Seattle will pay $10,000 to settle Cal Anderson encampment removal lawsuit

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A ‘homelessness authority’ was supposed to get Seattle and its suburbs on the same page; after a slow year, they may be further apart

The city of Seattle will pay $ 10,000 under a settlement agreement to a woman who sued the city in federal court over her plan to remove her tent from Cal Anderson Park last December.

The lawsuit brought by Ada Yeager, who said she had lived in the park since last June, challenged the constitutionality of the city’s controversial practice of removing homeless camps. It also added a new crease to an escalating conflict in Cal Anderson Park this winter when protesters blocked part of the park to prevent the city from clearing out homeless people and activists.

The indictment, which was at the center of Yeager’s lawsuit, argued that giving Yeager and others 48-hour notice to remove their belongings from the park violated their civil rights through “unlawful confiscation and destruction of personal property,” among other things.

The Seattle Times Homeless Project is funded by the BECU, Bernier McCaw Foundation, Campion Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Starbucks, and the University of Washington. The Seattle Times retains editorial control over the content of Project Homeless.

Critics of the city’s warehouse relocations have argued in the past that the seizure of property during the clean-up violated their constitutional rights. Data from the city itself has shown that while the city claims to keep people’s belongings, few people are getting back essential items – including identification documents, medicines, and medical devices.

A lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of two homeless plaintiffs was dismissed last June after attorneys lost touch with their clients.

Yeager’s lawsuit not only sought damages, but also asked the court to issue an injunction to halt the impending removal of tents. The US District Judge Richard Jones denied the motion.

Two days after the lawsuit was filed, the city evacuated homeless people and protesters from the park for the third time since the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) closed. Since the CHOP closed, the park had become a focal point for confrontations with police during nighttime protests. Activists temporarily occupied a municipal rental facility to distribute supplies to the homeless.

However, the city’s stance on the camp was contradicted at least once last summer when Seattle police officers targeted a homeless man at the protesters in the park between moves of the camp and concluded that it was one of the few places That Person Could Live On Get food and clothing during the pandemic.

Yeager said she ended up in Seattle, where her partner is originally from, after living in Texas. The coronavirus pandemic and bad luck left few places to turn to her and her partner, Yeager said, and the Cal Anderson community welcomed her. Since the park was cleared, Yeager has worked with city officials to move into a tiny house operated by the city -contracted, nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute.

“This case was an opportunity to make up for some of the losses to myself and my community, and possibly help prevent future sweeps,” Yeager said. “We decided to settle down as it would be a long time before we could go to court and the settlement could bring immediate relief or resources to the uninhabited in Seattle.”

According to a spokesman for the Seattle Prosecutor’s Office, the city chose to reach an agreement “to avoid the time and expense of further litigation.”

Braden Pence, one of Yeager’s attorneys, believes that more litigation is needed on this matter. A video captured by a KOMO news helicopter while the camp was being removed showed the city clearing Yeager’s tent, Pence said.

All Yeager could reclaim from town was an umbrella and bottle opener that were still in the box.

“The city could wiggle out of this,” said Pence.