SMOKEY POINT — New rules here will allow judges to order people who have been charged with or convicted of drug crimes to stay out of certain areas.
It’s called a Stay Out of Designated Areas, or SODA, ordinance. Everett, Marysville and Bothell have similar regulations in place. Some stand for Stay Out of Drug Areas, but have the same effect.
The city has been focused on addressing crime throughout Arlington, spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said. “This is just one tool out of dozens. It takes all of them to address this problem.”
The Arlington City Council approved its Stay Out of Designated Areas ordinance Monday. Such ordinances often are used to address repeat offenders under the Controlled Substances Act, according to a city staff report. That means those charged with possession of drugs or paraphernalia and manufacturing or delivering drugs, including to minors.
The “designated area” outlined in the SODA ordinance is in Smokey Point. It stretches from I-5 on the west to 43rd Avenue on the east, and from 164th Street NE on the south to 175th Street NE on the north.
The new rules take effect Tuesday.
At the request of police or prosecutors, a municipal court judge can impose a SODA order during a drug-related criminal case originating in the designated area. Under the order, a defendant can be prohibited from entering that area for up to two years, though judges may make allowances for services in the boundaries, such as the transit station or state licensing office. A SODA order may be issued as a condition of pretrial release or deferral or suspension of a defendant’s sentence.
If someone under a SODA order is spotted in the area, an officer can arrest him or her. Violating an order is a gross misdemeanor.
“The City of Arlington has seen a steady increase in drug activity, drug-related arrests and drug-related overdoses over the last several years,” Police Chief Jonathan Ventura wrote in a memo to the mayor and City Council. “Drug trafficking occurs in both public and private locations, however some geographic areas have been more affected than others.”
The number of substance abuse related-incidents reported to police went from 448 in the city of Arlington in 2012 to 842 in 2016, Banfield said. The city tracks 911 calls and relies on officers’ experiences, community complaints and other data to know where problems are concentrated. Between January and May of this year, there were 318 incidents involving drug abuse in the city, most in Smokey Point.
The area outlined in the SODA ordinance has been identified as a “high narcotics trafficking area” based on the data. Arlington police plan to regularly update city leaders on violations so the area can be reassessed, including expanding or shrinking as needed.
The city also has launched public campaigns such as “All-In” and “Keep the Change,” won a grant to research services and needs, and is looking to add an embedded social worker who would work with police in North Snohomish County.
Arlington’s new SODA rules are in line with actions taken by other cities to combat what is often referred to as an opioid epidemic.
Everett designated its first SODA in 2007, and now has nine such areas. Marysville voted to establish a SODA downtown in 2012, and recently expanded it to include areas near the Snohomish River. Other cities with similar rules include Bothell, Shoreline, Seattle and Tacoma.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.