UPDATE: This article has been updated with new information regarding the lawsuit being filed in Snohomish County.

The City of Burien announced on Thursday, Mar. 28, 2024 that it has filed a lawsuit against King County and the King County Sheriff’s Office for refusing to enforce any portion of Burien Municipal Code 9.85.150 and refusing to comply with the Interlocal Agreement’s dispute resolution process that every contract city agrees to with King County.

This latest salvo is the latest in an ongoing battle between the City of Burien and King County and its Sheriff over the constitutionality and enforcement of the city’s expanded camping ban, Ordinance 832.

Lawsuit Filed in Snohomish County

The lawsuit was filed on Mar. 27, 2024 in the Superior Court of Washington for Snohomish County (case #24-2-02338-31).

Several readers are wondering why the City of Burien, which is located in King County, would file a lawsuit all the way up in Snohomish County. Experts say that this may be a case of “forum shopping,” a term the Cornell Law School describes as:

“Forum shopping refers to the practice of pursuing a claim subject to concurrent jurisdiction in the court that will treat the claim most favorably. Forum shopping can occur between courts in different states, between federal and state courts in the same state, or between courts in separate countries. While forum shopping is still permitted under limited circumstances, the practice is generally discouraged in the modern legal system due to the Erie Doctrine and other conflict of law rules.”

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We reached out to the City of Burien for clarification on this, and they refused to answer, saying only:

“The content in the news release is the extent of what the City’s able to comment on at this time.”

‘Breaching the Interlocal Agreement’

“In breaching the Interlocal Agreement, King County has placed its judgment over that of Burien’s duly elected officials; denied the City of Burien its authority to assist and protect Burien residents, businesses, and property; prevented Burien’s City Manager from providing direction to the contract police as stated in the Interlocal Agreement; and interfered with Burien’s effort to provide guidance for the unhoused within the city’s boundaries,” the City said.

Mayor Schilling’s Statement

Below is a statement Burien Mayor Kevin Schilling sent us about this latest legal development:

“I’m proud that the City of Burien is raising concerns with the County and Sheriff in court over their actions related to our ILA. Burien pays the County Sheriff’s Department $16 million a year with the expectation that they enforce laws established by the City. In the time that the County Executive and Sheriff have not enforced our tent regulation, we have had multiple overdoses on the street, one that has led to a death.  The County’s focus needs to be  getting people off the streets and into shelter and services, wherever that may be. The decision by the County and Sheriff is just wasting taxpayer’s and voter’s time and money, and not helping folks on the street.”

More Information:

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  1. Excellent news, Dow and his minions signed a legal contract and one party doesn’t get to change the conditions of it without renegotiating.

  2. Burien should be working to come up with services that help the homeless instead of passing the buck and blaming our awesome police department. It is unconstitutional to do sweeps without providing housing and services. I am very disappointed in Burien!!!!

  3. I am very disappointed in our city of Burien. They are full of hate. It is illegal to do sweeps without providing a place to live. These are real people like you and me and should be treated with respect. If our city council would put their heads together and try, I am sure they can come up with a solution that will benifit everyone , home less or otherwise.

  4. Unless it’s a retaliation suit.
    Burien has ordered stop payment to KCSO
    Burien has threatened Chief Boe with replacement
    Burien has passed unconstitutional amendments.

    I say KCSO should walk. If Burien wants police they can hire their own

  5. Burien, we deserve better. Our city’s lawsuit against the County for upholding the Constitution is embarrassing. This isn’t the first frivolous lawsuit our City Manager Adolfo Bailon has pursued this year. Every citizen pays for this waste of time and resources. When this is settled, and the Constitution upheld, it’s clear: Bailon must go. #RemoveBailon #StandForConstitution

  6. Why was this filed in Snohomish County? (Why was this filed at all) Neither Burien nor King County are in Snohomish. This is just another attempt by the Burien Council to harass homeless people. This really makes them look bad, again.

  7. “one party doesn’t get to change the conditions of it without renegotiating” — yes, exactly. That is why KCSO is not bound to enforce a new law imposed by a few individuals before it is ruled constitutional to do so! That contract goes both ways!

  8. The KCSO filed the lawsuit to determine the constitutionality of the ordinance, as they cannot legally enforce unconstitutional laws. The city filed their lawsuit because they want the possibly unconstitutional law enforced. KCSO, not the King County Executive, made the decision to get a judge to review what they can and cannot do. Blaming the Executive for this is not logical. Perhaps the city should back off from what seems to be a very controversial approach to the problem of homelessness, and stop blaming the police for not being the bullies the city wants them to be.

  9. The city of Burien has known about the unconstitutional nature of the laws they are passing since at least 2017 when it was being brought up. And Dottie Harper park was full. They have spent/ wasted meetings and time and money trying to find away to sneak around Boise and Grant Pass rulings.

    Now you have a city manager who has made it personal between City and KCSO!
    City manager needs to stop watching Blue Bloods! As this reads like a script, Cops say stop, City says do it!
    City hall and Cops at war against eachother

  10. The King County Police don’t get to interpret Burien ordinances. They were contracted to provide police services to the city. If they refuse to enforce Burien laws, they should not be paid.

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