Supporters file appeal to get Compassion Seattle homeless measure back on ballot

Aug 31, 2021, 11:58 AM | Updated: 1:18 pm

Seattle homeless Denny Park...

A homeless encampment at Denny Park in South Lake Union. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

The head of the Downtown Seattle Association, Jon Scholes, announced that the DSA, along with other supporters, are filing an emergency motion of appeal with the Washington Court of Appeals for the Compassion Seattle charter amendment.

As of now, when Seattle voters fill out their ballots this November, the Compassion Seattle charter amendment to address homelessness is not going to be on there. It was struck down by a King County judge who said it went beyond the scope of the initiative process, even though she agreed with its intent.

“We disagree with the judge’s ruling and her interpretation,” Scholes told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “We did appreciate that she noted, as a voter, she liked the substance of the measure. We think voters should have their say on this [in] November. It’s the number one issue in our city. It’s at a crisis level.”

“And so today, we’re actually filing an emergency motion of appeal with the Washington Court of Appeals to seek a stay of last week’s decision that removed the charter amendment from the November ballot,” he added. “And we’re asking the court to make a quick decision here this week so that voters can have their say on this.”

One of the problems for the charter amendment was that there was no funding mechanism, but Scholes is confident that the funding is there.

“There is plenty of money in our city, plenty of money coming from the federal government to address this crisis. What we’ve lacked is a coherent strategy and plan to invest in emergency housing and treatment that we know the people that are outside suffering in parks and other public spaces need,” Scholes said. “We’ve seen bickering and dysfunction among the elected officials that have been in charge of this crisis over the last six years since it was declared an emergency in our city.”

“So money has not been out problem, lack of investment and focus and accountability on the interventions that we know work have been,” he continued. “Elected officials have had their say, we believe it’s time for voters to have theirs. And we hope the Court of Appeals agrees.”

What went wrong for Compassion Seattle’s homeless initiative?

Whether or not the amendment is on the ballot come November, however, Scholes says homelessness is still on the ballot.

“There are candidates in this race that want to continue to perpetuate the status quo, which has resulted in the crisis we all see across our city and parks and public spaces, and there are candidates that have embraced the charter amendment approach, so the voters should take notice,” he said.

Compassion Seattle released the following statement on Tuesday:

This morning, Compassion Seattle’s lawyers filed an emergency motion of appeal with the Washington Court of Appeals seeking a stay of last week’s decision to remove Charter Amendment 29 from the November ballot. If granted, voters will have their say on a critically needed measure to address the number one issue facing Seattle — a measure that has majority voter support.

As we said last Friday, we strongly disagree with Judge Catherine Shaffer’s decision to strike Charter Amendment 29, a decision that blocks Seattle voters from being able to voice their opinion about the continuing crisis of homelessness. The Judge’s decision caused an outpouring of support over the weekend from supporters who want us to press on with an appeal. We decided that we must take this action to represent the interests of tens of thousands of voters who signed petitions to put this amendment on the ballot.

The people of Seattle deserve their say on how City Hall should be addressing this worsening crisis, and we will do everything we can to make that happen, whether by fighting for a vote on this Charter Amendment or by holding the candidates for Mayor, City Council, and City Attorney accountable for their positions on homelessness.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Supporters file appeal to get Compassion Seattle homeless measure back on ballot