Earlier this week, Council member Kshama Sawant held a discussion in her committee to push for some revisions in how the city reports on scheduled encampment cleanups.
Here are some highlights and notes from today’s City Council meetings.
Monday afternoon Budget chair Lisa Herbold released her “revised balancing package” proposal for the 2018 city budget. Tuesday morning she begins to lead her fellow Council members in deliberations and votes on the items in the package.
The big contentious issue, the employee-hours tax (or “HOMES tax,” or “head tax”), is still in the package, and in fact will be the first item up for discussion and vote. It won’t be pretty.
Yesterday the City Council spent most of the day looking at 59 proposals to further refine the proposed budget for 2018. And a few of them got heated.
The ongoing debate over how to handle unsanctioned homeless encampments has become deeply entangled in this year’s budget process, with both sides engaging in a war of words and with competing budget proposals attempting to enforce or modify the encampment removal procedures.
This afternoon the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) issued a report on its monitoring of the city’s removals of unsanctioned homeless encampments between May and September of this year. Their conclusion: the city is complying with the MDAR rules, but problems still persist.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled against the ACLU on two motions it had filed in its case against the city and WSDOT over the ongoing “sweeps” of unsanctioned homeless encampments.
Earlier this year, the city issued an update to its protocol for cleaning up unsanctioned homeless encampments. Notably missing from those rules was a formal role for the Office of Civil Rights in monitoring implementation and compliance, as it had been doing last fall when the city was accused of not following its own rules. The Office of Civil Rights stopped its monitoring work in January, but after public outcry the city backtracked and said that it would use the department in an “audit capacity.”
Last month, three city departments quietly signed a Memorandum of Agreement re-establishing a formal monitoring role.
This afternoon U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez issued an order denying the ACLU a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop WSDOT and the City of Seattle from seizing and destroying personal property without due process in cleaning up unsanctioned homeless encampments in Seattle.
Yesterday morning the Council had its first substantive discussion on the merits of the bill introduced earlier this month to rewrite the city’s protocol for clearing unsanctioned homeless encampments. While yesterday’s meeting was intended to be just a forum for discussion with no decisions, it nevertheless highlighted just how much work needs to be done on the details of the bill before it’s ready for adoption – and how unlikely that work will be finished before the Council’s self-imposed deadline of the end of the month.