by Jack Mayne It was a noisy and unusual Monday night (Feb. 23), as the Burienâ€™s City Council heard loud arguments and heated discussions over a piece of legislation opponents say makes homelessness a crime in the city. The monthly Council study session was dominated by the so-called â€˜trespassâ€™ ordinance. There were sometimes loud shouts, and the chaoticÂ goings-on were chronicled by wide news coverage from at least four TV stations. Prior to the meeting, the 80-100 protestors â€“ who marched from near Burger King to City Hall â€“ were active and noisy, and once in the council chambers there were some arguments. In one case a local business owner who favors keeping the ordinance got into a yelling match with protesters. â€œIf you’re not a Burien resident then you have no right to be here,â€ said Darla Green, Burien resident and owner of Skin Perfect. This was met with â€œhow many here are from Burien?â€ and many raised hands and a strongÂ response â€“ here’s a video of the frantic scene as shot by Scott Schaefer: [youtube]http://youtu.be/WvcDfLwGgx4[/youtube] Repeal these laws Homeless activists, local residents and business operators got a minute each to tell the Council if they thought the twin ordinances involved, Ordinance 606 approved last December (download PDF here), and the January-passed modification, Ordinance 621 (download PDF here), should be repealed. Gabriella Duncan, who lives in the Skyway area and who, according to press reports, was homeless â€œuntil recently,â€ spoke first. She was representing a number of people â€œwho are hungry, angry, lonely and tired,â€ and said she was reading a â€œdemand letter.â€ Duncan said she was â€œexperiencing homelessness as a white, privileged person.â€ She apologized for â€œan incident with a lady in the backâ€ because it is â€œdifficult sometimes when I see these things.â€ This incident, also before the Council convened its monthly non-voting study session, involved Duncan and another woman verbally sparring over the homelessness problem. â€œI would like to stand up for my friends here,â€ gesturing to the group of men and women behind her. â€œThis ordinance is absolutely, appallingly ridiculous,â€ she said as she was interrupted by Mayor Lucy Krakoviak to remind her she had only one minute for her comments. â€œOne minute? I thought I had five,â€ she said with the mayor responding thatÂ she did not. She listed the history in Burien of the ordinance at issue, as several of the group behind her â€“ some wearing shower caps â€“simulated brushing their teeth, which has been an issue when homeless people had done this in public or in public lavatories; here’s a video: [youtube]http://youtu.be/Pa7zGeLJQoQ[/youtube] Dehumanizing The ordinance, Duncan said, â€œviolates the U.S. Constitution and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.â€ â€œOrdinance 606 was passed specifically for the sole purpose of dehumanizing and criminalizing human beings who have nowhere else to go,â€ Duncan said. â€œThe legislation is clearly written in a manner that allows discretionary enforcement based on vague terms, such as unreasonably â€˜disruptiveâ€™ or â€˜boisterous,â€™ â€˜bodily hygieneâ€™ or â€˜scents that is unreasonably offensive to othersâ€™ and so on. â€œThe Burien Police already have an ugly reputation for harassing the homeless and even cutting up tents and sleeping bags with knives in the middle of the night. It is clear who these laws are meant to affect and further displace and they are among the most vulnerable members of society.â€ Duncan said the homeless have rights â€œjust like anyone in Burien and do not deserve to be harassed into leaving this community.â€ â€œIf the city of Burien elected officials truly believe that everyone has the right to access public facilities, as you have stated, you will repeal this unreasonably offensive ordinance,â€ Duncan said. â€œThe City of Burien needs to deal with homelessness responsibly, instead of trying to force people to leave.â€ Provide services Duncan said the city should be providing housing, human services and â€œwe shall not stand for this gross assault on human dignityâ€ adding her group demanded the ordinances be repealed â€œimmediately, or further action will be taken.