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Spokane County withdraws lawsuit over Camp Hope in show of good faith

Jan. 24, 2023 Updated Tue., Jan. 24, 2023 at 8:07 p.m.

Lonnie Goin, on left, and his father, Lonnie Goin Sr., were given flyers handed to Camp Hope residents Tuesday by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane Police Department stating the homeless camp is closing.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Lonnie Goin, on left, and his father, Lonnie Goin Sr., were given flyers handed to Camp Hope residents Tuesday by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane Police Department stating the homeless camp is closing. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane County has withdrawn its lawsuit against the state of Washington and the state Department of Transportation over the closure of Camp Hope in an apparent show of good faith.

The county filed the suit in November seeking a judge’s blessing for local law enforcement to clear the homeless encampment, though county officials maintained that they could have done so without a court’s approval.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren dismissed the case at the request of Spokane County. The suit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be filed again.

A separate lawsuit, filed by residents of Camp Hope and affiliated organizations against both the city and county of Spokane, is ongoing. The next hearing in that case is scheduled for Friday.

Mark Gregory, a spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said the decision to pull back from a court battle came amid commitments from state officials to work with the county on a plan to close the camp.

“(Sheriff John Nowels) spoke with officials at Commerce and DOT and said he was promised, if the court case was dismissed, that they would come to the table and work with us to address the problem of the camp,” Gregory said.

The focus going forward, Gregory added, needs to be on getting the residents of Camp Hope the help they need, while returning the neighborhood where the camp is located back to its residents.

In a statement, WSDOT Eastern Region spokesman Ryan Overton said the agency learned of the county’s decision to withdraw its suit late Monday.

“We appreciate this good faith effort by Spokane County and the Sheriff,” Overton wrote. “Dropping the lawsuit will further the good work being done to downsize and eventually close Camp Hope permanently and to rebuild partnerships between WSDOT, Spokane County and the Spokane Sheriff’s Office as we all work to resolve and disband Camp Hope.”

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