Story by Jack Mayne Photos & Video by Michael Brunk Whether you are for or against Burien’sÂ so-called â€œTrespass Ordinances,â€ it seems it will become the debate that never ends, with both sides becoming more and more entrenched. Once more the Burien City Council spent an hour Monday night (April 6) listening to many of the same messages concerning the so-called trespass ordinances that have been linked by demonstrators to criminalizing the homeless and defended by those who say the whole thing is not about homelessness, but crime. Many hope the City Council willÂ do one of two things soon to end the endless debate. Either repeal the two ordinances or, as former Councilmember Jack Block Jr. said at Mondayâ€™s meeting, make it clear there will be no change in the measures for at least the rest of 2015. The side defending Ordinances 606 and 621, and urging their retention, did get some new supporters coming out to make their case to the Burien City Council Monday night (April 6). The mostly same opponents repeated many of the arguments they have made for the past several weeks. Most are not Burien residents â€“ a few are local folk â€“ who have proclaimed that the ordinances criminalize homelessness and empower police to act without having to prove their case. Schoolgirls Scared First on Monday evening the Burien City Council voted unanimously to allow two minutes each of all those wanting to address the Council on matters not on the agenda. The next hour was turned over largely to people for and against the cityâ€™s two ordinances regulating conduct in public areas, mostly the King County Library that is in the City Hall building. The first speaker in favor of retaining the ordinances was a 12-year old Burien student who said she uses the library for schoolwork and, â€œI am scared to use the public bathrooms.â€ Later in the meeting another teenager â€“ a seventh grader â€“ said, â€œthis ordinance needs to stay in place,â€ that â€œthe problem with all the loitering and drug use around the library is people being scared to go to the library. I am not just worried about my safety, I am worried for everyone else too.â€ She wondered if people canâ€™t read the signs that say no loitering. â€œIt makes me mad that they can act like that and not even obey the simple rules.â€ The girl said she understood that homeless needed somewhere to stay but suggested rather than loitering at the library having â€œspitting fights and pushing each other down the stairs,â€ they should be doing things to get their life â€œback into order.â€ Taxpayer Rights? Roger Delorm said â€œhomeless rights versus my rights as a taxpaying citizen of the City of Burien,â€ adding, â€œWhere is my right when I come into this building and not have to step around people lying on the floor or going to the public restroom and having to go around a person half-naked standing at the sink taking a bath? â€œWhere is my right not to be accosted on the sidewalks, parking lots and at the Transit Center?â€ Delorm noted a remark a while back about the homeless paying taxes on a cheeseburger and asked, â€œHow many cheeseburgers would they have to buy to equal the taxes I pay to this city? So, where are my rights?â€ Patti Jensen said a lot of â€œpeople who vote for you, Councilmembersâ€ want to keep the ordinances â€œthat have nothing to do with homelessness, it has to do with criminal activity.â€ She glanced toward the audience where derisive shouting was breaking out, prompting Mayor Lucy Krakowiak to admonish the shouters and noted police officers were in the room. â€˜Morally Reprehensibleâ€™ Former Councilmember Jack Block Jr., who was defeated by Lauren Berkowitz in 2013, said Burien has been listed as having â€œone of the highest crime rates in the state.â€ He said the city has had an influx of people with â€œlittle or no regard for civil behaviorâ€ and because of this, the Council passed the so-called â€œTrespassâ€ ordinances. â€œSome individuals have morphed this issue into being an attack on the homeless,â€ and suggested using â€œthose less fortunate in order to further oneâ€™s own personal standing is morally reprehensible.â€ Block said some in the audience were there to force the repeal of the two measures and â€œtheir tactic is one of intimidation to beat you into submission; as we told our children, do not give in to bullies. I urge you tonight to put this issue to rest and return to more important matters of governing our city. I urge you tonight to bring from the floor a motion that the issue resolution of Ordinance 621 will not be revisited for the rest of 2015â€ when he was told by Krakowiak his two minutes was up. Supporters of retaining the ordinances applauded him. â€˜Make Burien Awesomeâ€™ Resident Robbie Howell also supported keeping the two ordinances, â€œat least it is a start to make Burien awesome,â€ and suggesting people are not bringing their children to the library in City Hall because parents did not want to subject them to â€œgang fights, teenagers peeing and having sex in the elevatorâ€ and other disruptive conduct. Her remarks were accompanied by loud male laughter. â€œI do hope the Council will make a strong effort to work with the state, county and Burien agencies to help the homeless so those who really want to make a change in their lives will get the help they really need,â€ Howell said. She said the people who donâ€™t want help, â€œwill no longer continually disrupt the lives of peopleâ€ who are business owners as people in public places. Linda Plein said she has lived â€œas a taxpayerâ€ in Burien for 25 years and â€œthis is an ordinance against trespassing, not against the homeless,â€ at which some shouted and Mayor Krakowiak again warned against â€œcomments and clapping so we can hear each individual speak.â€ â€œWe want a safe place, we want economic development, the only way to have economic development is to have a safe place,â€ Plein said. Remember â€˜Visioning Planâ€™ Steve Schmidt, a longtime resident, said he urged the Council to stick with Ordinance 621 and to remember the original â€œvisioning planâ€ from the time 25 years ago when Burien incorporated as a city. â€œThereâ€™s two main things, cultivate a thriving business community and provide for public safety,â€ he said. â€œ621 is a reasonable approach by the City Council to satisfy both. I would urge you to stay with 621 as written.