Dozens of frustrated neighbors and business owners are mobilizing in Burien. They formed a coalition on Monday evening to address what they consider to be a failure on the part of city leadership to deal with public safety related to the homelessness crisis.
According to attorney John Kannin, the coalition is preparing to launch a class action lawsuit against the City of Burien to recuperate their losses due to a homeless encampment around city hall and the library.
Kannin says that taking legal action is “the only way to get any traction.”
Although it is set to be cleared by the end of the month, the encampment has been a thorn in the side of the city due to its open-air drug use, fires, and a recent string of property crimes and thefts.
“Anybody who’s lost out on use and enjoyment of the park is a potential plaintiff in the lawsuit,” Kannin tells me.
Burien resident Trevor Gage describes his city as “third world” and says it’s not a safe place to be at night.
Real estate broker Leslie Newman is one of the coalition organizers, and she’s inviting people to join her in taking action. She describes the new coalition as focused on “organizing around city accountability.”
Newman is encouraging fellow members of the coalition to attend city council meetings, support local candidates, and engage with their neighbors with the aim of bringing others into the conversation.
“It’s okay to agree to disagree,” says Newman, emphasizing the importance of civility when it comes to residents and business owners taking actions to reclaim their city.