[EDITOR’S NOTEThe following is a Letter to the Editor, written and submitted by verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff.]

The King County Sheriff’s Office filed a Complaint in United States District Court of Western Washington (No. 2:24-cv-325) on March 11, 2024. I encourage everyone to read this document. The KCSO Complaint is poorly written, but more importantly never delineates in precise legal terms why they think that Ordinance No. 832 violates the Constitution. Most of the complaint is a “he said, she said” diatribe about the history of the actions of the City of Burien related to the Homeless population. Nowhere does it address the specific legal aspects of the Ordinance that make it unenforceable as well as (potentially) unconstitutional. 

The City of Burien’s response has been similarly amateurish. First, by claiming that the dispute could be resolved by referring a question of constitutionality to the Oversight Committee. Second, to suspending all payments for police services to King County for their refusal to enforce one minor aspect of policing – while extemporaneously a major and urgent social issue it is clearly not the only significant public safety issue we need to have as a concern. The actions of the City Council and City Manager in opposition Chief Boe and the Sheriff’s Office and against the police force in general cannot have anything but a chilling effect on the officers we depend upon daily for our safety. Are the City of Burien officials acting in the best interest of the citizens of Burien in the long run or are they failing to see the forest for the trees.

The KCSO complaint could have stated the specific Constitutional arguments, as clearly emphasized in oral arguments at SCOTUS regarding City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, as to whether Ordinance No. 832 criminalizes the state of being Homeless versus the acts of the Homeless. For example, the Complaint could have noted that:

  1. Ordinance No. 832 clearly makes it impossible to be in the state of being Homeless anywhere in Burien between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. and does not clearly designate where it is acceptable from one day to the next to be Homeless between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. 
  2. While Ordinance No. 832 states that the prohibition does not apply “if there is no available overnight shelter”, the Ordinance does not indicate or make provision for how law enforcement is to determine whether overnight shelter is available. 

Finally, in thinking about the “communications” between the KCSO and Burien City officials, which are occurring in the media and not in direct dialog, I am constantly reminded of the tagline from one of my all-time favorite movies, Cool Hand Luke:

What we have here is ‘failure to communicate‘.” 

– Glen Park
Burien resident

EDITOR’S NOTEDo you have an opinion you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to scott@southkingmedia.com and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full name, as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes). Read our updated Letter to the Editor policy here.

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

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