Burien residents protest city’s new ‘Unlawful Public Camping’ ordinance

A group of several Burien residents gathered on Saturday night to speak out against the city’s new ‘Unlawful Public Camping’ ordinance.

The ordinance went into effect on November 2, stating that anyone sleeping or residing on public property from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The new ordinance comes after months of debate between city councilmembers, who narrowly passed the ban with a 4-3 vote.

Residents are calling on the city council to repeal the vote or provide more housing. Their demands included:

1.     Recognize that being poor is not a crime and repeal Ordinance No. 818, titled ‘Unlawful Public Camping.’

2.     Accept King County’s offer of $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and use it to provide a safe and clean camping space for its unhoused residents—and specifically one not under the Sea-Tac flight path.

3.     Provide basic garbage removal, toilets, hygiene facilities, and food assistance to all who need it.

4.     Depoliticize Discover Burien and cut ties with the More We Love, the latter a group with a history of lying to and harming unhoused people.

5.     Stop all “sweeps” of homeless encampments.

6.     Get serious and start working on a longer-term solution that gets everyone inside safely.

KIRO 7 also spoke with Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling who voted in favor of the ordinance and says it’s about addressing the drug problem on the streets and finding a solution.

Burien City Council has been offered $1 million from King County to go toward a tiny home community for unhoused individuals. They have until November 27 to vote on a location, if they accept.