NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

Court of Appeals rejects Compassion Seattle appeal, keeping Charter Amendment 29 off the November general election ballot

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.

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