D.C. Board Appeals Decision On Homeless Shelter Initiative

The city's Board of Elections and Ethics has asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to overturn a recent decision by a Superior Court judge invalidating a landmark ballot initiative that would have guaranteed overnight shelter for the homeless.

In its appeal, filed Monday, the elections board asked the appellate court to hear the case on an expedited basis and issue a ruling by Sept. 20.

The board's attorney, William H. Lewis, said a speedy resolution is necessary to give proponents of other initiatives enough time for the lengthy review and comment process required to place their measures on the primary ballot in September 1986.

Last November voters overwhelmingly approved the homeless measure, known as Initiative 17, despite vigorous opposition by city officials.

The measure was the first in the nation to guarantee "adequate overnight shelter" to the homeless.

On July 19 Judge Annice Wagner struck down Initiative 17, saying it exceeded the scope of ballot initiatives by requiring the appropriation of funds, a power not granted voters.

In his notice of appeal, Lewis said that six ballot initiatives pending before the board are subject to a six-month comment period and other reviews. All six, he said, "raise the issue of whether they appropriate funds or negate or limit a budget act."

City officials declined to comment on the appeal.