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City of Burien Continues to Clear Encampments Despite King County “Legal Threat”

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Dismissing Dow

In what may be one of the most defiant moments of the year, the #Burien business community and volunteers decided to ignore legal threats made by King County Executive Dow Constantine (@kcexec,) and proceeded to sweep a problematic homeless encampment on their own. No law enforcement showed up Thursday morning and it was completely orderly. This could be a playbook for other communities tired of being strong armed by #KingCounty.

It all depends on how Martin v. Boise is interpreted and applied. Back in 2018, the landmark ruling struck down Boise’s city-wide public camping ban because it lacked adequate emergency public shelter beds. Non-profit Burien Cares (@BurienCares) officially took over the lease for this plot of land and will turn this back into a dog park. Is this checkmate for Constantine or does he have another move?

Here We Go Again

Since Thursday morning’s sweep in downtown #Burien, many campers have relocated to Dottie Harper Park, just a few blocks away. It appears another sweep is imminent on June 6. The city is getting in front of these situations before it spirals out of control. Once again, Burien Planning Commission Chair Charles Schaefer admitting he’s the one advising the homeless on how to find plots of land in the city that may be clear and free from enforcement.

No sign of Councilmember Cydney Moore who encouraged homeless campers to take over the downtown park in March. Meanwhile, some of the campers at Dottie Harper are brandishing BB guns, brass knuckles, and knives for protection. Fentanyl and other drugs are being used by pretty much everyone on site. And yes, everyone here has rejected shelter and treatment options and are choosing to be out on the streets.

Next Sweep

The signs are already out at Dottie Harper Park. #Burien ain’t messing around.

Latest on the Ground

Burien News is reporting Councilmember Cydney Moore advised campers to move over to Dottie Harper Park. #Burien

“Campers told this reporter that I had just missed Moores’s visit to the new site.”

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.