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

On March 8, The B-Town Blog published the city of Burien, and Burien’s mayor, Kevin Schilling’s comments on the recent statement by the King County Sheriff’s office (KCSO) that it would not enforce parts of Ordinance 832, the “camping ban”.

This letter is intended as a reflection of a different view of Burien’s relationship to the Sheriff’s office, its contract and the responsibility of every person and organization, to try to do what is right and legal. 

We were both raised to value civil rights and the US Constitution as the guiding principles of our nation. These principles stand for the protection of people who often have the fewest other resources in place. As elected public servants, we took an oath to uphold the constitution. So if the constitutionality of an action is in doubt, we would like to see us err on the side of caution.

Some of the constitutional issues surrounding Ordinance 832 will be resolved in April.  While we did not personally support this ordinance, and voted against it, we fully understand that as a part of Burien’s seven person council, we were outvoted and the measure will come to pass. But if its enforcement may be unconstitutional, and a month will determine this, we do not understand pushing for preemptive action while waiting. 

Burien contracts with the KCSO for our police services. Like any contract, Burien has a set of tasks that the Sheriff fulfills. Unlike some other contracts, Burien, and any contracting city, is constantly altering the contract in a sense, by introducing and changing the specifics of its legal code, which the sheriff’s office must be updated on and some could argue, should be consulted on before changes are made – especially changes that are expected to be implemented immediately. 

The sheriff, meanwhile, also has responsibilities to comply with state and county law and with the United States Constitution. In recent conversations, they have expressed that they are not confident that all parts of the new ordinance are constitutional, and that they will not enforce those parts that come into question.

This has been framed as a political stance, because the sheriff is an appointed position. But the US Constitution is not political, it is the highest legal document in our nation, and it is surely the duty of any public official, such as a sheriff, to try not to act at odds with it. 

As a side note, we are baffled at the idea that an appointed sheriff is considered to be political and an elected one is not. For comparison, Burien’s city manager is appointed, its mayor and council is elected, and presumably it is the mayor and the rest of us councilmembers who are more engaged in the political world, whereas city staff are tasked with doing the executive tasks or running a city.

We call upon the city of Burien to work together with the Sheriff’s office in determining the constitutionality of this ordinance, rather than in demanding work that may violate it. Had our full council been informed of the discussion prior to the city releasing the statement in response, had we discussed it as a body, we would have made these thoughts known in that setting. We will seek the opportunity to do so at the next city council meeting, which will take place on March 18th. 

Councilmember Hugo Garcia
– Councilmember Sarah Moore

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 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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11 Comments

  1. Amazing that these council members suggest handing over law making to the Police. That smacks of police state thinking. And again, suggesting lawmakers work with police to determine constitutionality of an ordinance does more of the same! That’s for the courts. Do these council members not understand the principle of the separation powers?

    And to suggest that the sheriff under Dow Constantine is not political is laughable. Dow is always political as he tries to figure out where he’ll work in retirement since his attempt to be governor failed. He’s now trying to be the head of UW (won’t happen) so he has to placate the activists on this issue. But they are the minority just like on our council.

    What these council members should be doing is working with the majority on council to improve ordinances, not just voting no and then writing letters to the editors. Lawmaking take hard work and compromise. It shouldn’t be about clickbait.

  2. You two need to openly admit your political leanings and past votes are why we have ended up in the current situation, the remaining council members are trying to fix that damage.

  3. Im afraid burien people are getting restless and before long will take the law into their own hands. This has gone on ongoing enough we take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. If I ever have to smell fentanyl smoke again I will deal with it myself.

  4. Picking on the underprivileged, is so wrong in so many ways. Burien council members who show their mean side, and their harsh unkindness is uncalled for. I go into Burien from time to time from West Seattle. When passing these encampments and the R.V encampment I think glad I am not there, and hope for the best from them. I always carry some cash on me to share.

  5. Thank you for being voices of reason. Folks seem to be too busy marching with their pitchforks and torches to think rationally.

  6. I live here in Burien and feel like we no longer have a say the criminals have more rights then the tax paying law abiding citizen. We have to hide our kids. Telling them what they see is drug use and mental illness over years. I feel like I can’t leave a good city for my kids if this is the way we conduct our selves. Parks school yards side walks bus stops no where is a safe place. This is a shame and the decline for success. Thank you kindly

  7. My very liberal sisters in law visited us last weekend at our apartment in Town Square. They woke up to homeless people screaming f bombs at each other and yelling they were going to kill each other. They saw drug use outside the window. They also witnessed lawless behavior on the Big Lots steps. They refused to leave the building and would not go out to lunch on Saturday. They could hardly wait to leave.

    Is this what you want for Burien? I don’t believe that those council members wrote that letter. I have heard them speak. Someone else wrote it for them.

    My husband is a retired attorney. He said that the sheriff had no right to do this. Dump King County and their dictatorship. Why would we pay tyrants for poor services?

  8. The hands “homeless” issue has been mislabled and poorly handled by King County and the citys with in. These drug addicted scavengers have wercked havic on the working, tax paying, law abiding citizens unabated for a great many years. Why should these leaches have rights to steal and destroy public and private property? Allowing this is fair to no one. Drug treatment or jail should be their only options. The small percentage that need help due to conditions beyond their controll can than be helped but allowing the squaller, death, and destruction allowed and encouraged by many in Seattle and King county governments must come to an end. Enabling and rewarding street living makes no sence except to those profiting off of it. Burien has stood out by bravely saying NO to continuing the madness and should be aplauded for what they have done.

  9. THE TRUTH OF WHATS TO COME IF NOTHING IS DONE
    I am a long term Burien resident, (Parents/family grew up here and now my family) I don’t need to describe what has been and will continue to go on without law and order (boundaries) for the public. The homeless and criminals are getting more rights than the tax paying, law abiding citizens…. If there is no change to the 3rd world policies that’s being forced upon Burien, the local residents and other surrounding groups in Washington will make that change for the people. The police wont do anything due to political corruption… Thank god we live in the USA, I know I’ll be advocating and enforcing protection for the law abiding public if called upon, along with hundreds of others if nothing is done.

    The residents of Burien (non-homeless) are the ones living inside these 3rd world policies, and nobody can enforce protecting these policies as they can and will endanger the livelihood of law abiding people walking down the street, let alone using a public sidewalk or public park anywhere in Burien. I hope civil change, law, or some kind of policy is created asap or else this will end up with a much larger problem than the homeless.

  10. Hugo and Sarah are the heroes of Burien, Attempting to keep the others from taking us down a very expensive and unconstitutional road. We can’t just make up laws and insist that the police enforce them when they have been shown to be unconstitutional again and again. What is wrong with our city manager, Adolfo Bailon, and Mayor Kevin Shilling? Do they think the Constitution does not apply to them? Does it not apply to the city officials? Do they enjoy wasting money and effort on this failed policy? They ARE the embarrassment of the entire region and should resign/be removed from office now. Just shameful.

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