ELECTION 2021: Judge says Charter Amendment 29 shouldn’t go to voters

6:03 PM: The November election has apparently just lost its marquee measure. Opponents of homelessness-related Seattle Charter Amendment 29 have won a victory in their lawsuit to keep it off the ballot. King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled today that it “violated state law limiting the permissible scope of local ballot initiatives in many ways,” according to opponents, Their lawyer Knoll Lowney said, “The blunt tool of an initiative is not a way to address this complex and evolving crisis. The law recognizes this and so did the judge.” Supporters call their campaign Compassion Seattle. It would codify various city responses to the crisis and would allow encampment sweeps on public property if its requirements were met. The lawsuit against it was filed two weeks ago, same day the 34th District Democrats hosted a forum about it (as mentioned in our coverage of that event). No word yet whether Compassion Seattle will appeal the ruling.

8:57 PM: Compassion Seattle now has a statement on its website, saying in part “This ruling means the only way the public can change the city’s current approach to homelessness is to change who is in charge at city hall. An appeal of the judge’s ruling would not happen in time for the election. However, we urge the public not to give up the fight. We can still make our voices heard in the elections for Mayor, City Council, and City Attorney.”

35 Replies to "ELECTION 2021: Judge says Charter Amendment 29 shouldn't go to voters"

  • spooled August 27, 2021 (6:21 pm)

    Lame.   They were afraid it might pass.  It should have gone to the voters.

  • Ivan Weiss August 27, 2021 (6:23 pm)

    According to SCC Insight, Tim Burgess said immediately after the ruling that there would be no appeal.

    • WSB August 27, 2021 (8:54 pm)

      That is an update since I wrote this; we’ve been out for a few hours covering an event. (It’s also marked as UPDATE on Kevin’s site, not “immediately after” – https://sccinsight.com/2021/08/27/king-county-judge-strikes-down-compassion-seattle-initiative-removing-it-from-november-ballot/) Compassion Seattle has a statement on its website now (also since we’ve been out), which I’ll add above.

    • Jort August 27, 2021 (9:07 pm)

      Wait, I thought it was a “coalition of community groups” working on the charter amendment proposal. That’s how it was sold this spring! Danny Westneat even said so! And now Tim Burgess is calling the shots all along?! I am shocked! SHOCKED I tell you! How many times does Tim “Repetitive Failure” Burgess want to lose and/or fail at things? Hopefully more. 

  • Mr J August 27, 2021 (6:35 pm)

    Good. This initiative was anything but compassionate. 

    • Mel August 29, 2021 (6:29 am)

      Yes, compassion. What is happening on the streets right now is anything but compassion. 

      • Mr J August 30, 2021 (4:29 pm)

        Codifying sweeps isn’t compassion, it’s harassment. I don’t see anyone saying the status quo is compassionate, we can have a dialogue about how to get there without sweeping encampments. 

  • Kadoo August 27, 2021 (6:38 pm)

    Honestly, I’m relieved. It was a very confusing amendment. 

  • Peter August 27, 2021 (7:24 pm)


  • Jort August 27, 2021 (7:41 pm)

    Whoops! Sorry Tim Burgess. Oh well, turns out you don’t amend the city’s equivalent to a constitution to effect political policy. It’s like putting the IRS datatables for income tax brackets in the U.S. Constitution. That’s not what it’s for. If you don’t like the homeless response, elect different people who can change the city’s homeless response. That’s how it works. Not by changing the city’s foundational documents regarding governmental organization to satisfy your craven hatred of visible homelessness and how yucky and icky they are to look at. “Eww! Eww! Rewrite the City Charter! Eww!”

  • flimflam August 27, 2021 (8:15 pm)

    Nothing regarding a concrete plan/effort towards this end will ever be brought to a vote – just like the “tax big employers” deal a couple years ago, or the initiative to keep injection sites out of Seattle.

  • HappyCamper August 27, 2021 (8:33 pm)

    2 weeks ago I was there when a homeless guy assaulted an old woman and man by the waterfront, stole her phone and hurt her arm. He then spit blood in the face of another citizen that tried to help before the police came. The guy was super cracked out and angry. Blood in the face….Yes it was icky. Super icky.I’m thinking people are tired of that more than “visible homelessness”. 

  • CuriousQuestioner August 27, 2021 (8:38 pm)

    This is great news! Now we can continue to have things progress as they have been for the past 10 years. I was worried we were going to actually do something about this issue, but thankfully Seattle prevails in it’s adherence to “the process.” Perhaps we can hire a consulting company to analyze the situation for us? 

    • Anne August 27, 2021 (9:25 pm)

      Yes & no doubt pay them lots of $$ for their analysis. 

      • Jort August 27, 2021 (9:34 pm)

        Want some free analysis? Build homes for homeless people. Not shelters. Homes. There you go, I will charge 0 dollars and 0 cents for that analysis. 

        • Wsr3 August 28, 2021 (7:41 am)

          Jort, if you think the homeless in seattle only need homes, then you do not recognize people with drug addiction problems. A large portion of the homeless here are drug addicts. They often refuse any help.

          • Put your vote where your mouth is August 28, 2021 (2:59 pm)

            Drug addicts need homes too. Safe housing is an essential need, and could be foundational for receiving the other help they need.

