by Staff Writer
Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling said,” I’m disappointed with my colleague’s remarks about the unlawful camping ordinance and my challenger’s support for his comments. It’s especially disrespectful to the other 3 BIPOC members of Burien City Council, who I joined in voting ‘Yes’ on the unlawful public camping ordinance. The reality is: the majority of Burien wants fewer public encampments. We hear it from people of every race, gender, income level, and walk of life. I’m glad the City Council acted to make Burien a safer place, to create a tool to get people off the streets and into shelters and services, and to expand permitting for shelters. I hope my colleague will express policy disagreement differently in the future.”
Schilling was responding to a comment from rival Position 2 candidate Patricia Hudson. In a letter to her supporters, Ms. Hudson said, “I want to commend CM Garcia, who addressed a recent option and was shouted down as he spoke passionately about the serious topic. The attempts to silence him came not only from people in the audience but from his colleagues on the dais. This is unacceptable behavior from elected officials. It’s time for new leadership now.”
Council Member Hugo Garcia, speaking with emotion regarding the passage of Ordinance 818, said that this “reeks of white supremacy.” Garcia said, “This is not enforceable because no beds are available.” He went on to say this will only move the homeless to sections of the city where black and brown people live but that no one will care because these folks are out of their neighborhood.”
His claims do not seem to align with the facts. First, a black city attorney and a Hispanic city manager primarily worked to craft the ordinance. Of the four city councilors who voted in favor of the ordinance, two are Hispanic, one Asian, and one white. In summary, of the six most influential people responsible for the ordinance being passed to the consent agenda, one step of final passage, only one is white.
Second, Mr. Garcia’s claim of no place for the homeless to go runs afoul of the experience of Kristine Moreland of The More We Love, the Salvation Army, and Samaritan’s Worldview. These organizations have found beds for every homeless person willing to go into a drug and alcohol-free shelter. Mr. Garcia needs to be more accurate in his claims. He needs to state that there are not enough beds for those who want a free place to sleep, get food, and use their drugs, supported by the citizens of the city. The law does not require the city to provide a place where continued drug use is allowed. Finally, where the tent campers will move to has yet to be discovered.