DORI MONSON

Attorney suing City of Olympia says city ‘gave town away to the homeless’

Jun 5, 2019, 5:48 PM

Olympia, City of Olympia...

Ann Buck built this wall and door to deter homeless campers from sleeping in front of her business in Olympia. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

A group of businesses is suing the city of Olympia for failing to mitigate crimes that they say are caused by the homeless encampments in the downtown core.

Attorney Jon Cushman said that for years, the city has turned a blind eye to homeless encampments on both public and private property.

“[The city] did not enforce trespass law, nuisance law, other legal vehicles by which they could have ejected and removed these trespassers,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “Instead, the city adopted a tolerance policy.”

What’s more, he said that the city of Olympia seemed to take the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Martin v. Boise decision last year — which ruled that the City of Boise violated the U.S. Constitution when it stopped people from camping on sidewalks and other public property — as a green light for actually setting up a city-sanctioned camp.

RELATED: Downtown Olympia business owner vs. Olympia’s drug problems

As a result, according to Cushman, business and property values have decreased for his clients, and crimes such as theft and vandalism have cost the merchants dearly. Tort claims filed by the businesses currently total about $1.75 million, but Cushman expects this number to go up.

“People don’t want to go downtown Olympia anymore,” Cushman said. “It’s unsafe, it’s unsightly, and it drives away customers, it drives away tenants — it simply reduces the quality of life for people living here, citizens who’ve lived here, some of them, for generations.”

He thinks that Olympia is attempting to act in the best interests of homeless people and appreciates this, but said that in actuality, the city’s actions are really hurting these people.

“I think that it is a misguided sense of charity — I think that they think they’re doing these people a favor by leaving them alone in the squalor and indignity of these camps,” he said. “And they’re not. They’re not helping these people.”

“They’re using taxpayer money to assuage their own conscience to think they’re doing good,” he added. “It’s always easier to do good using somebody else’s dime.”

Cushman observed that two camps were forced to shut down after the lawsuit was filed, but that the street campers have simply moved on to other areas.

“Our town is not the same,” Cushman said. “The city has participated in, basically, giving the town away.”

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Dori Monson stage show...

MyNorthwest Staff

Watch: Dori Monson’s ‘What are the Odds?’ stage show

In 2019, Dori Monson hosted a stage show - 'What are the Odds?' - which introduced you to the people who helped shape his improbable career.

2 years ago

Dori Monson welcomes the Moose back to KIRO. Follow @http://twitter.com/Mynorthwest...

MyNorthwest Staff

A collection of the all-time best Dori Monson stories

With the passing of Dori Monson, a collection of some of his top stories to remember all the hard work Dori brought to Seattle.

2 years ago

Alaska, fishing...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Listen: Friends, colleagues offer tribute to KIRO Newsradio’s Dori Monson

All day Monday, KIRO Newsradio's John Curley talked to friends, news makers, and more in tribute to Dori Monson.

2 years ago

Dori Monson Shorecrest...

Dori Monson Show

How to support charities reflecting Dori Monson’s values, passions

In tribute to Dori Monson, learn more about how you can support these three charities which best reflect his values, passions, and advocacy.

2 years ago

From left, Producer Nicole Thompson and KIRO host Dori Monson. (Courtesy of the Monson family)...

MyNorthwest Staff

Broadcasters, politicians, coworkers and friends remember Dori Monson

Dori Monson, a longtime KIRO Newsradio host, passed away Saturday. He is remembered by public figures, broadcasters, coworkers, and listeners.

2 years ago

Dori Monson...

MyNorthwest Staff

Longtime KIRO Newsradio host Dori Monson dies at age 61

We are deeply saddened to announce Dori Monson's sudden passing on Saturday, December 31, 2022, at a Seattle hospital.

2 years ago

Attorney suing City of Olympia says city ‘gave town away to the homeless’