On Friday, Mar. 8, 2024, the City of Burien issued a statement in response to the King County Sheriff’s Office directive to not enforce the city’s public camping ordinance.

The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) this week advised its deputies against enforcing Burien’s public camping ordinance, “which is a breach of the interlocal agreement for contracted law enforcement services provided by King County to Burien,” the city said.

According to the contract for police services, if there is disagreement regarding a contracting city’s “procedure, policy, goal or operation” the solution is not unilateral action by King County, its Sheriff, or members of the KCSO, rather the parties shall negotiate to reach a final determination.

“The Sheriff’s refusal to follow the contract is a violation of the contract terms,” the city added. “Additionally, it is the Burien’s City Manager who has ‘the general duty and responsibility of providing the assigned police chief with general direction relative to the furnishing of law enforcement services to'” Burien.

“At this time, the King County Sheriff’s Office will not enforce on the public camping portion of Burien Municipal Code (BMC 9.85.150), until the constitutionality of the ordinance is resolved,” the county said. “All criminal code violations will continue to be enforced. We expect to have completed an analysis of the legislation early next week and will provide an update to Burien at that time.”

The county appears to be concerned over the legal issues this ordinance might raise.

“We have substantial concerns that Burien’s new ordinance violates binding federal case law,” King County said in a statement. “Because Burien adopted its ordinance on a highly accelerated timeline, there was no opportunity to address the serious constitutional issues raised by this ordinance.” 

Here’s more from the city:

“The KCSO’s unilateral decision amounts to King County claiming the authority to decide the constitutionality of existing laws and potentially politicizing an important public safety issue. This ordinance remains the same in terms of scope as the ordinance the Sheriff stated on November 3, 2023, was a policy decision of the Burien City Council and that Burien Municipal Code 9.85.150 “has not been found to be inconsistent with applicable court cases or law.” The ordinance adds no greater exposure than what existed in the previous versions of the ordinance. The only increased limitation is not from the ordinance but from a map that places a reasonable limitation on where the unhoused may rest if there are no shelters, treatment facilities, or beds available to them.  

“Burien’s public camping ordinance was initially adopted in 2023 and amended on March 4, 2024 (Ordinance 832). While Burien actively strives to ensure outreach and services are offered before enforcement, and encourages the KCSO to contact service providers, if an individual refuses the available shelter and refuses to leave public property after repeated contact with service providers they could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“Burien will work with the Oversight Committee to redress the situation using remedies available under the existing contract.”

King County Responds

King County issued this response on Friday afternoon, Mar. 8, 2024:

“King County is reviewing the homeless camping ordinance that was passed by Burien City Council this week to determine how to manage the next steps from a law enforcement perspective. We have substantial concerns that Burien’s new ordinance violates binding federal case law. Because Burien adopted its ordinance on a highly accelerated timeline, there was no opportunity to address the serious constitutional issues raised by this ordinance.  At this time, the King County Sheriff’s office will not enforce on the public camping portion of Burien Municipal Code (BMC 9.85.150), until the constitutionality of the ordinance is resolved. All criminal code violations will continue to be enforced. We expect to have completed an analysis of the legislation early next week and will provide an update to Burien at that time.”

Mayor Schilling Responds

Burien Mayor Kevin Schilling sent us the following statement:

“The City of Burien pays millions of dollars to the King County Sheriff’s Office with the expectation they will enforce our city codes and laws to keep the community safe and publicly accessible for all. Right now, the Dow Constantine appointed Sheriff is prioritizing politics over public safety. Burien is already wanting to examine our Interlocal Agreement with KCSO, as well as putting a public safety levy on the ballot. This situation will only expedite those discussions and begin conversations for how the City of Burien can receive services more specifically catered to our needs and our funding streams. This is the consequence of not having an elected county sheriff.  I’m disappointed in this undemocratic decision from Dow Constantine and the Sheriff to make decisions that override what Burien voters want.”

More information:

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

  1. Wow, Dow needs to go before this County fully implodes with idiocy like that. We can’t be hurting anyone’s feelings is the mantra and its obviously time to gather around the drum circle, burn sage and hum happiness.

  2. Actually, in all regards, ALL THIS is because of not following laws and rules, well established that worked well for decades. The truth of the matter boils down to upper echelons, who in times past have had family or friends, who “broke” certain laws and asked, for”favor”. Because of these “favors” become less inforced, re-written, tying law enforcement hands and having them to turn their backs against the written law, that established safe rules for engagement. This was all the more self evident during the covid/blm catastrophe. And now, those elected officials are hearing from the public, that “follow” the rules to the best of their ability, who pay their taxes, only to see our tax dollars and voices being over run, by bad policy’s and “power trippers”. What once was worked, sure it had flaws , but those flaws came about from “kings of what the saw them selves to be” . In Washington state one could start easily with Governor Christine Gregoire who served as the 22nd governor of Washington from 2005 to 2013. She helped release those, who should be locked up in mental institutions, which has snowballed into what we have now. Yes, there are good people and families that lost their jobs, homes and hope, which was exaberated by “No jab, No job” by most of all the government of what once was a great nation . But more over then naught, are those, who choose to live out side the law, and choose to cause chaos and harm even to those who are in the same boat, so to speak. I remember when the constitution said no taxation without representation. Now we govenors, that by hotels( but how many, we will never know and how much!!) To try and “fix” what they themselves broke. Nothing is free,and money don’t grow on trees!! House only those who are drug free, rap free who have children and seniors. Because court diversion don’t work. It used to be, “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”!!!

  3. Dow has overstepped as usual, he’s on the same civil downfall route as his no youth incarnation dream and needs to stop his failed utopian agenda.

  4. If the law is unconstitutional, KCSO should not help enforce it. A contract cannot be enforced if it causes a party to break the law.

  5. I demand an immediate end to the unwarranted pressure placed on our local police for simply upholding constitutional laws. Our focus should be on adherence to constitutional principles, not on divisive mandates from city officials. Adolfo Bailon’s insistence on defending this unconstitutional action is a gross misappropriation of city funds. Every dollar spent on the city attorney’s salary to support such unconstitutional measures is a waste of precious resources. Furthermore, criminalizing homelessness only exacerbates the issue and does not address its root causes.

  6. This entire camping ban is such an embarrassment. I fear every day for what happens if this actually gets enforced. What happens to the kid who gets kicked out of home with nowhere to go for a night? Will one of our concilmembers stand outside their tent and taunt them until the cops haul them off? Who wants to live in a place like that? Burien’s council has inflamed our reputations with Seattle and King County both; how is that good for Burien? How will that help address the underlying homeless crisis? And what, exactly, is our council’s plan for what happens to these people they force off the street? All I hear about is this morally reprehensible and constitutionally hazy “ban” but I don’t hear any of these “enough is enough” officials proposing any solution that will help address the crisis, instead of attacking the people who are suffering because of it.

  7. To Kevin Shilling,
    Are you suggesting that if our Sheriff was not appointed by our county executive we would not have to follow the constitution? That is disgusting.

  8. I don’t believe Burien really wants to help the homeless. Their hateful comments and how they treat the homeless. Burien just wants to do whatever they want without any restrictions. I grew up here and can’t beleave what this city has turned into. WE NEED JESUS and now!!!!

Leave a comment
COMMENT POLICY: Please use your real name and remain civil – no attacks. Since it's an election year, comments that campaign or complain about candidates will NOT be approved. Try writing a thoughtful, informed, intelligent comment that would make your Mom proud.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *