First up, Compassionate Seattle has changed the language in their charter amendment, adding a sunset clause so the amendment won’t remain in the charter in perpetuity and changing their language about sweeps. The new language is as follows:
It is the City’s policy to make available emergency and permanent housing to those living unsheltered so that the City may take actions to ensure that public spaces remain open and clear of unauthorized encampments. The City shall develop policies and procedures to address those individuals who remain in public spaces, balancing the City’s strong interest in keeping public spaces clear of encampments and the possible harm to individuals caused by closing encampments. While there is no right to camp in any particular public space, it is City policy to avoid, as much as possible, dispersing people, except to safe and secure housing unless remaining in place poses particular problems related to public health or safety or interferes with the use of the public spaces by others.
This appears to soften the amendment’s stance on sweeps, giving the serving Mayor discretion as to what kind of sweeps policy to pursue. However, given the downtown business donations to this charter amendment, it is apparent whose interests appear to be served by it.
Meanwhile, some disagreement has arisen as to where parking enforcement officers in Seattle shall be housed: the new Community Safety and Communications Center or SDOT. The workers themselves prefer the former option, and the Council followed their lead last year, but Mayor Durkan and SDOT prefer the latter. The parking enforcement officers were keen to be part of the new department in the hopes that they will eventually be allowed to take on additional duties that are currently performed by armed officers. This change of duties is, no surprise, subject to bargaining. While the Council has the power to decide where these workers will be housed, the Mayor’s office could make another obstructionist decision and slow down the development of the new department to show its displeasure.
Seattle Office of Police Accountability
And if you’re interested in some election news, mayoral candidate Colleen Echohawk is still ahead in the mayoral fundraising race, with Nikkita Oliver leading the pack in the District 9 race.
Washington State News
SB 5476, the bill in response to the Blake decision decriminalizing drug possession, passed the State Senate this week, although its sponsor Senator Dhingra opted to vote against it. The new amendment that Senator Dhingra objected to made possession a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Now the bill moves onto the House, which has indicated more willingness to leave drug possession decriminalized. If they do, then the two chambers will be forced to hash out a compromise. Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been filed to force Washington State and its counties to repay financial penalties for drug charges it has imposed in the past.
And with that, I will leave you to enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend!
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