Let reason prevail in homeless regulations
June 11, 2014
The random background checks called for by some residents as a condition of allowing an encampment of homeless people in Sammamish should be anathema in this country.
Simply because a person lives in a tent does not mean they forfeit their citizenship, and citizens have a right protecting them from unreasonable search and seizure.
Fortunately, the City Council seems unlikely to adopt this, one of the more egregious examples of hysteria among the populace. The council should continue to let reason and the rule of law prevail as they deliberate homeless camp regulations.
Opponents of the camp spoke frequently during the public hearing about protecting the children. Protecting them from what, exactly? The knowledge that they are privileged?
Yes, during Tent City’s stay there were eight arrests (and so far no convictions, reminding us of another founding principle, presumption of innocence). But during the last three months, while Tent City was at Faith United Methodist Church, there were none.
When Police Chief Nate Elledge reported on the number of arrests in Sammamish, he said it was an unusually high number. Facts seem to be bearing out that it was a statistical blip, rather than something the city could expect.
During Tent City’s stay in Sammamish, there was one registered sex offender living in in the city, but he wasn’t at Tent City. And no one seems to be attacking the high school he attends for allowing him to go there.
Others accused Tent City of being more than a camp, but of a way to politicize homelessness. And what if it is? Why is that bad? It’s not like someone’s getting rich in the deal. Homelessness is a regional, and indeed national problem. If the presence of Tent City is forcing residents to have a conversation about something they’d rather ignore, then good for Tent City.
The council listened well to the residents during the public hearing, and some of them had valid issues and made sensible arguments. As they consider those points of view, they should also ignore those whose opinions are based on nothing more than fear of someone different from themselves.