This is an issue that the City has been working on in conjunction with the Mission and a number of other service providers. As background, Everett Police Department has been doing additional patrols and monitoring of the area since late 2014, in response to concerns expressed by businesses in the area. Over a 3-month period, EPD made hundreds of contacts and arrested or cited close to 60 people. They’ve also worked very hard to connect people with services to help get them off the street. However, we’ve continued to see the area under the overpass being used for camping and as a trash dump, and in recent weeks we’ve seen even more aggressive and destructive behavior, including drug dealing, graffiti and assaults. As Sylvia mentioned at the council meeting, the Mission also contacted us a few weeks ago to express their concerns about the growing problem.Through the relationships that developed as part of the Streets Initiative task force, EPD and the Mission pulled together eight service providers to be a part of intensive outreach to people using the underpass for shelter. The group included local organizations like Cocoon House, Evergreen Manor and Compass Mental Health, and Pioneer Human Services out of Skagit County. As Sylvia alluded to yesterday, this was really an unprecedented effort and collaboration among these agencies that was achieved in a short period of time. Chief Templeman said the effort represented a novel approach by the police department and a remarkable level of involvement and cooperation among the different organizations. This week’s intensive outreach has been very successful, with a number of people choosing to take advantage of services.
Next week, the City will make some changes to the area as the second phase of our efforts to address the ongoing issues. We will upgrade lighting under the overpass and install fencing under the overpass on Smith Avenue to make the area less attractive for illegal activity and to make it easier for our officers to monitor activity in the area. We will also continue to take enforcement action against criminal activity, such as vandalism, drug dealing and assaults.