â€ She did not specify the action and because the Council was in unofficial study session and not in a regular meeting, it took no action on the issue. The group of demonstrators surrounding Duncan then began chanting anti-homeless slogans such as â€œshame on youâ€ and shouting about a further demonstration to be held outside a few minutes later. Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, who has often been the sole and vocal opponent of the two â€œtrespassâ€ ordinances, left the session briefly to thank the protestors for coming to the Council session; here’s a video: [youtube]http://youtu.be/MEaVw1MZWKk[/youtube] Disabled homeless mother Kristina Sawyckyj-Moreland, â€œa disabled, homeless veteranâ€ who said she and her â€œseveral, several small childrenâ€ have been living in their car for the past four months, unable to find housing because area apartments do not have wheelchair access. Moreland said she chose to live in Burien because her church is there and because she has gotten help from Transform Burien, a Christian-based service organization. She told the Council she was fearful because her autistic son sometimes uses vulgar language and â€œdoes not smell appropriateâ€ which could cause trouble â€œor we could get arrested.â€ â€˜People who elect youâ€™ Darla Green told the Council she â€œrepresents the quiet majority, people who elect youâ€ and that she favors the retention of the ordinance. â€œThis is not about being homeless, this is about criminal behavior and behavior such as shooting up in our bathrooms,â€ gesturing to the nearby lobby bathrooms in the City Hall and library. â€œI wonâ€™t bring my kids here anymore.â€ She said people donâ€™t have the right to do drugs in public or to beg on street corners, â€œthat is illegal.â€ â€œIf someone has the ability to sit on street corners for eight hours and hold a cardboard sign, then they can do yard work, they can do dishes, they can work for a living,â€ Green said. Fay Sennet, Burien, said the city should make laws about drug addicts, not about smell, â€œsmell does not harm people,â€ adding people can walk away if they do not like someoneâ€™s smell. The Council in January passed an updated ordinance that eliminated â€œsmelling badâ€ from the actions that could cause a person to be trespassed. Law â€˜badly writtenâ€™ Breanne Schuster, a policy intern for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said â€œno city should adopt laws which, in practice, would make it against the law to be homeless and the Burien ordinance is â€œbadly writtenâ€ because it gives employees â€œnearly complete discretion to decide what type of conduct to prohibit. This is a recipe for discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement â€¦ and government employees are left to decide who can and cannot use a public place and for what purpose.â€ She said the ordinance does not give any guide to what kind of behavior is allowed in a public space. â€œYelling in a library is disruptive, but yelling or screaming in a park is a different matter,â€ she said. Schuster said homeless people should have the same protections as others and that the city already has rules against disruptive conduct. VIDEOS & TWEETS: Below are some relevant videos and Tweets from Monday night’s meeting:
At protest at Burien city hall against ordinance 606 banning using public bathrooms for tooth brushing, shaving etc. pic.twitter.com/IyOmEja9Ai â€” Josh Kelety (@Josh_Kelety) February 24, 2015
Activists rally at Burien city hall for homeless rights http://t.co/QkofCDOM3q pic.twitter.com/5DA9bTvYzK â€” Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) February 24, 2015
pic.twitter.com/Wv8R77ZXZt â€” CM Lauren Berkowitz (@BurienBerkowitz) February 24, 2015]]>
I thought John Potrias represented the “quiet majority”.
Oh boy, Lauren Berko- is the new saint and savior of all things that bring her and her minions attention. How about she leads the procession of her fan club right out of town for the good of the rest of us. Wish wish, poof be gone!
Yes, poof, and let’s hope they take all their homeless heroin addicts with them back to Seattle, where they belong.
Apparently everyone in America should have a house and the tax payer should pay for it?
Apparently these vagrants, their council member advocate Lauren Berkowitz (the only one) and the groups that showed up could care less that the rights of the residents which are being violated by the vagrants.
They apparently feel entitled to everything that the rest of us have to work and pay for. That in effect is communism or very close to it.
