MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Group of parents files lawsuit over planned homeless shelter in vacant Kirkland hotel

Apr 1, 2022, 8:12 AM

homeless Kirkland hotel shelter...

A vacant La Quinta Inn in Kirkland. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

A group who says they represent local parents has filed a lawsuit against King County and the City of Kirkland over plans to convert a vacant La Quinta Inn into a homeless shelter.

King County moving forward with plan to convert Kirkland hotel into homeless shelter

The group called “Keep Kids Safe” claims that the city ignored state and county laws when it purchased the hotel, and that the county should have been required to have a public meeting regarding the intended use of the property.

The former hotel is located near State Route 520 on the south edge of Kirkland, marking the latest site added to the county’s Health Through Housing initiative. As part of that effort, the county has already purchased nine other former hotel properties, spanning Auburn, Federal Way, North Seattle, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne, Redmond, and Renton.

When it first became known that the county was considering the Kirkland site for its next shelter space, several residents expressed concerns over its proximity to at least four schools, as well as the area’s status as “a major hub for several businesses” along the border between Kirkland and Bellevue.

Those concerns sit at the core of the lawsuit filed this week.

“We are absolutely supportive of finding solutions for the homeless crisis but feel the risks of locating so close to all of these schools and a daycare need to be carefully considered in an open public process by both King County and the City of Kirkland prior to approval,” parent Susie Kupferman said in a press release. “That did not happen.”

Pushback against hotel homeless shelters in King County has been prevalent for years, with similar complaints voiced by residents in Renton and Redmond. In the former, Renton City Council went so far as to pass a bill in 2020 to evict the residents of a homeless shelter housed inside a former Red Lion Hotel. The city and county eventually came to an agreement to stand up a new shelter inside a former Extended Stay America hotel, albeit with half the capacity of the Red Lion space.

UW researchers see ‘compelling’ results from bringing homeless into hotels

In Kirkland, local leaders are hoping to work with the community to develop what’s commonly known as a “Good Neighbor Agreement.” In the past, cities like Seattle and Bellevue have adopted these pacts to establish guidelines for security, crime prevention, shelter intake processes, increase police patrols, and provide resources that point unhoused individuals toward alternate shelter facilities when hotel spaces are at capacity.

That process will kick off with a series of public meetings set for this spring. Once an agreement is in place, the plan is to have residents move into the shelter starting in 2023.

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Group of parents files lawsuit over planned homeless shelter in vacant Kirkland hotel