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Court rejects appeal of Seattle homelessness measure

Tents are pitched illegally on a sidewalk in Seattle in January.
David Ryder
Tents are pitched illegally on a sidewalk in Seattle.

A charter amendment that would change Seattle’s approach to homelessness will not appear on the November ballot, after an appeals court rejected an emergency motion from the measure’s backers.

The Washington Court of Appeals declined the appeal from Compassion Seattle on Friday, a week after a King County Superior Court judge blocked it from the ballot, saying it would usurp the City Council’s authority and conflict with state law.

The measure, officially known as Charter Amendment 29, would have directed the city to provide 2,000 units of housing within a year and to keep public land clear of encampments. Opponents called it an unfunded mandate.

“Today’s rejection of our emergency appeal motion means that Seattle voters must change who is in charge if they want a change to the city’s failed approach to addressing the homelessness crisis,” the campaign said in an emailed statement.

Of the Seattle mayoral candidates who advanced to the general election, former City Council member Bruce Harrell supported the proposed charter amendment, saying the city must act with more urgency on the issue, while City Council President Lorena González opposed it, saying it could lead to cuts in vital services.

Some homeless nonprofit leaders and advocates have spoken in favor of it, but others started a campaign called House Our Neighbors to encourage voters to oppose it.

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