The City of Aberdeen plans to begin issuing 72-hour notices today to over 50 people living on city property near the Chehalis River, with a 3-day deadline to vacate the property. A July 2nd decision by a federal judge in Tacoma denied a motion to block the closure of the River Street property.
A press release from the city said that on July 2, 2019, Judge Leighton entered an order denying the plaintiff’s motion to block the closure of the River Street property to public access.
However, the plaintiff’s motions to temporary restrain enforcement of AMC 12.41, the Sit-Lie Ordinance; AMC 12.44, concerning Obstructing Sidewalks; and AMC 12.46, concerning Public Camping; have been granted pending a hearing scheduled for September 4th, 2019. The City of Aberdeen may seek clarification of the Court’s Order, but at this time will not attempt to enforce the above-identified ordinances.
With the recent court order, it is the intention of the City of Aberdeen to provide 72-hour notice of the closure of the River Street property on Monday, July 8th, 2019.
Throughout this lawsuit, the City of Aberdeen has maintained two key points: the City of Aberdeen has the right to restrict access to property for the purpose of protecting public safety and welfare, and the City of Aberdeen’s elected officials should be allowed to address the City’s homelessness situation without the threat of litigation.
The City has provided the Court with evidence that sufficient space exists such that homelessness would not be unlawful in the City of Aberdeen simply from the closure of the River Street property. To that end, the City of Aberdeen produced a map showing all public spaces in which an individual could be without fear of enforcement of public camping laws, when sufficient shelter space is not available.
While this shows compliance with the minimum requirements imposed by the constitution, it is not a long term strategy to addressing homelessness in our community and the City of Aberdeen has been considering options for providing alternative shelter for those who are homeless in our community. The City firmly believes any decision regarding how the City of Aberdeen addresses this issue must be made by the elected members of the City Council, with opportunity for input from the public. Anything less represents a serious breakdown of our democratic process, and impairs our right to self-governance.