The City of Aberdeen has adopted an ordinance to remove people and close access to property along the Chehalis River effective June 10th after a federal judge placed their plans on hold for 30 days. On Tuesday of last week, Judge Ronald B. Leighton reviewed a request for an injunction and instead told the city to come back in 30 days with a plan for the people who will be displaced by the closure.
April Obi is one of the three who won a joint lawsuit against the city last year when Judge Leighton ruled that the city couldn’t restrict access to certain people at certain times. The city’s new approach seeks to close the site over several health and safety violations. Obi said the city needs to also consider the pets of those living at the camp, “I have said it from day 1; you need to treat these people like humans. […] So you’re going to want people to roam the streets of Aberdeen with cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, some of them have multiple [pets].”
Obi told the council last week that these people and their pets will have nowhere to go, “Not only are you uprooting the homeless people off the camp. Now you’re going to have people roaming the streets of Aberdeen with their animals and their belongings. [Now] they don’t even have shopping carts because you guys made an ordinance where they can’t have shopping carts.”
Obi was referring to recent enforcement of an existing city ordinance that requires stores with carts keep them on their property, and carts found more than a certain distance from their store are considered stolen property.
An amendment last week moves the effective date for removing people from the property to June 10th, the third reading of the ordinance passed unanimously with 4 council members and Mayor Erik Larson not in attendance. A motion to instead postpone the third reading and find an alternative location for the displaced people failed to get support from the council.
City officials now work against the clock to find and define the alternative locations requested by Judge Leighton before Ordinance number 6645 becomes law on June 10th.