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

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Floatplane wreckage recovery in Puget Sound begins

The U.S. Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle Deep Drone 8,000, a barge and a crane in recovery efforts.

U.S. 2 was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish on Monday evening because the Bolt Creek fire spread close to the highway. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire spreads

The highway was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish, mile posts 46 to 50.

This screenshot shows a man being hoisted to a rescue helicopter Monday after being involved in a plane crash near Lake Cavanaugh. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Brothers rescued after plane crash en route to Snohomish area

The two men, 78 and 79, were flying from Skagit County to an airstrip south of Snohomish when their plane went missing.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Police: Purse snatching in Everett park led to stabbing

A Snohomish woman, 36, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

A semi truck blows smoke out of its exhaust pipes while driving southbound on I-5 on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reader: Did a tractor-trailer cover my car in diesel soot?

Probably not, according to a Department of Ecology spokesperson, since diesel emissions are getting “cleaner.”

Lynnwood City Council members, from left: Jim Smith, Shirley Sutton, Shannon Sessions, Josh Binda, George Hurst, Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, and Patrick Decker. (City of Lynnwood)
No penalty for Lynnwood council member’s ‘underinformed’ views on racism

The City Council didn’t censure Jim Smith after a report found he discriminated against a Black city employee.

Christian Sayre at his bail hearing at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Anchor Pub ex-owner arrested again, released on Oregon sex crime warrant

On Monday, Everett police arrested Christian Sayre for the fifth time in the past year. A judge released him Tuesday.

Michael Adams is trying to navigate the school district's procedure for addressing complaints about racism after his son was the subject of some racist Snapchat messages sent by Granite Falls High School students in May. 

Photographed in Granite Falls, Washington on September 20, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After threat to ‘lynch’ Granite Falls boy, father says school fell short

Michael Adams helped craft the district’s diversity policy. Then his son became a target of racism. He now wants more changes.

Sunny Taylor (Family photo)
After cop’s suicide, Everett picked ‘money over the people,’ family says

The city argued on-the-job trauma had little to do with detective Sunny Taylor’s sudden death in 2020, to her family’s horror.

Most Read