County councilman proposes banning safe injection sites

Nate Nehring says county officials also should find “credible, long-term solutions to addiction.”

Nate Nehring (Dan Bates / The Herald)

EVERETT — Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring is pushing a ban of safe injection sites for drug addicts, like those officials in Seattle have been pursuing.

The District 1 councilman drafted an emergency ordinance targeting “community health engagement locations,” the bureaucratic term for the sites. The temporary ban would apply to unincorporated areas of Snohomish County.

“Safe injection sites enable drug addiction and I don’t believe it’s acceptable to use taxpayer dollars on efforts which encourage the use of illegal drugs and do nothing to solve the problem of addiction,” Nehring said in a news release. “There is no safe way to inject heroin. We need to instead be looking at efforts which help these individuals turn their lives around for the better.”

Officials in Seattle and King County have been working to create safe injection sites, but other communities, including Bellevue, have moved to ban them. The King County-Seattle Board of Health voted unanimously in January to endorse the sites, which officials there said would be the first of their kind in the nation. Safe injection sites, or locations where people would be supervised while using heroin, were part of more than 30 recommendations by King County’s Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force.

No such proposals are under consideration in Snohomish County or Everett.

Nehring intends to seek a permanent ban on safe injection sites. The longer-term proposal would have to go through the county Planning Commission, which would provide policy recommendations to the County Council for a final decision.

“The emergency moratorium is a temporary move that will allow us to take the time to deliberate a permanent ban and get the public’s input,” he said. “I look forward to working with my fellow council members to find credible, long-term solutions to addiction and the problems that come with it.”

Nehring, a Republican from Stanwood, was appointed to his job earlier this year. He is running for election in November against Democrat Ray Miller to represent the council’s District 1, which covers Marysville, Arlington, Granite Falls, Stanwood, Darrington and surrounding communities.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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