Business Owners Frustrated As Criminals Mix Into Area Near Everett Gospel Mission

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This morning Everett Police were contacting people in the area of the Everett Gospel Mission.

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The owner of Z-Sport has seen the neighborhood change for the worse over the past decade.

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The lot north of the Mission is now being fenced.

It was brought up at Wednesday night’s Everett City Council meeting that business owners in the area near the Everett Gospel Mission are expressing frustration to the city with the lack of progress made in addressing issues some say are causing harm to their operations. Theft, assaults, drug use, prostitution and illegal camping are keeping customers away, making employees feel harassed and driving down property values.

At the meeting, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson asked the city council to reconsider an ordinance that prohibited sitting or laying on public sidewalks in a specific area of the city. As proposed, the ordinance would make it illegal to sit or lie down upon, or place a blanket, sleeping bag, backpack, chair, mattress, couch, stool or any similar equipment, item or furniture upon a public sidewalk or any portion of the public right of way whether improved or unimproved in the following area: Smith Avenue north to Pacific and south to 38th street. There are exceptions for those in wheelchairs and people experiencing medical issues and a person would have to be warned and willingly violate the ordinance in order to be arrested. In addition, people would be prohibited from distributing food, beverages, clothes or other items to people within this zone unless they had a permit from the city.

The proposed ordinance never made it to a vote in front of the City Council. In April it was pulled from the city council agenda after members of the city’s Community Streets Initiative Task Force voiced opposition to the proposed law and noted that it was not one of their recommendations. Speaking on the issue during council comments last night…”Sleep on it, think on it,” said Mayor Stephanson. “There is an element who want to live that lifestyle.” (You can click here for the latest Everett Community Streets Initiative update).

MyEverettNews.com has featured efforts by the city to team with social service providers to reach out to those in the area who are experiencing homelessness and offer them assistance. Today after Everett Police contacted multiple people in the area north of the mission we spoke with Gary Watts, owner of Z-Sport Automotive, about the changes he’s seen and problems he has faced since opening his business in the neighborhood back in 1992.

“Ten to fifteen years ago it was a different crowd,” said Watts. “They were older men, easier to work with about private property and were actually looking for help.” Now Watts describes those who are frequenting the area around the mission and causing problems to be younger, between 20-35, both male and female and almost exclusively addicted to drugs. “You don’t see many who are drunk,” he said. “It’s drugs.” Every morning the first employee at Z-Sport has to do a sweep around the business and clear the site of needles. Watts says his foreign car repair business used to have a majority of female customers but that has dropped to less than 35 percent of his customer base. He says his female customers tell him they don’t feel safe in the neighborhood, dropping off their cars before or after hours like they once did.

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You’ll find a No Trespassing sign on most every business in a 4 block radius of the Mission.

Watts says there is an element of people who are aggressive, who come into his business and demand handouts and argue when they are turned down. His employees have concealed weapon permits and now carry guns at work. He says the neighborhood also has a rat problem caused by the people who use the lot north of the mission. The rats feed on the garbage that has been left behind. “It took us four years to get rid of the rats after the landfill closed,” Watts said. “Now they’re back living in the hill. At night you can toss an open bag of chips in the street and seem them scurry out to devour it.” He says human waste is also a problem as people used an area behind a storage container north of the mission as an outdoor bathroom. A couple of months ago, the city fenced off the sidewalk directly north of the mission and under the overpass. Today a crew was building a fence around the lot that holds that storage container. Watts says he agrees with the Mayor that an ordinance is needed to address the problems with those who have made choices to not try to get help but just prey on others in that neighborhood. “There are those who are needy and want help,” he said. “But there are also those choosing this as their lifestyle and they’re hurting everyone down here.”


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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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9 Responses to “Business Owners Frustrated As Criminals Mix Into Area Near Everett Gospel Mission”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    New to town, most cities have smoke shops and “other types of businesses that attract bad people”. You can’t blame those businesses. Shutting them down would hurt the business owners and employees who rely on them, and most likely not solve the problem of homelessness and substance abuse. This isn’t unique to Everett. No matter where you go, you can find nastiness if that’s what you are looking for.

  2. Eleanore Says:

    Maybe they need to move all social services to smith island etc

  3. New to town Says:

    Everett area scares me. Never seen such nastiness. But Everett has smoke shops, and other types of businesses that attract bad people so they should get rid of that too.

  4. Native Says:

    The Volunteers of America, let’s them sleep on there property on 13th and Broadway. The homeless, sleep on the step’s and a long the building on 13th st. They go to the 7-11 buy beer drink it over at VOA (Volunteers of America). Drugs are dealt and prostitution, run rampant there. It is so bad that you can’t even walk to the door without someone bumming money or something off you. They steal from the store (7-11). The motel’s there, don’t help either.

  5. max Says:

    Why not make this ordinance city wide? I know the hums, addicts, and drunks keep moving through my neighborhood and the cops don’t seem all that interested or empowered to help. We are the taxpayers, voters, and residents and we need the city to put a stop to this. Everett had gotten to be a magnet for homeless, anyone who denies this either doesn’t live here or doesn’t gave their eyes open.

    • Native Says:

      I, agree with you. It is all the street feeds and other that attract them. I, understand that there are a lot of homeless, if the city would cut off the head of the beast, it would kill it. Stop the street feeds and the homeless will leave…

    • Oath Says:

      If you build it they will come. And come they have. I have helped for years at meals and can tell you this….I see a lot of generosity from well meaning folks and virtually zero accountability being expected from people who have made getting charity a career. People shoot up in church bathrooms, hide drugs in toilets, break church property, defecate in front, try to bring big dogs or bikes inside, have fights right out front, get pissed off if we only have cold sandwiches, get pissed off if we just offer bag lunches, dump their garbage everywhere, bum cigarettes, try getting seconds and even thirds when they approach the meal table, cut in front of people, use foul language at others and even staff and repeatedly and consistently leave their plates and garbage at the table for sore and tired staff to have to clean up.

      NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING about this. No sermons, no lectures, no words of encouragement, no discipline or life training whatsoever. People are so ridiculous now that they walk right into the church with a lit cigarette and get mad at us when we politely ask them to put it out.

      WHY THE HELL would people bend over backwards to feed, clothe and show preferential treatment to people who live with two middle fingers fully extended at society? I get it that we should help the poor….and yes I have fed and clothed them. But I see so many meals, so many ministries, so many superficial, non judgemental, no rules, no expectation meals popping up that it made me stop helping out. If people can give free shoes, haircuts, clothes and dental service to people on the street I feel morally checked that we should ALSO be offering free training, education, life and job assistance for people who want to better themselves.

      NOT ONE meal has a ministry for people who need help with cars, or need rides to work. People need free education. But right now you have a whole lot of generosity being showered on folks who unfortunately do not better the city. I am not for cutting off such assistance, just making sure that it is effective and not so one sided.

    • doesntmatter Says:

      I agree. I have seen it get so bad over the years. They recently put a needle exchange program on E Marine view, there are house not far from this! I don’t feel safe taking runs in my neighborhood for this reason. You can’t walk into Safeway or QFC without being harassed for money etc.

  6. sweeptheleg Says:

    good the city need to put those ordinances in effect asap… the mission area has turned into a shooting gallery (term for large area used by iv drug users)