Is that what Lauren and her cadre of unruly vagrants are pushing for?
I just don’t get it.
I wonder how many of them took a homeless person home last night?
The following quotation and bumper sticker sums it all up.
“Work harder, millions on welfare depend on you”
I haven’t got my self out of bed at O Dark Thirty for my lengthy working career because I was waiting for someone to step up and take care of me. Got an addiction, seek help. Need mental health care, seek help. Stand around on a street corner able bodied for a full working shift, your on your own because I do not support addiction or laziness. I give to charitable organizations who offer support for those among us needing help because my money gets used for more than a drink or hit. Go ask Saint Lauren, not me.
Nice way to scare people. Yell SOCIALISM or COMMUNISM – what is Saint Ronny Reagan in Office?
Empirical data from Red State Utah proves that giving the homeless a home first then working on their issues (job, mental health, addiction, etc) works.
Best part about it is that is actually SAVES taxpayer money.
Thank you Council Member Berkowitz for having a heart in this issue and going with empirical data.
This ordinance should have been called the “Sweep the problem under the rug” solution to homelessness. If we don’t see it we don’t have to think about it.
This Ordinance is similar to so called “Poll taxes” of yester-year.
Have a heart Burien, Valentines day just passed.
You make too much sense. The down thumbs will vote you off the blog, again. And me too. They don’t like those who don’t go along with the mob.
All this conflict comes from a silly ordinance and how to correct it and the blog critics criticize the only council member who voted against it in the first place.
We don’t vote comments off the page, they’re still on it, hidden. We just don’t want your ignorance polluting it.
How many.vagrants have invited over to your home Joey?
Or voluntered to be the washroom attendant at the library?
My thanks to all those who stood up and opposed this group of protesters!
It was not an assault on the homeless, or the disadvantaged. This ordinance in question was simply a law in regards to public property. One is not allowed to damage it or pose a danger to citizens within it. It was just an ordinary public nuisance legislation that wasn’t extraordinary, it was an attempt to keep our public area safe and unharmed, to provide a library that children as well as adults feel safe and to enjoy it without worries.
I honestly can’t understand why people won’t focus on the issue at hand. People are creating an unsafe/hostile environment and the city is addressing the problem. The fact that so many people in our community say they can’t go to many public places out of fear says that the police aren’t involved enough as it is.
Just because you’re homeless doesn’t give you the right to terrorize our city. Addiction doesn’t give you the right to use drugs right outside a library or kids spray park. It doesn’t give you the right to fight and scream at kids at these locations which happens on a regular basis.
Many homeless people have heartbreaking issues they need help with. I believe there are many people here that would help them if it meant getting them in a stable environment AND they did just as much work to help themselves. This ordinance isn’t attacking homeless people. Homeless people are attacking our community and the safety of our kids in public places. It’s about their horrible behavior, not about them being homeless.
Ironically if Berowitz was looking for support from the media that plan kind of backfired when a couple of unruly vagrants threatened the KOMO 4 news team.
They had to call the police for help. Not an ideal way to garner support from the media when you make the residents point for them. Lol
Wow, just watched a few of the videos. These “support” groups are just a bunch of thug bullies looking for a cause. This was an easy target. They have no useful purpose here. Just a bunch a grandstanding for attention without an agenda. There are so many real causes out there that need people like this. I hope they can get themselves focused and on the right track. They have the passion which is admirable but they don’t have a purpose yet.
my opinion…All the Burien citizens that were at the meeting that are supporting the Burien homeless and own homes, should allow the homeless into them, Hire and pay them to do random tasks, then let them use their bathrooms, eat their food and see what happens. I bet they would change their minds real quick. I am tired of getting accosted by by beggars looking for free handouts. I am a Burien resident and a business owner. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am now, I’ve had my share of times having to barely scrape by, but I learned to manage my money and time so I don’t have those problems anymore. I agree that if they can stand outside all day begging then they can find jobs, they are capable. There’s plenty of “Now Hiring” signs and free help for their other problems. Make them pay taxes on the money/free handouts they get, everyone else has to pay taxes, why shouldn’t they? That way they can support other homeless just like the rest of us. Tell them to move on or Put them to work,picking up garbage on the streets, pulling weeds, cleaning parks, doesn’t matter, they need to pull their weight if they want to be a local resident. And a note to the homeless girl brushing her teeth, quit using your money to buy all those tattoos, maybe you’ll have enough for rent.
