Kirkland mayor writes open letter in response to lawsuit opposing homeless shelter

Mayor Sweet says the city has and will continue to be committed to transparency in the process.

On April 11, Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet released an open letter to the community standing up against a recent lawsuit the city had been served regarding King County’s purchase of a La Quinta Inn in Kirkland that was meant to serve as permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.

The lawsuit, filed by the Keep Kids Safe organization on April 4, alleges that Kirkland leaders and government violated the Open Public Meetings Act as part of the process of implementing the homeless shelter and the decision to finalize the location.

“Upon review, the complaint is without merit. The allegations against the City that the Kirkland City Council did anything illegal or in secret are simply false. No violations of the Open Public Meetings Act occurred by any Kirkland City Councilmember,” wrote Mayor Sweet in her open letter. “We are confident that the court will dismiss these speculative, unfounded claims against the City.”

In her letter she also claimed that the Kirkland City Council and its members pride themselves on being an “being an open, transparent, and accountable government” to which they have been recognized by the State Auditor’s Office and the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

On March 1, the Kirkland City Council passed Resolution R-5522 and the terms and conditions were created in response to the numerous public comments the City has received through virtual stakeholder meetings, emails, phone calls, and testimony at City Council meetings.

The resolution emphasized the importance of community feedback and engagement in the supportive shelter implementation process and outlined several efforts and opportunities for community members to do so during the process.

“We are disappointed that the plaintiffs in this case, by asserting without evidence that the City violated the Open Public Meetings Act, seem willing to jeopardize the confidence that Kirkland’s residents and businesses have in their City and its government,” wrote Sweet. “At the same time, however, we want to make it clear we hear and understand the concerns members of our community have expressed about this proposed use.”

According to Keep Kids Safe, over 3,500 parents, teachers, residents, and stakeholders have signed a petition in opposition to homeless shelter plans for La Quinta Inn. The location of the facility, which representatives of Keep Kids Safe are too close to schools in the area, is also an issue brought forth by the group.

“Both the Council and City staff, at our direction, have been transparent in this process and will continue to be.” Sweet’s letter read. “The Council remains committed to helping ensure that Kirkland’s efforts to support the provision of housing for individuals experiencing homelessness occurs on a basis that helps address this urgent societal challenge while also protecting the public health, safety, and welfare of our community, including particularly our children.”

Sweet said the city will conduct additional, robust public outreach opportunities in early May and in subsequent months to help ensure that community concerns are addressed in the agreements between the city and the county.