Homelessness issue returns to Burien City Council at Monday night's meeting 1by Jack Mayne Whether a new ordinance criminalizes homelessness or not again returned to the forefront at the latest regular Burien City Council meeting. Four people who said they lived in Seattle and not in Burien came to comment to the Council at the outset of its meeting on Monday night (Feb. 2). Blatant violation Bryce Phillips said he was against Ordinance 621, which “blatantly violates the Constitution,” and said he would be back with more people to future meetings. He added that more people in Burien are “waking up to this.” The way to stop homelessness was “to deal with homelessness and not to resort to brutality and segregation,” he said, but then Mayor Lucy Krakowiak interrupted him to say it was against the Council rules to make “personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks …” Phillips responded that he “was pretty sure this was still the United States, ma’am, and I have freedom of speech and nothing I have said is slanderous, they are all just facts.” He added some information about another city when Krakowiak again interrupted him to tell him his two-minute time was up. “Well, some people are starting to think that maybe your time is up if you are going to treat citizens like this,” Phillips said as he left the podium. Jeremy Griffin of Seattle said he was “here to urge you to repeal Ordinance 621” as a human rights violation that he doesn’t “want to be a have a long, drawn out campaign over this ordinance, but I will.” Carlos Hernandez, also from Seattle, also said he sought repeal of the “trespass” Ordinance 621, which “criminalizes, dehumanizes and discriminates homeless people.” Hernandez then looked at Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, adding, “Thank you Lauren, you really represent the people. I definitely know people will prefer you,” he said. Already enough laws Tanya Partington, another Seattle resident, said “we don’t need a law to criminalize one, there is already laws in place for that. What we need is help with the homeless.” She said, “you people” are “quietly, behind everybody’s backs discriminating and criminalizing the homeless and you think nobody is going to bring that up?” She said, “We want to help help the homeless.” Then she turned to Berkowitz and said, “Lauren, I have never met you, but I have see some of the things you have done and you are a tremendous inspiration to a lot of young people for standing up.” She urged Councilmembers to not to “shut away compassion because you don’t want to look at it.” A dispute over time allowed to read a resolution came up when Rachel Levine said she represented a group, not just herself, so she wanted more than the permitted two minutes to read an entire resolution to the Councilmembers of behalf of the White Center Library Guild regarding a potential new library structure that her group felt should be left as a library even if the area was incorporated into Seattle. But, after two minutes, Mayor Krakowiak said her time was up. “No, it is not, because I am representing a group,” Levine responded. “I will finish, I will finish two more … I am sorry…” She read a few more lines when her microphone was turned off and she spoke a few more words soundlessly, and then left the podium. “Rachel, I am going to ask you to honor time just like everybody else,” said the mayor. Levine said since she represented a group she as supposed to have “a few more minutes.” “Rachel, we changed the rules and we have had those rules in place for a year,” Krakowiak said. County homeless plan The Council then spent a long time negotiating phraseology of a proposal drafted by the King County Committee to End Homelessness. The committee is working on a four-year strategic plan to replace the current 10-year plan that expires this year. City Manager Kamuron Gurol said the Council can make suggestions on changes, additions or deletions in the county document that Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta, a member of the countywide committee, can take back to the Sound Cities Association for discussion. At its Feb. 23 study session, Councilmembers started discussions on this and some Councilmembers said they may have suggestions, but some comments were conflicting. The Council then spent several minutes discussing items in the proposed strategic plan, some members asking that items be removed, rewritten or added. But the Burien Council is only one member of the group working on the document and cannot make changes itself. The King County Committee to End Homelessness makes all change decisions and Burien can only suggest changes. Berkowitz suggested that editing comments in committee document as if they were directed at Burien would be “being a little bit high and mighty … all these things (in the proposed homeless policy) are not nearly just about Burien.” Gurol said the local, Burien topic of homelessness “is a conversation we are going to have episodically over the next several months so right now we are just keying up to getting input into the regional process, we’ve got our own local process as well.” Berkowitz said she disagrees with some thing in the document, but that it is “a really well researched document – it’s a draft … it sound like there is general support” for the County homeless group’s proposal. “Although there might be things that each of us don’t like so much, generally we do support this document, at least four of us do which is enough to move forward with a general recommendation” agreeing with the plan, said Berkowitz. Councilmember Debi Wagner said she was looking forward to “see a collaborative effort by all of the cities in the county working toward these goals …” Councilmember Bob Edgar said he focused on items in the County proposal that would more affect Burien, rather than broad concerns. He noted there would be not just cities involved, but businesses, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, “so there is enough to go around for everyone” and every city does not need to do everything in the proposal. Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta said, “we generally support it” and that is a message to convey to the Sound Cities Association and “that we are grateful for the work that the committee on homelessness has done on this …” Tosta said the conversation at the association will be a “broad discussion with diverse opinions.” The Council also took some time to discuss the evaluation of Gurol on his first anniversary on April 16 as city manager. Angie Chaufty, the city’s human resource manager, said she wanted the Council to review the evaluation process and suggest any changes it felt necessary. Some review dates and minor items were changed and added to the review format.]]>