I fully support your commentary on the subject but I wonder about double taxation and the fact that without a W-2 how would the IRS know which part of the pie to return to our State for the distribution to to their compatriot”s on the street? Now that’s funny!
I agree with making people productive, but if a homeless person can’t bathe and shows up to a job reeking like b.o., they more than likely won’t get the job. Catch 22. However, a library is a place for people in the community to share books and to go to read. It is not a public bath house nor a daytime homeless shelter.
Sadly many of the comments here confuse the homeless with the obnoxious and intimidating teens and young adults who haunt the library and the adjacent park.. They are a totally different group from the homeless. I understand why citizens are upset with them.
It is sad to see anonymous letters that refer to the homeless as lethargic, drug addled vagrants. To be sure some are but many – even most – are people who have lost jobs, homes and often family through no fault of their own. The cruel tone of many of the letters is sad and embarrassing.
I do suggest to the “moderator” that he replace the unfortunate policy of removing blogs, many of them challenging and interesting, because of “low ratings” with a policy of removing blogs because of they are anonymously written. If you have the courage of your convictions stand by them
Tom we are always open to new ideas when it comes to comments.
FYI we did a trial run where we stopped allowing pseudonyms and anonymous comments, and unfortunately, all commenting stopped entirely. We switched back (and added up/down voting) after receiving much feedback from Readers who wanted us to allow for “whistle blowers” to leave comments that, if their identities were revealed, might hurt their jobs.
We also tried using Facebook comments, but a lot of our Readers complained that they don’t use FB, or didn’t want their identity published.
Please note that we do moderate comments more closely than we ever have before, and we do not approve any that we consider uncivil. Our full policy is at http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/comment-policy/.
But again, we’re open to ideas so please email me any suggestions/ideas: email@example.com.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I guess some vitriol is better than none at all.
As far as removing comments tho. I have read and reread Joey’s blog and others like it that have been removed. Most of them are anything but uncivil. Unpopular to be sure but well written. I often don’t agree with Joey but he is a thoughtful guy. He deserves to be heard. Tom T
Just to clarify, Joey’s Comment(s) were never “removed,” they were just voted “down” enough by others to change it so you have to click a link to read it.
This is part of our experiment in allowing Readers to vote up or down. Not perfect at all, but we think it allows for Readers to become a bit more active in the ongoing conversation.
The problem we’re facing â€“ along with thousands of other websites that allow commenting â€“ is that the number of commenters has increased drastically, allowing new “trolls” and Readers to gang up on others.
Perhaps we’re allowing bullying but other than turning comments off…what do you think is the solution? Maybe we shouldn’t allow up/down voting at all?
The way you have it is just fine Scott!
Only 11% of the people in Burien ever donated to Berkowitz’s election campaign and likewise only about only 11% of the people in the 2/23/15 council meeting audience were supposedly homeless and other meeting attendees from Burien. The rest were outside, imported agitators/shills from Seattle of other parts of the County. And while Berkowitz might seek to say that she didn’t organize the mob protest, her campaign manager and treasurer was out in the crowd helping with the organizing. He is the treasurer and part organizer for 15 Now PAC which is highly funded and staffed by the Socialist Alternative Party. He has organized many rallies like the one Burien saw last night. Berkowitz did highly promote, speak to the media in advance and advertize this rally on her Twitter site. During the Council meeting she took copious pictures of the events which she posted on her Twitter site during the council meeting and she left the council meeting several times to meet with her mob rally fans outside to give thanks and receive adorning comments from them, Is this the role of a council member during council meetings that citizens are paying for? Or is organizing mob rallies or the the ACLU against the city or her other council members any time she doesn’t get her way her elected role?
