BurienOrdinance606Excerpt-2 Click image to see larger version.[/caption] Ordinance #606, passed by the Burien City Council on Aug. 18 (read our original coverage here) has been raising quite a stink lately, garnering international media attention for our little city’s controversial new rule. The ordinance – which passed 6-1, with Lauren Berkowitz the lone “No” vote – permits police to issue trespass warnings to people with “Bodily hygiene or scent that is unreasonably offensive to others” as well as other “disruptive behavior.” Many residents believe this ordinance was created to deal with a homeless population that was gathering at Annex Park, as well as people who frequent the library and city hall building. However, several media outlets have twisted this nearly month-old story into click-baiting headlines like “The police can now ticket anyone who smells bad” and “The city of Burien, Washington has passed a new law that makes having an offensive body odour illegal in public parks, library, city hall” and “Don’t forget to put your deodorant on before you come into the City or else…” Here’s KIRO-TV’s report, in which the American Civil Liberties Union says it believes the ordinance is unconstitutional because it appears to single out homeless people: “Rules regarding odor and hygiene are not new, in fact KCLS (the King County Library System) and other public agencies also employ similar rules and have done so for some time,” the city said in a statement (another explanatory PDF is here) issued due to media attention. “If the scent is disrupting the use of the library, staff approaches the patron, explains the problem and ask them to leave the library, while encouraging them to visit the library as soon as the problem is corrected. Staff treats all hygiene and scent issues equitably, keeping in mind that strong perfume and cologne can be as offensive and even more impactful on people with allergies as offensive body hygiene can be to others.” The city added:

“Burien’s policies must also be consistent with constitutional rights and protections (speech, assembly). The ordinance explicitly recognizes that members of the public have legitimate interests and rights regarding the use and enjoyment of City and other publicly owned property. An essential and indispensable feature of the ordinance is its guaranteed right of appeal.”
Here are some recent Tweets about the subject:
We’re wondering what YOU, the residents of Burien, think of this ordinance? Please take our Poll below:
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Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

20 replies on “POLL: What do you think of Burien's controversial 'anti body odor' ordinance?”

  1. After reading some of the articles being circulated around the web concerning this topic I was reminded by more than one of them the now famous quote of our own Lauren Berka-itz. She, and only she voted against the ordinance and said something along the line of “I have no problem with the homeless washing their clothes in the sink at the City Hall/Library building” Well, I do as that is not the place for such tasks and with the abundance of laundymats in Burien one may just have to pony up some of than panhandled coin and use one of them and forgo your drink or drug addiction for the sake of doing laundry like the rest of us who don’t want to stink or get rightfully trespassed. Hey it sucks having to step up the the plate, join the party or pay the price.

  2. If this ordinance is not a violation of the due process clause, it hard to think of what is. It is almost impossible to see how this ordinance would be enforced evenhandedly. (Rich folks sometimes stink too, maybe just a “different” stink, but they, unlike the homeless, will never be cited.) Hopefully Burien will not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to prove me right.

  3. Having COPD there are times when strong scents are really tough. Usually it is cologne/perfume that effect my ability to get my breath. Not saying that tickets need to be issued but a polite word to the ‘offender’ might help everyone enjoy public places.

  4. I wish they would pass an anti meth addict ordinance. I you get arrested more then once for doing or being on Meth, the city should permanently remove you.

  5. One’s odor can’t be “unreasonably offensive”. I guess it is O K to be reasonably offensive.
    And I guess this ordinance is just reasonably silly.

  6. At some point the leaders of Burien need to come to the realization that Burien has a homeless population. The question is, What do we do with them? Transform Burien is a group of local churches that has been trying to deal with they problem but there is only so much they can do. People who don’t like or don’t understand the homeless want to say that Transform Burien is making the problem worse by helping the homeless. The Burien Evangelical Church was allowing a father and his kids to spend the night on church grounds. They were respectful and took care of their “temporary home”. They helped with the outside work of the church. By the way, they have been Burien residence for a long time. They simply hit hard times and had no place to go. A story on this blog made it sound like the people were jumping over the fence from the church to camp in the park. Actually just the opposite was true. Some of the homeless was leaving the park to stay at the church. By the way, the father and sons were reunited with another family member and now live in a real home. Are all stories like this a success? Absolutely not, but, if Burien continues to turn a blind eye to its homeless or pass vague laws that target groups of people then we are never going to get a handle on the problem.

    1. FYI…the idea of homeless jumping over the fence came directly from a statement from City Manager Kamuron Gurol, who said:
      “Overnighters at the church appear to have been climbing the fence and using the park during the day. City staff has spoken to church staff, and that conversation needs to continue.”
      (from http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/2014/08/22/city-issues-statement-about-homeless-problem-in-buriens-annex-park/)

      1. Like I said before during another Blog article – They had a ladder set up against the fence separating the two properties for ease of commute.

    2. Geez Greg,
      That Transform Burien thing sounds like a lot of work. Isn’t it easier just to demonize the destitute and have the police harass them into someone else’s area?
      Maybe we can get a homeland security grant and put a border type fence around Burien.

  7. Not a proper way to help our homeless or mentally ill population. A few years ago I contacted Burien city hall trying to find help for a family on our street that I felt were in dire circumstances through mental health issues, no sanitation in their home, burying their garbage in their yard etc. I was told bluntly that people had a right to live however they wanted and I should mind my own business. I was searching for ways to help them but apparently Burien is only interested in driving them from the public eye – and nose. For shame.

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