â€ Darla Green, a business owner who has often and forcefully advocated keeping the ordinance, noted the bustle of the Council chambers. â€œThere is a lot of passion in this room tonight. Awesome. It is great to see a community involved in the safety of the very neighborhoods they live in.” She said she has worked with the homeless and disadvantaged youth and is â€œdisgusted that there are individuals manipulating this issue of crime prevention to advance their personal agenda,” adding that she remained supportive â€œof the five City Council members who voted in favor of making Burien a safer community and recognizing that we have a growing problem with crime, not homelessness, itâ€™s crime.â€ The city has to address the cityâ€™s â€œsocial disorderâ€ so it can then address the pressing problems we are facing. She said she was asking Council members â€œto put aside your personal agendas and start working together on behalf of Burien citizens. Stop revisiting this issue and move forward to a safer Burien.” Wonâ€™t be threatened â€œThose of us who are committed to a safe Burien will not be threatened, coerced or intimidated by outside groups whose sole interest is to create chaos in our neighborhood. We are people who live, work and own businesses in Burien who are committed to having a crime-free community. The voters will take careful note as to who supports public safety in the next election.â€ She got loud and sustained applause from the audience until Krakowiak asked for quiet to continue the testimony. Steve Parks, of Burien, read from a document he said was written by City Manager Kamuron Gurol, that the motivation for the trespass ordinance was â€œa helpful tool to help address behavior problems on public property â€¦â€ and then he was interrupted by audience members who were told to quiet down by Mayor Krakowiak. Parks continued reading, â€œthe trespass mechanism is a milder sanction, versus arrest, than arrest and prosecutionâ€ and has been employed by the King County Library, Seattle Public Library, Metro Transit â€œfor many yearsâ€ to handle behavior problems. â€œNever does it mention homelessness,â€ Parks said. â€œI know there is a homeless problem, letâ€™s work together, letâ€™s fix it but letâ€™s keep 621 intact.â€ Dawn L. Coffenbury said she was new to Burien and said she did not feel safe at the library and children who come to the library need to feel safe. She said she was surprised that â€œno one was doing anything aboutâ€ her request for some action. â€œI am really surprised that people can come in here that donâ€™t even live here and be able to make a statement when they are not even part of this community. This is about where we live and not someone who lives away, somewhere else.â€ J.J. Connelly of the Boulevard Park area thanked the Council for Ordinance 621. â€œI hope you guys continue to support it and you donâ€™t let these people from outside our community change your mind.” [youtube]https://youtu.be/8pjZaFLRYcY[/youtube] â€˜Intoleranceâ€™ for behavior Burien resident Mark Manning said he was opposed to Ordinances 606 and 621, because it â€œappears to attempt to legislatively erode and negate individual rightsâ€ under the state Constitution â€œto which this city is boundâ€ and based on â€œintolerance for public behavior of some individual who are being couched under the term of disruptive behaviorâ€ and cited Constitutional passages about freedom and the Council members are in office to protect individual rights, â€œnot erode themâ€ and his trust in the Council â€œis now broken.â€ Cammie Pekonen said she was â€œembarrassed to be a Burien resident with this ordinance.â€ Ann Slater, a Burien resident who has spoken against the ordinances before, said she â€œwholeheartedly urged the Council to repealâ€ the two ordinances. â€œBurien does not exist in a bubble. Homelessness is increasing, in part, because over the last seven years, our state and federal government has slashed social services like unemployment benefits, childcare and housing.â€ She said she is a member of Radical Women, which has seen â€œthe impact of these cuts on women, 40 percent of families headed by single moms live in poverty.â€ The two Burien ordinances are â€œpunishing these people by making it a crime for someone without a home to sleep in a public space. That is immoral and scandalous in addition to being unconstitutional as the ACLU has said.â€ Instead of passing â€œdraconian lawsâ€ the Council must find ways to provide for services, Slater said. Weâ€™ll be back A regular speaker at these events is Will Laudanski of Seattle, and a frequent demonstrator who has spoken against the Burien ordinances before, and he said Monday night that the ordinances â€œdefinitely doâ€ target the homeless. He suggested, as he has before, that there are many ordinances and state laws on the books to control misbehavior in public and the Burien ordinance is to â€œharass the homelessâ€ and â€œsuspend due process.â€ Several other speakers, most who had appeared before the Burien Council before, said the city statutes should be repealed. Another repeat protestor, Bryce Phillips of Kent, said people cannot go to the shores of Lake Burien unless they â€œare one of the privileged fewâ€ who own property there, and the poor â€œpay more taxes that the richâ€ and the libraries and the parks are â€œthe last refugeâ€ for those who donâ€™t own property. â€œInjustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,â€ he added. Jeremy Griffin of Seattle, once again told the Council that opponents to the ordinances would keep coming to protest. â€œWe are human rights activists. We are going to keep coming, and keep coming until youÂ repeal the ordinance. â€œThere is a lot of ill will about why people from outside of this city would take such notice of this law,â€ Griffin said. â€œThis ordinance allows police, at their discretion, to turn behavior into a crime without the legal burden of proving that crime. Several other repeat protestors, mostly from outside Burien, appeared and repeated their objections. But, at the end of the long hour, Richard Dover of Burien said he was likely to make both sides mad at him. â€œThe group that is against, you boo and you are rude,â€ he said. â€œThe group that is for it are just as bad. Both sides should show honor to the other side.â€]]>
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