(The Center Square) – A charter amendment that would revamp the city of Seattle’s approach to fighting homelessness could still be on the November ballot after the group backing the measure said it would appeal a lower court’s ruling.
The Compassion Seattle campaign originally said it would not appeal last Friday’s decision due to time constraints but reversed course on Tuesday.
The group filed an emergency order with the Washington Court of Appeals, asking for a decision by the end of this week. The court said it would hear the case.
Last week King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer struck the amendment from the ballot, saying it overstepped state law.
“The judge’s decision caused an outpouring of support over the weekend from supporters who want us to press on with an appeal,” Compassion Seattle said in a statement. “We decided that we must take this action to represent the interests of tens of thousands of voters who signed petitions to put this amendment on the ballot.”
Compassion Seattle is asking the court of appeals to rule on whether or not the issue should be on the ballot and has said the amendment’s legality should be challenged only if it passes.
The appeal has put King County Elections in a bind as it continues to design ballots that are supposed to be mailed out on Sept. 9. Every registered voter in the state is automatically sent an absentee ballot ahead of election day that they can return by mail or place in a designated ballot dropbox.
King County is preparing 400 different types of ballots for all of the various voting districts that are also translated from English into four other languages – Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.
“The reality is that we needed it on Monday, at this point we’re just looking at how much overtime we’ll need,” Kendall Hodson, a spokesman for King County Elections, told The Seattle Times. “As with any court decision, we will do our best to comply with what the court orders us to do.”
If passed, the amendment would require Seattle to build 2,000 shelter or housing units within one year and rewrite its budget to put more money toward social services.
In her ruling, Shaffer noted that charter amendments are not supposed to supersede the city council’s authority to set budget priorities and determine land use policy.
Compassion Seattle, backed by downtown business alliances and real estate companies, has raised more than $1 million.