‘Compassion Seattle’ appeal dismissed by Washington court; measure does not appear at nov. vote

“Today’s rejection of our emergency appeal proposal means Seattle voters must change who is responsible if they want a change in the city’s failed approach to tackling the homelessness crisis,” organizers wrote in a statement. “Although we are deeply disappointed, we will continue to share evidence that our method of change can make a necessary and noticeable difference for those who live unprotected in our parks and other public spaces.”

After a lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Seattle / King County Coalition on Homelessness and Transit Riders Union, King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer appeared in front last week and said it would be in conflict with state law and was not within the scope of a voting initiative.

At the time of the ruling, organizers of the controversial charter change – backed by over $ 1 million in donations from major real estate and business organizations in the city – said they would not appeal, noting that the decision would not be made in time for the November general election. Instead, they urged supporters to “change who is in charge at City Hall.”

But those organizers turned the tide on Tuesday with the emergency call, hoping once again to get the election initiative in November, where voters could weigh how the city is handling the homelessness crisis.

The amendment, which garnered 64,155 signatures from Seattle voters over the summer to qualify for the November referendum, was intended to create an additional 2,000 units in emergency or permanent residences and expand behavioral health services for mental health and substance abuse.

Once the shelter was made available, the change would also have required the city to keep “parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces and sidewalks and streets open and free of camps.” Lawyer groups like the ACLU have rejected the amendment, saying it would codify camp sweeps and only reduce signs of visible poverty without focusing on permanent housing solutions.

“Destruction of harmless people’s homes and mixing throughout Seattle has only exacerbated the region’s housing crisis and pushed more of our neighbors onto the city streets. It has no place in our city charter,” the ACLU wrote. “The government’s destruction of people’s homes and property when they have nowhere else to go is neither compassionate nor effective.”

The change has also been controversial among politicians in the upcoming election. Former Seattle City Council President and Interim Mayor Bruce Harrell has signaled his support for the change, while current Council President Lorena Gonzalez is opposed to the measure.

As the measure was now out of the November vote, the initiative’s supporters gave a final appeal to voters to choose candidates who would take steps towards homelessness.

“Our work has raised this issue – arguably the most consistent for Seattleites – at the forefront of this election for both candidates and voters. We will hold candidates accountable for their position on this crisis and their plans to address it, and urge voters to to elect new leaders who will move Seattle forward and not maintain the status quo, “Compassion Seattle wrote.” Seattle voters, you have the power to make a difference in November in who you elect as mayor, as city council attorney and to city council. “

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