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Spokane city and County leaders point fingers at state for dragging out I-90 camp timeline

Spokane County is suing the Department of Transportation and asking a judge to declare the I-90 homeless encampment as a chronic nuisance property.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County is currently suing the state Department of Transportation and asking a judge to declare the I-90 homeless encampment as a chronic nuisance property.

That decision could come as soon as Dec. 2, 2022.

However, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he doesn't need the court's blessing to go in and remove people.

"We're working to resolve this by any means other than sending law enforcement, but that is an active protest and sooner or later it becomes an unlawful assembly," Knezovich said.

The sheriff says notices will soon be posted, saying the camp is closing some time during the first part of December after Catholic Charities opens the former Quality Inn with room for up to 120 people. Mayor Woodward says more beds are being added to the Trent Shelter and the city's entire shelter network.

"We need to know how many people are in the encampment and since we can't get that number, we did a public records request," Woodward said.

Woodward added the state and the service providers it's contracted at the I-90 camp refuse to share information and work with the county's emergency operations center. During a recent press conference, Gov. Jay Inslee said the state can't be the only player in the game.

"To be successful we have to work with all levels of government and non-profits," Inslee said, which the sheriff played during Tuesday's press conference. "I agree with the Governor also," Knezovich remarked. "My question is why can't we get all levels of government and non-profits to work together in this county. They have been invited to the table, why won't they come."  

The state claims those discussions can't happen due to the county's ongoing lawsuit. Knezovich says that's a false flag.

"Every legal matter I've ever been in, 90% are resolved before it ever goes to court," Knezovich said. "How does that happen? It's by people getting together and talking about the issue and resolving it before we ever have to go to court."  

Jewels Helping Hands shared a photo showing Gov. Jay Inslee visiting the camp over the weekend.

"So, I'm asking Gov. Inslee to come back to Spokane, sit down with the mayor, the commissioners, myself and help us find a path forward," Knezovich said. "As he stated, winter is a huge motivator. Well guess what? Winter is here."

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