This 2017 image shows the corner of 33rd and Smith streets in Everett, which is within the “no-sit, no-lie” boundary that will stretch from 41st Street to Pacific Avenue near I-5, including the Everett Station and the Everett Gospel Mission. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

This 2017 image shows the corner of 33rd and Smith streets in Everett, which is within the “no-sit, no-lie” boundary that will stretch from 41st Street to Pacific Avenue near I-5, including the Everett Station and the Everett Gospel Mission. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Everett City Council passes ‘no sit, no lie’ law in 5-1 vote

It affects an area around a homeless shelter but won’t take effect until a village of small shelters is opened.

EVERETT— After weeks of passionate discussion, the Everett City Council has approved a law that will criminalize sitting or lying on streets and sidewalks in a 10-block area east of Broadway near downtown.

The council passed the “no-sit, no-lie” ordinance by a 5-1 vote Wednesday night. Enforcement will not begin until alternative housing is available at a “pallet shelter” village approved by the council last month.

The no-sit, no-lie boundary will stretch from 41st Street to Pacific Avenue near I-5, including Everett Station and the Everett Gospel Mission. Dozens of people live on the sidewalks and in alleys adjacent to Smith Avenue, an area business owners and officials said has borne the brunt of Everett’s homelessness crisis.

The ordinance also requires a permit from the city to provide food, goods, supplies or services in the zone.

Councilmember Scott Bader suggested the amendment to the pallet project last month. On Wednesday, he said the city of Everett does more than other localities to help the homeless, but this assistance cannot hamper the lives and work environments for others.

“In response to putting the pallet shelters there, and the Smith street community being willing to again accept more homeless residences, I just believe the discreet no-sit, no-lie area seems appropriate to accomplish balance,” Bader said.

Councilmember Liz Vogeli was the lone vote in opposition. She also objected to the no-sit, no-lie amendment when Bader proposed the addition. Councilmember Jeff Moore was absent from the meeting.

“Arson is a crime, property damage is a crime,” Vogeli said addressing business owners concerns. “… I don’t think sitting and lying down is a crime, nor do I think that it is a good idea to create it as a crime.”

About 20 miniature homes proposed for a vacant lot behind the Everett Gospel Mission hinged on the approval of the no-sit, no-lie ordinance. The dwellings are expected to help people who have found traditional shelters incompatible with their transition from the streets to more permanent housing.

A state grant and tax dollars will fund the housing that is expected to cost more than $1 million to build and operate.

“There is no perfect solution to addressing homelessness in our community, but every incremental step can make a difference,” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said in a statement after the vote. “Tonight’s action allows us to move forward with an opportunity we have right now — one which will provide new stability, support and shelter to up to 30 more people.”

The timeline for pallet shelters is unclear. The project’s prospective operator, the Everett Gospel Mission, still needs to reach an agreement with the city on how that program would be run and get permits before the site can be prepared.

A goal has been set by the city to have the shelters running by June.

About 20 people spoke Wednesday during more than an hour of public comment before the vote. Discussion was split between activists speaking on behalf of the homeless and merchants exhausted by years of friction.

“As someone who has lived my entire life in the city, I have continued to watch the city push the homeless folks, as well as look past them and look down on them,” Taylor Stefanski said during the meeting. “Passing this ordinance will only displace this community more and to somewhere else, not solving the issue at hand.”

Business owners described the challenges of running an operation near Smith Avenue.

“I support the no-sit, no-lie because I need some kind of indication from the city that they will not just let us all fail down here,” said Jennifer Cross, owner of The Dog Spot on Smith Avenue. “As they grapple with the best ways to help the homeless population, they remember that we have needs and rights, too.”

In separate letters prior to the vote, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Homelessness Law Center urged the city to reconsider the ordinance, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban of cruel and unusual punishment.

Officials have said the city spends more than $100,000 a year to clean the streets near Smith Avenue and 37th Street.

