Unreasonably hostile.
Unreasonably hostile. tommasolizzul/Getty

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What is "unreasonably disruptive" behavior? Aside from everything that's already against the law—like showing your genitals to people on the bus, etc.—that question has roiled politics just south of Seattle for the last four years.

In 2014, city officials passed a law that allowed police to kick out people from public places for "bodily hygiene or scent that is unreasonably offensive." Local activists identified the law as an attempt to outlaw homeless people. In response, Burien passed a slightly different version of the law with massaged language. Instead of banning body odor, Ordinance 621 allowed police to issue trespass warnings to people who used "unreasonably hostile or aggressive language or gestures," "unreasonably loud vocal expression," or who bathed in public fountains. Another ordinance narrowed the circumstances under which police could issue these trespass ordinances and gave residents a process to challenge them.

But according to the ACLU, Burien's trespass ordinance still allows police to exclude people "based on constitutionally protected speech." Last week, the ACLU of Washington wrote to Burien city officials asking them to repeal these trespass ordinances at tonight's City Council meeting.

"As several councilmembers noted at the January 22, 2018 Council meeting, they constitute harmful criminalization of homelessness and do nothing beneficial to address the issue," ACLU senior staff attorney Nancy Talner wrote to Burien officials. "The ordinances are also unnecessary; there are already plenty of criminal laws and rules of the particular public places in issue that can be used when appropriate. Moreover, exclusion can be a significant hardship on Burien residents, because they are unable to access important govermnental services."

For the first time in four years, repealing Burien's "unreasonably disruptive" trespass ordinance could become a reality at tonight's City Council meeting. With a new set of elected officials—including a new mayor, Jimmy Matta—and at least two new City Council members who have already expressed their desire to repeal the ordinances, it's possible the repeal will pass.