City Council In Everett, Washington Approves Ban On Public Consumption Of Controlled Substances And No-Sit, No Lie Buffer Zones

Everett City Council

The seating area was packed as people spoke for and against two proposed ordinances.

It was a full house with overflow into the lobby at the City Council Chambers in Everett, Washington Wednesday night as the Everett City Council heard public testimony and voted on two ordinances relating to community safety. The first ordinance CB 2304-29, prohibits public consumption of controlled substances. The second ordinance, CB 2304-30, gives Everett’s mayor the authority to designate service facility buffer zones around qualified service locations and other high impact areas.

There were about forty speakers expressing urgent support or serious outrage on the two bills. Here’s a brief recap of just some of what the City Council heard.

  • We need to adjust our empathy and make room for reason.
  • People are not respecting our neighborhood. Near Andy’s Place. I see drug deals almost every day. Lombard, 33rd and 34th street.
  • Give it a pause, this is criminalization of helping your neighbor.
  • We are not going to live in Everett. All are welcome in Everett except…if you are houseless. Mayor Franklin, you bring shame to this city.
  • On behalf of Cocoon House – strong opposition.
  • District 4 mom of two worried about the consumption. Our kids don’t feel safe anymore. I’m here for my kids.
  • Strongly encourage you to postpone the vote.
  • Placing a contaminated bandage over an open wound – criminalization is not a solution.
  • Substance abuse disorder is a medical condition, not criminal.
  • This is not about making homelessness illegal but tools to deal with a few people who are causing the problems. We’ve gone backwards.
  • Will not improve safety in our community.
  • There has been a failure to enact real solutions that address the root of the problem.
  • This problem requires a far larger response than being proposed. This is doing something for show.
  • In the end the City Council voted 4 – 3 to pass the ordinance which has an effective date of July 1, 2023. Councilmembers Zarlingo, Tuohy, Schwab and Stonecipher were for the bill and Rhyne, Fosse and Vogeli were against it.

    The ordinance could be preempted by State Law. On Tuesday, Governor Inslee announced he will call a special session of the State Legislature to begin May 16th. The session will focus on passing a new drug possession law. If a bill passes the action taken by the Everett City Council would become moot. If State lawmakers can’t pass a bill then Everett would join other local cities like Marysville and Bellingham to have something in place at the municipal level.
    The second bill also passed by the same measure. Councilmembers Zarlingo, Tuohy, Schwab and Stonecipher were for the bill and Rhyne, Fosse and Vogeli were against it. Stonecipher did join Rhyne, Fosse and Vogeli in passing an amendment that would put a sunset clause of December 31, 2025 to the ordinance that would allow the Mayor to establish two block “buffer zones” around service providers where problems have been identified or in areas considered “high impact” with negative affects involving neighborhoods whether or not there is a service provider operating there. Here are some of the comments on the second ordinance.

  • Will force people into more isolated areas.
  • Father, grandfather says there’s a need more treatment centers. Speaker had knife pulled on him. This is part of the answer – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. There has to be consequences and accountability.
  • My child’s school transportation has refused to pick her up due to safety concerns. We’re on the perimeter of no-sit, no lie. Those inside benefit, those beyond are impacted. More of these zones will impact neighbors two blocks away. Not an adequate solution. Need more outreach and intervention.
  • Manager of Murphy’s Corner Fred Meyer supports no sit, may have to reduce community access to our stores. Historic losses.
  • 32 years at Boeing, now retired. Ordinance will penalize those who donate food and supplies to unhoused. Gotta help ‘em, can’t kick them out.
  • There is a permitting process with the City. Can’t provide services to congregate group just laying around.
  • Like cleaning up an oil spill with a beach ball. Just pushing it around. Please reject.
  • Something needs to be done, The bottle of water and muffin is the only tool I got to make a difference, Remove the clause that it is illegal for me to pass out help.
    Mayor Cassie Franklin issued the following statement following the Council’s approval of both ordinances.
    “We are facing some incredible challenges in our community and I’m proud we will have new tools to address these struggles in a way that balances compassion and accountability.

    Every day, I hear from community members about what they are witnessing on our streets – open drug use, paraphernalia left on our sidewalks and individuals that are clearly in crisis and in need of help. Now, our officers will be able to intervene earlier and more strongly encourage people to accept the services available. I know that not everyone will be receptive to these offers and unfortunately that will mean they’ll face legal consequences. This isn’t a perfect solution, nor will this solve all of our community’s challenges with public substance use, but it’s a start.

    For us to truly address this major issue, we need more treatment options and services here in Everett and throughout the region. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, finding a suitable location for a service provider, whether it’s addiction treatment or a shelter, can be incredibly difficult, partially because the conduct that we’ve seen near certain sites. The new buffer zone ordinance will give the City the ability to ensure safe access to services for individuals seeking care and also mitigate the negative impacts that sometimes occur around these facilities. We want these facilities to be successful and this is one thing we will now be able to do to better support their work.

    I’d like to thank everyone who provided public comment on these items. I take your feedback seriously and I hear your concerns. We are doing everything we can keep our community safe and ensure that support is available for those who are struggling.”

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