Everett Weighing Law Against Public Drug Use – Adding Buffer Zones Around Service Providers

March 29, 2023

Everett Government

Note: Video starts 40 seconds in…

The Everett City Council’s Safe Community committee met before the regular Wednesday night City Council meeting.

Before the City Council meeting in Everett, Washington Wednesday night, the Everett City Council’s “Safe Community Committee” met to hear presentations on two possible ordinances that may come before the full council sometime this month. Both dealt with what Mayor Franklin told Council members Don Schwab and Judy Tuohy were “more tools in our toolbox” to deal with issues surrounding drug use in public areas in Everett.

The first issue was restriction of Controlled Substance Use in Public Places. The cities of Marysville and Tacoma have ordinances that make it against city codes to openly use controlled substances in public. In speaking about the proposed law, the message was arrest is the last resort but an important option. Council members were advised that treatment is available through resources currently in Everett for anyone who would like it. The issue is many currently do not want treatment. Many who are contacted in the street are under the influence and can’t make a treatment decision. The Snohomish County Jail offers Medically assisted treatment to inmates which can lead to a fast path to treatment.

Julie Willie, Community Development Director for the city pointed out that it is illegal to openly consume marijuana or alcohol in public under Everett city code but not controlled substances. This ordinance would remedy that.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman told the committee that the Police Department responded to over 3000 substance calls for service in 2022, a fifty-six percent increase over 2021 and we are on track to top that number this year.

A second ordinance that may come before the City Council this month would create “Service Facility Buffer Zones” that would limit sitting, laying or setting up structures in a two-block area around qualified service providers. Also included in the areas suggested for the buffers would be places where overnight shelters are located as well as places that have been identified as problem areas where drugs are openly being used.

A draft ordinance is in the process of being created and the City Attorney and administration will have to work out several things includiing exactly what the definition would be for service providers, who is providing the service and does it fall under city guidelines? Also, what is the definition of two blocks? (as that distance can vary depending on what part of the city you are in). Since the jail provides treatment to inmates, would a two-block buffer apply there or what about the hospital?

It was stated that the area around two proposed pallet shelters, one near Cady Road and Madison and the other near Glenwood and Sievers Duecy would be covered by the buffer zones.

The City of Everett is working with Snohomish County on purchasing a church in the 4500 block of Rucker Avenue in central Everett, Washington. Last Friday a county representative told area business owners the location would have 40 overnight shelter beds, be used as a cold weather shelter and as a distribution point for air conditioners to low-income residents. It appears that new facility may be covered under the Service Facility Buffer Zone if the Snohomish County Council approves a purchase and sale agreement that has not yet been made public.

A couple of years ago the Everett City Council passed a No Sit-No Lie ordinance around the area of the Everett Gospel Mission on Smith Street that now has 40 pallet shelters behind it. Area businesses have applauded that plan and the decrease in issues that had plagued that neighborhood for years.

Councilmember Judy Tuohy asked for a map or geographical representation of some type so show just how many buffers would be created by the ordinance. The city administration promised to work on a map and draft ordinance for further consideration by council.

No word tonight on exactly when either of the proposed ordinances would come before the Everett City Council.


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