Lawsuit Challenges Burien’s Homeless Camping Ban, Claiming Unconstitutional Treatment of Residents

BURIEN, Wash. – The City of Burien in Washington is facing a lawsuit over its public camping ordinance, which has been challenged by The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and three unhoused individuals. The lawsuit seeks to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional and is being represented by the Northwest Justice Project. According to Scott Crane, a spokesperson for the organization, the ordinance effectively forces homeless people to leave the city as it restricts their ability to exist outdoors and meet their basic needs. The camping ban was passed in 2023 as a response to Burien’s growing homelessness problem and makes it illegal to establish permanent homeless encampments in the city. Violating the ordinance is considered a misdemeanor.

The plaintiffs argue that criminalizing homelessness is not a viable solution and that the focus should be on providing adequate housing and dignity to those in need. However, the City of Burien declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. Former city Councilmember Cydnee Moore, who voted against the camping ban, believes that the lawsuit reflects an ongoing battle and is interested in seeing its outcome. Moore has been an advocate for progressive causes and even though her stance may have affected her chances in the previous election, she stands by her decision.

Meanwhile, Moore is leading a temporary encampment called Sunnydale Village, which operates at a local church and relies on volunteer work and community donations. She argues that the city should offer more assistance to homeless individuals instead of simply forcing them off public streets. Moore highlights that the city implemented the camping ban without providing any alternative options. She considers herself fortunate to be able to offer temporary housing to those in need.

In conclusion, the City of Burien in Washington is confronting a lawsuit over its public camping ordinance, with plaintiffs arguing that it is unconstitutional and criminalizes homelessness. The lawsuit seeks to challenge the ban on establishing permanent homeless encampments in the city. The City of Burien has not commented on the ongoing litigation. Former Councilmember Cydnee Moore has been an outspoken opponent of the ban and is now leading a temporary encampment for the homeless. She believes that the city should provide more assistance to individuals in need rather than resorting to punitive measures.