By Jack Mayne
The old trespass law is gone, but there is a new one to take its place despite the sustained efforts of Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz.
Police Chief Scott Kimerer also told Councilmembers that Burien now ranked of 91st on the Safe Cities list.
At the Monday (July 20) Burien City Council session there was also a renewed concern about using social media while the group is in session, and whether a Council member can copyright her position.
Oh, and the unexpected quick start for the new Burien off-leash dog park.
‘Legal risk’ issues
At the beginning of the meeting Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said that â€œin light of our new understanding of some legal risk issues that require prompt consideration, there was the opportunity to add an item to the agenda.
At this, Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz moved to add â€œreconsiderationâ€ of the so-called â€œtrespassâ€ ordinances 606, later subsumed as Ordinance 621, which she and others have said criminalize homelessness.
The new proposal is â€œto clarify due process â€¦ for use of trespass warnings and whether there is a need to have this ordinance at all.â€ Councilmember Gerald Robison immediately seconded her motion.
The new ordinance, number 624, adds â€œdue processâ€ for those running afoul with its behavior terms.
Berkowitz said she did not support the new ordinance, even though it was better than having nothing at all, because it fixes the problem of due process for violators.
Get rid of it
The real answer, she said was â€œto get rid of it altogether.
Adding due process doesn’t solve her problems because parts are â€œunconstitutionally vague and also is mean spirited and â€¦ apparently is not being used that much so I think for the amount of controversy and poor branding image it has created for the city, it would be better to just repeal this ordinance in its entirety.
Even so, she said she would support the passage of the new version only â€œbecause â€œit is better than nothing.
So Ordinances 606 and 621 no longer exist in Burien, and Ordinance 624 unanimously replaces them?
Just as the new one was passed, Berkowitz said wait, wait. Now she said she wanted to dump all three â€“ the old ones and the brand new one.
“These do not address the liability of that is still existing”because it “unconstitutionally vague.”
That move failed 5 to 2, with Berkowitz and Robison the only two voting to remove the just-passed Ordinance 624.
Burien ranked 91st
In the Safe Cities Rankings, said Police Chief Scott Kimerer as he presented his annual report to the Council. Ranked above Burien were Shoreline, No. 52 and Des Moines, 16. Below Burien were SeaTac 105, Seattle No. 110 and Tukwila at No. 113. (See chart 1).
“That is a concern for us, we want a safe city, we want people to feel safe in the city,” Kimerer said, so he said they wondered how come the low ranking.
While the city went down in some measurements, violent crimes against people went up â€“ 32 percent â€“ â€œa tremendous increase â€¦ over an all-time low in 2013,â€ Kimerer said.
Even with that, a survey of crime data over 20 years showed the rates go up and down but there are no major shifts or trends revealed.
Kimerer said his department placed emphasis on several problem areas, including prostitution, difficulties at the 4th of July, in the downtown core and around the Safeway parking lot and with a new emphasizing on the use of social media.
With prostitution, the city joined with other police agencies on a multi-agency investigation that produced six arrest warrants served in Burien, 145 arrests for prostitution and â€œrelated offenses,â€ and a seizure of $150,000 in assets.
Emphasis in the downtown core came with reallocation of grant funds to support â€œextra patrols on overtime,â€ and targeting the downtown area and the Safeway parking lot with foot and bicycle patrols, â€œan extremely important tool â€¦ in the downtown area,â€ Kimerer told the Council.
As far as social media is concerned, a relatively new area for the Burien Police, Kimerer reported 1,250 â€œlikesâ€ on their Facebook page, they have 1,485 Twitter followers and Nextdoor.com that reaches 1,102 neighbors. The chief said one posting got 19,000 views about a man who was arrested and then turned his life around.
Kimerer says the same strategies will continue this year along with identifying and developing relations with service providers â€œto help police contracts of our most vulnerable in the community,â€
Copyright a city?
During citizen comment period, resident Chestine Edgar pointed to an email letter in the weekly Council packet written by Allison Ostrer that said she stood by “Berkowitz and oppose restrictions on free speech.”
She told the Council the letter was timed as sent at 11:18 a.m. but the letter Ostrer attached from Councilmember Berkowitz was timed as received by the writer at â€œ17:29â€ or 5:29 p.m., or six hours after the original appeared to have been sent to the Council.
Also, the letter attached has â€œcampaign materialâ€ in it, she said, pointing to a passage in the document where Berkowitz mentions three Council candidatesâ€™ names noting they have â€œprogressive values to move Burien forward, against such nonsense, and against the infamous Ordinance 606/621.â€
The comments were a violation of campaign practice and â€œnever should have been printed.â€
Chestine Edgar also noted that the document was marked as â€œCopyright Burien City Councilmember, Position 1, all rights reserved.â€
“I wasn’t aware there were people who had the right to copyright a City Council position” and wondered if the lengthy document had been submitted and â€œapproved by the Council to be sent,â€ as Council rules require.
Resident Roger Delorm picked up on the names of candidates in the letter in the packet.
“I believe it is in violation of fair campaign practices,â€ he said, adding, â€œNo Council person should be able to copyright a specific Burien Council position site as their own.”
Delorm, apparently referring to Berkowitz, said â€œthe Councilperson completely ignored (Council) rules and continued to write and publish, under an alleged copyright, inflammatory letters about Council topics that have been voted on and about individual Council members by name.â€
He said the Council needed to take action on these issues.
But resident Rachel Levine said there was an effort in the Council to â€œdenigrate the ability and â€¦ worthwhileness of one of your members,â€ apparently referring to Berkowitz. â€œWe are here to hear everything that everybody want to hear. I donâ€™t like the cutting down, the shutting down of the people that are coming here to speak. I don’t like it.
“I don’t like this organized vendetta against one of your members,â€ Levine said. â€œYou need to all stand up and defend that member.”
Dog Park Now
The Council approved the off-leash dog park in Lakeview Park and its name for one of the financial supporters, Burien Toyota and Chevrolet Dog Park for eight years. The city will move the project up to make it “functional”by the end of this year, instead of the previous start in 2017. Berkowitz first moved to not name the park after Burien Toyota, but the Council did not support that move, but later said she supported the need for the park and the Council unanimously approved the name agreement and the moving up money for the park work.