien’s policies must also be consistent with constitutional rights and protections (speech, assembly). The ordinance explicitly recognizes that members of the public have legitimate interests and rights regarding the use and enjoyment of City and other publicly owned property. An essential and indispensable feature of the ordinance is its guaranteed right of appeal.”
Here are some recent Tweets about the subject:
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