Ms. Berkowitz was promoted and funded by outside interests for her Council position. It appears she is running the agenda of the Socialist Alternative Party in Burien even though she failed to disclose that to voters during the election. This is an organization of Marxist and Trotskyist political worshipers and their position is, “Any Socialist elected to office has two tasks. One is to be the prophetic and militant minority and the other is to constantly work on radical agitation and socialist education.” So can Burien citizens ever expect Berkowitz to work on what were the goals and priorites they said they wanted for the city or will she only work on the Party’s tasks? Is this who Burien citizens thought they voted for and the agenda they wanted for their city? It is time to wake up Burien voters because this is what you most likely have in Berkowitz and the parade of protesters, thugs and non resident demonstrators she plans to use to derail the Council’s work during her term in office.
Ordinance 606 or 621 were never about the homeless. They were about trespass and criminal behaviors. Please note the issue of smell was removed from the ordinance even though the Berkowitz mob kept saying it still existed and needed to be appealed.
Jackie: Thank you for your informative post. I wish more Burien residents were aware of just who Lauen Berkowitz really is and her true motives. I also wish there were some way to get rid of her before the next election cycle.
Commenting has been closed due to uncivil behavior.
Scott: I suggest keeping both the thumbs up/down and the offending letters. It’s all about free speech.
Ms. Jackie and Mr. Question: I don’t think that tar, feathers or any dramatic tools will be necessary to effect removal. This councilperson shot herself in the foot Monday night. The electorate will take care of the job when her term is up.
That election cycle couldn’t come around soon enough, good riddance L.B.
It sure didn’t look like there were many actual homeless people there at all. Just a bunch of socialist activists, trying to confuse people about what the ordnance really says.
They’re like the little yapping dog that nobody really pays any attention to for the most part. Little patchouli smelling annoying dogs.
Don’t underestimate them, however. Their special interests are NOT in your favor.
I found it amusing while watching the video of Ms. Duncan from Skyway and her toothbrushing peers. Notice the young lady in the shower cap behind Ms. Duncan…..she must be adorned in hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of body art…….but she can’t afford a home. Hmm maybe she should adjust her priorities and she could afford some housing, I also noticed several of the homeless appeared to be quite well dressed. I also noticed this morning the young man at the off ramp of 128th & 509 with his homeless / need money sign, I also noticed his $100 + dollar Air Jordans. I do have empathy for the truly homeless, down on their luck people, but the lazy “professional” homeless dampen my empathy for the rest.
This is why I never give these people money if any thing give them some food but even then some won’t accept it. The easiest way to get the so called home less and spare changers to move on is by not handing them cash or change . Also reporting them to a manger or supervisor if there in a front of a store or other business. If ever other person gives them even a dollar with in a couple of hours they could have a couple hundred dollars .
Allow me to add to your concerns about the selective process that some panhandlers employ when offered free food items.
I wrote this same story last Summer in response to the original issue at hand about the Annex park problem. A story I read some time ago mentioned a social experiment which happened in Seattle.
A man approached a deli owner in Pioneer Square and struck up a deal where he would hand out fifty “50” free sandwich vouchers from that deli to panhandlers on the street nearby and cover all costs of one’s redeemed. Not a single one was ever returned to the deli, spare change was a more sought after commodity proving in that instance that the addiction to their choice of vices far outweighed their need for free food. It’s much like the signs at the zoo, “don’t feed the ———–” Now settle down! I give to charitable organizations because I refuse to feed addiction at stop lights, and I encourage you to do the same. Addiction is like a snake, cut the head off and the snake goes away.
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