Compassion Seattle’s effort to bring a charter amendment before Seattle voters this autumn to add new directives concerning homelessness to the city’s plan of government has been foiled for the second time in as many weeks.
Today, the Court of Appeals denied the coalition’s efforts to overturn King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer’s ruling from last Friday, which held that Charter Amendment 29 exceed the scope of the local initiative power and must be removed from the ballot. In a signed order, the Court kept Shaffer’s ruling intact and did not offer a rationale for rejecting the appeal.
The court’s order is below.Court of Appeals decision rejecting Compassion Seattle’s appeal
Compassion Seattle suggested in a statement that this is the end of the road for the ballot measure and it won’t be appealing to the Supreme Court.
“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 coalition said.
“While we are deeply disappointed, we will continue to share evidence that our amendment’s approach can make a necessary and noticeable difference for those living unsheltered in our parks and other public spaces.”
“Our work has elevated this issue — undoubtedly the most consequential one facing Seattleites — to the forefront of this election for both candidates and voters. We will hold candidates accountable for their position on this crisis and their plans to address it, and urge voters to elect new leaders who will move Seattle forward and not perpetuate the status quo. The evidence speaks for itself: Seattle has continued to increase its spending on homelessness over the last five years, yet the number of people living unsheltered has only increased.”
“We cannot afford further inaction and the City’s continued failed approach to this emergency. Seattle voters, you have the power to make a difference this November in who you elect as Mayor, as City Attorney, and to the City Council.”
NPI’s July 2021 polling suggested that the measure was getting a favorable initial response from Seattle voters. 61% of voters surveyed by Change Research for NPI said they would vote for Charter Amendment 29 if the election were being held then, while 23% indicated opposition and 16% were not sure. The measure’s most enthusiastic backers were young voters and voters of color.
But having failed to survive judicial scrutiny, CA 29 is now off the ballot. It’s an outcome I guessed would come to pass at the time the lawsuit was initially filed last month, based on the strength of the body of case law plaintiffs cited.
House Our Neighbors, the CA 29 opposition coalition, praised the ruling, tweeting: “It’s over. Let’s go win housing for all!” and retweeting Doren McGrath, who wrote: “Still not going to be on the ballot. Now let’s focus on real solutions like massive public housing under workers and tenant control paid for by substantially increasing the employer tax on large, wealthy Seattle corporations!”
While House Our Neighbors is correct that the battle over CA 29 is over, Compassion Seattle is also correct that what happens next will be significantly influenced by who voters choose for Mayor, City Attorney, and City Council.
NPI and Change Research will be surveying voters about their preferences in all four citywide races — plus all the Seattle School Board races — next month.