“The fact is, the problems in the Smith street area have only gotten worse, and in my opinion, they’ve gotten a lot worse,” Councilmember Scott Murphy said. “I believe we have to take more aggressive actions.”

In recent years, federal courts have ruled that governments cannot enforce laws that ban homeless people from sleeping or camping on public property in cities where those folks do not have an alternative place to go, like a shelter or sanctioned encampments.

A U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case Martin v. City of Boise mentions that enforcing a no-sit, no-lie ordinance may be legal if the rule has a limited scope of time or place.

City leadership believes the boundary described in the ordinance would be small enough to stand up to future legal challenges.

“You can never tell what a court will do, but we’ve done everything we can to make sure it is constitutional,” City Attorney David Hall told the council.

After Wednesday’s vote, Penelope Protheroe, a vocal opponent of the ordinance and leader of the non=profit Angel Resource Connection, told The Daily Herald the action further stigmatizes Everett’s homeless population.

“I consider it like a trap zone for people who go and get meals twice-a-day” from the mission, she said. “It’s like, ‘Here is your food, come and get it. I know you’re hungry, but you can’t sit down or take a load off.’”

Protheroe said her group will seek a permit from the city to continue providing services, including helping the homeless access stimulus checks and assisting in the transition to permanent housing.

“We are going to do what we’ve always done,” she said.

People would not be cited under the ordinance unless they continue to violate the rule after being notified by law enforcement. Violators would face misdemeanor charges that could result in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $500.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Talk to us

More in Local News

WSDOT workers open up the Smokey Point Rest Area on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free coffee will be back soon at Smokey Point rest areas

Everett’s Silver Lake rest area for southbound I-5 drivers remains closed while WSDOT works on the facility.

The Everett Music Initiative team, (from left) Ryan Crowther, Nate Feaster and Michael Hannon. (Everett Music Initiative)
As Everett Music Initiative turns 10, downtown no longer a ‘ghost town’

The group will celebrate its birthday Thursday night with a party to kick off the eighth Fisherman’s Village Music Fest.

Everett
Pro skateboarding competition coming to Everett in August

Street League Skateboarding’s championship tour will be at Angel of the Winds arena for two days.

Drivers heading north on Interstate 5 will take a detour from Highway 104 to 220th Street SW and back to I-5 this weekend during nightly lane closures for Sound Transit light rail work. (Sound Transit)
Light rail work closing I-5 North lanes nightly this weekend

Crews need to close northbound lanes between 220th Street SW and Highway 104. Drivers have two detour options.

Doug Ewing looks out over a small section of the Snohomish River that he has been keeping clean for the last ten years on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at the Oscar Hoover Water Access Site in Snohomish, Washington. Ewing scours the shorelines and dives into the depths of the river in search of trash left by visitors, and has removed 59 truckloads of litter from the quarter-mile stretch over the past decade. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Diving for trash in Snohomish River, biologist fills 59 pickup beds

At Thomas’ Eddy, Doug Ewing estimates he has collected 3,000 pounds of lead fishing weights. And that’s just one spot.

Epic Ford on the corner of 52nd Street and Evergreen Way in Everett is closed. The dealership has been in business for more than 50 years. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
After 50 years, Everett’s Epic Ford dealership closes shop

It opened in 1971, when gas guzzling muscle cars like the Ford Mustang still ruled the road.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
A climate bill that died in Legislature lives on, in plans for future

A bill requiring cities and counties to cut greenhouse gases failed to pass, but they’re planning to do it anyway.

Most of Compass Health’s clinical employees at the Marysville, Monroe and Snohomish sites will transfer to its Everett locations. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Lawsuit blames counselor’s ‘unethical’ relationship for Marysville man’s death

Joshua Klick was referred to a counselor at Compass Health. Two years later he was shot and killed.

Five 2021 stories in the Herald won Excellence in Journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
The Daily Herald brings home awards from annual journalism competition

The Herald got three first place wins and three runner-up spots in SPJ’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism.

Most Read