If Seattle’s homelessness crisis isn’t an emergency, what is? The Compassion Seattle campaign is right to appeal a disappointing lower court ruling that precludes city voters from deciding on a stronger homelessness response this November.
The need is too urgent to wait. The Washington state Court of Appeals should take this question up as organizers requested Tuesday. An emergency appeal of last Friday’s King County Superior Court ruling taking Charter Amendment 29 off the November ballot deserves action.
Compassion Seattle campaigners collected nearly double the 33,060 signatures required to put Charter Amendment 29 on this year’s ballot, with good reason. Voters have plenty of evidence of the Seattle City Council’s expensive fecklessness at getting people out of urban tent camps and into healthier situations. The charter amendment would escalate this response, requiring 2,000 new housing units within a year plus new support services and codifying the importance of open access to sidewalks and parks. Those are supposed to be public spaces, not domiciles.
The court ruling tossing the proposal off ballots threatens to deprive citizens of being able to provide clear guidance to city leaders. The appeal asks that November ballots contain the proposed amendment when they are mailed out. Ballot printing starts early this month.
Without the Compassion Seattle proposal on those ballots, voters’ next chance to amend the city charter won’t come until 2023. That’s too long for the city to keep dumping money into the same services that have left people languishing on sidewalks and park spaces year after year without meaningful help, and too long to trust that city leaders will wise up that the status quo is not working.
Let the voters decide — this November.