          • major_sigh August 28, 2021 (3:13 pm)

            And those drug addicts can get a job and pay for their own housing. 

          • Put your vote where your mouth is August 30, 2021 (9:14 am)

            Actually, no, if they are homeless and addicted to drugs, they can’t just get a job and acquire housing. If only it was so simple!There are profound reasons for people being in these circumstances, and compassionate help is needed.

        • Mmarie August 28, 2021 (10:25 am)

          right on, jort!

    • Put your vote where your mouth is August 27, 2021 (10:11 pm)

      If people were really concerned with homelessness in Seattle as a priority issue, should have voted for Echohawk for Mayor. If you didn’t, you chose other priorities, and shouldn’t complain.

  • bill August 27, 2021 (9:10 pm)

    So, the people who wanted to impose rules didn’t follow the rules.

  • Michael Waldo August 28, 2021 (10:47 am)

    I have read a lot about a city ordinance that companies building all the apartment towers in Seattle must either provide a number of affordable units or put money in a pot to build affordable housing. I have never seen an update to this. How many units created?  How much money was raised to build housing? Where are this affordable housing being built?  Curious minds what to know.

    • My two cents … August 28, 2021 (2:04 pm)

      Google can be your friend for such requests.

  • TJ August 28, 2021 (11:28 am)

    That is a great question. And “affordable” is a subjective term. Some people will always say it’s not affordable enough. Others like Jort I guess want it completely free for some people. Nothing is free. It is just other people paying for it. Seattle is one of the more expensive cities in the country. It can’t be affordable for everyone and never will be. 

  • sna August 28, 2021 (11:58 am)

    I wasn’t a huge fan of Compassion Seattle, but have seen no attempt at a counter proposal by its detractors for how to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation in our parks and streets.  “Just give them housing” is a typical retort that ignores the immense cost, lack of funding, and even if those were solved would take years to build or acquire. We in West Seattle aren’t really experiencing the homeless crisis in parks anywhere close to the degree that places like Ballard and Greenlake are.  The situation in those places is quite grim.

  • wscommuter August 28, 2021 (12:29 pm)

    This is unfortunate.   Having only read the news accounts of the court’s decision, I don’t pretend to understand whether this decision was legally correct or not.  However, Judge Shaffer is one of the more frequently reversed judges in King County when her decisions get up to the Court of Appeals so I allow for the possibility that she is wrong.  Sadly, there isn’t time for this to be taken up before the November election.   I am mystified at the glee in the comments here from folks apparently against the initiative.  It’s fine to oppose it – good for you.  But  the apparent satisfaction with the status quo gives me pause.   The idiotic trivialization of people who are appalled at our homeless crisis by ascribing childish motives to them is as disheartening as it is ignorant.  

    • Jort August 28, 2021 (3:55 pm)

      People can be against the status quo and  be against whatever dumb conservative/Trumpian money-making ideas Tim Burgess (Seattle’s Tim Eyman) is dressing up like “compassion” and then flopping down in front of voters. It’s possible to dislike both. It has been intellectually dishonest (and, therefore, very appropriate for conservatives) for the charter amendment supporterss to say that those who opposed the CA are also pro-status quo. 

    • Chris K August 29, 2021 (9:46 am)

      Of course there’s glee.  Sweeping away human beings like they’re garbage is disgusting and immoral.  This is a huge win for Seattle.

  • Unfortunate Observer August 28, 2021 (3:16 pm)

    I think that several of the things in this bill are absolutely necessary, but I can see why this was shot down. When I first read about this, it seemed like exactly what we need as a city, however, as I researched the finer details of it, it became apparent that it is a very poorly written document and contains many strange, contradictory things. For example, it would actually make conducting ‘sweeps’ harder, since it would establish a legal precedent to do so, rather than just a political one like we have now. I am no fan of sweeps, but we do not need more confusing laws and bureaucracy around them. I agree with several things in this bill, but a charter amendment to accomplish these things is absolutely not what is needed, and would likely have very negative, unforeseen consequences.

  • DC August 28, 2021 (4:05 pm)

    The irony is that those who are complaining about the “status quo” are the same ones who voted for Bruce Harrell.

    • Vic August 28, 2021 (9:13 pm)

      😂😂 there it is

    • Canton August 29, 2021 (9:54 am)

      When Harrell was council president,  he was the only adult in the room. With Sawant and her cronies disrupting every meeting,  he kept the civility. Langley, Randall, or Donaldson would have been a fresh change, but they didn’t have enough exposure to get the votes. With Gonzalez being one of those children, we need a grown up to stand up to activist theater in our city council. 

  • anonyme August 29, 2021 (12:01 pm)

    I agree with the judge.  Imagine if the failed policies of the current mayor and council had been codified in this way.  We’d be stuck with the same freaking mess until and unless there was another election and another charter amendment.  While I agree we need to make big changes to our approach to homelessness, a charter amendment is not the way to do it.  I also completely agree with Canton that the “activist theatre” in our city council must change.  Very well put.

  • Mj August 29, 2021 (3:06 pm)

    Simply enforce the SMC!

Sorry, comment time is over.