Transit Riders Union, Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness, and ACLU of Washington joint statement on ruling finding CA 29 in violation of state law on local ballot initiatives

News Release: 
Friday, August 27, 2021
SEATTLE – Today, King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled that Seattle Charter Amendment 29 (“CA 29”), which proposed to establish city policy on homelessness through a vote by Seattle residents, violated state law limiting the permissible scope of local ballot initiatives in many ways and therefore should not appear on the November 2021 ballot. The plaintiffs and their attorney had these reactions:

“We're grateful this ruling will prevent a misleading and illegal use of local ballot initiative powers,” said Katie Wilson of the Transit Riders Union. “It’s important that voters fully understand what they are being asked to weigh in on, and CA 29 makes promises it can’t keep.”

“Judge Shaffer’s ruling affirms well-established limits to the local initiative process and recognizes the importance of the proper functioning of our democratic systems,” said Breanne Schuster, ACLU of Washington staff attorney. “We are pleased that CA 29 will not stand as an impediment to solutions that meaningfully address our housing crisis and do not punish people for trying to meet their basic life-sustaining needs like shelter, sleep, and food.”

“Every person in Seattle is concerned about homelessness. Today’s ruling ensures all of us can focus on real solutions to help people get home and address homelessness in a coordinated, inclusive, and effective way,” said Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.

“We need and deserve community-wide solutions that address the systemic causes of homelessness: solutions that work for people now and that last.”

"The blunt tool of an initiative is not a way to address this complex and evolving crisis. The law recognizes this and so did the judge,” said Knoll Lowney, attorney for Plaintiffs.