Seattle mayoral candidate calls on city to implement homeless initiative struck from ballot

Sep 9, 2021, 2:04 PM | Updated: Sep 10, 2021, 6:13 am

Bruce Harrell, fundraising campaigns, Compassion Seattle...

Mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A proposed homelessness initiative from Compassion Seattle may have been struck down by a judge last month, but mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell still believes that components of the measure are worth a second look.

Judge strikes Compassion Seattle homeless amendment from ballot

The initiative would have amended Seattle’s city charter to mandate an additional 2,000 shelter beds or permanent housing units within a one-year period by waiving building permit fees, treating housing permit applications as “first-in-line” for expedited treatment, and refunding to the payee the city’s portion of the sales tax paid for these facilities. It also would have placed a requirement on the city to “ensure that parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces, and sidewalks and streets remain open and clear of encampments.”

Despite gathering enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, a King County judge ruled that the initiative would have circumvented Seattle’s homeless response processes, overriding the authority of state and city lawmakers, and violating a joint agreement already in place between the city and the nascent King County Regional Homeless Authority.

For Harrell, the initiative’s failure was less about its merits and more based on going through the proper channels.

“The contents are what’s most important to me,” he told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show. “I think it our will help the homeless and help residents in this city.”

Large donations to ‘Compassion Seattle’ dwarf all other races

Harrell also addressed an open letter to city councilmembers on his campaign website. He is calling on them to incorporate parts of Compassion Seattle’s initiative into the city budget this November, encompassing a minimum 12% investment in homeless response efforts, and “reflecting the core mandate of the proposed amendment.”

Further clarifying his position on KIRO Radio, Harrell cited a need to emphasize funding sources for the proposal, which was one of the primary criticisms voiced by opponents of the measure.

“When opponents of the charter amendment said it was an unfunded mandate, I said we will find that money to do it,” he noted. “That’s what a good mayor does — we will make the right investments, and get people off the streets and into housing.”

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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Seattle mayoral candidate calls on city to implement homeless initiative struck from ballot