Homeless camping restrictions increase in Burien with new ordinance

Mar 6, 2024, 12:39 PM

homeless burien ordinance...

Burien homeless encampment near City Hall (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Burien City Council passed Ordinance 832 Tuesday, prohibiting camping in certain “protected and designated” zones around the city.

The council considered the anti-camping legislation as an “emergency ordinance,” citing “public health, safety and peace of the community,” according to Burien News.

Related news: ‘I have authority,’ Burien City Council member states during confrontation with homeless outside condo

“The City of Burien leads with services. We offer services at every possible avenue that we can whether it’s a city-directed service or it’s a service around the region,” Burien Mayor Kevin Schilling stated during the meeting in favor of passing the ordinance. “The public should know we’re leading with treatment, not tents. We want to get people into treatment and services, not keep them on the streets sleeping in tents.”

The now-passed ordinance claimed an amendment was necessary to clarify Burien’s existing anti-camping ordinance. Burien’s previous anti-camping ordinance, BMC 9.85.150, prohibited camping on public property with exceptions for unhoused individuals when no beds or shelters are available.

“Due to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of BMC 9.85.150, Burien now amends the ordinance to clarify further and enhance its effectiveness,” the agenda packet read.

The ordinance passed on a 5-2 vote

Now, with Ordinance 832 passing on a 5-2 vote, unhoused individuals are still allowed to camp in public areas from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. as long as there is no more available room in local shelters. But those same individuals are barred from setting up any tents or camps within 500 feet of libraries, schools, daycares and parks in Burien.

Mayor Schilling, Deputy Mayor Stephanie Mora and Councilmembers Jimmy Matta, Linda Akey and Alex Andrade voted for the new ordinance. Councilmembers Sarah Moore and Hugo Garcia voted against it.

“By and large, this looks like a way to essentially zone people out of the city entirely,” former Burien Councilmember Cydney Moore told KIRO Newsradio.

Moore voted against the original camping ban before losing council reelection this past election.

More on the homeless situation: Burien facing lawsuit over ordinance banning homeless encampments

“The proposal has come with a map that eliminates a vast majority of the city from being spaces on how people can camp,” Moore added.

The map can be seen here.

While the city is calling this just a clarification on its previous laws, homeless people have stated it’s one step closer to shoving them out of town entirely, according to KIRO Newsradio.

Around 30 people spoke during the session’s public comment, most of them against the amendment.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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