July 24, 2008

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Tent City 4 From Moving to Mercer Island

By Peyton Whitely, Seattle Times

Jul. 24--Some Mercer Island residents have filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court to try to stop a proposed tent-city homeless encampment from moving to their neighborhood next month.

The lawsuit, filed July 10, seeks an order to prevent the encampment, dubbed Tent City 4, from settling on the island between Aug. 5 and Nov. 10.

The case is set for trial Dec. 28, 2009, but the lawsuit asks that an injunction be granted before Aug. 5 to prevent the move. A hearing on the injunction is scheduled Monday before Judge Michael J. Fox.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group calling itself Mercer Island Citizens for Fair Process, whose members include several neighbors near the site of the proposed encampment.

Defendants are named as Tent City 4; SHARE/WHEEL, a group sponsoring Tent City 4; the Mercer Island United Methodist Church, where the encampment would be located; and the city of Mercer Island.

The lawsuit argues the city acted illegally in granting a temporary-use permit to allow the encampment, that the settlement will be a nuisance and that the settlement violates due-process provisions of the Constitution.

"Neighbors will be forced to look at Honey Buckets, temporary shower facilities, tents and an array of equipment necessary to serve the camp," the lawsuit argues.

The encampment has been in several Eastside cities over the past five years and commonly stays in one location for three months.

The defendants have not filed a response opposing the request for a temporary restraining order. The encampment has led to several lawsuits involving various cities in the past, with mixed results.

The encampment is currently in Bellevue and previously was in Kirkland.

Religious leaders on Mercer Island announced a year ago that they wanted to bring Tent City 4 to the island.

"We don't want to be viewed as the suburb of the city that's blind to the needs of people of metropolitan Seattle," Greg Asimakoupoulos, president of the Mercer Island Clergy Association and senior minister at Mercer Island Covenant Church, said at the time.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or [email protected]

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.


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