EVERETT – Municipal court judges can now order prostitutes, their customers and drug dealers to stay away from W. Casino Road.
The ban becomes effective today, after the Everett City Council Wednesday voted unanimously to refocus powerful city ordinances that make it a misdemeanor for some people to visit known marketplaces for prostitution and drugs.
The council also added Smith Avenue, near Everett Station, to streets where the court can off-limits to people charged or convicted of drug crimes.
“The purpose is to keep known participants out of marketplaces for known drug and prostitution trafficking,” said Laura Van Slyck, Everett Police Department’s legal adviser.
The changes also include a provision that would allow Everett traffic engineers to work with the police chief to designate permit parking only in areas where people in cars appear to be parking along the street to engage in drug crimes and prostitution.
Police cited an increase in prostitution and narcotics arrests in those areas to support the decision.
W. Casino Road was marked by violent crimes last year, including a shooting death at an apartment complex and brazen gang-related gunfire in a city park where a Little League team was practicing.
In sworn testimony to the council, an Everett police narcotics dog handler said the area also has problems with drug abuse and sales.
Everett police officer Daniel Rabelos said W. Casino Road between Evergreen Way and Airport Road is referred to as an “open air market” because people can go there to buy any kind of drug without even knowing the dealer.
Police also say Smith Avenue, a diverse area that includes Everett Station and the community’s shelter for homeless men, has in places supplanted Hewitt and Hoyt avenues near downtown for popularity among drug traffickers.
The council also eliminated existing no-go zones near Everett Mall, Silver Lake, W. Marine View Drive and Pacific, Rucker and Colby avenues, saying crime has dropped in those areas.
The ordinances give municipal judges authority to issue orders banning people accused or convicted of prostitution or drug-related crimes from being in certain areas for any reason.
If police spot these people in restricted areas, they can be arrested.
Penalties can be stiff, especially for repeat offenders. Violations of an order can result in up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
People ordered to stay-away from these areas can ask a judge to make specific exceptions, if they give a compelling reason why they need to enter a banned area.
Judges in Everett last year issued 38 orders barring people from prostitution areas. There were 227 orders barring people from drug areas — 77 at arraignment, 150 at sentencing — according to the city prosecutor’s office.
The duration of orders are typically two years, Van Slyck said.
The orders are deterrents, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said. They provide police officers a tool to remove known drug users and prostitutes from the streets.
“It’s another way we can help improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” he said.
The W. Casino Road area was host last year to violence connected to drugs and prostitution.
Last April, someone in a parking lot at Walter E. Hall Park along W. Casino Road opened fire, striking a man with a stray bullet that pierced the wall of an apartment. In the same shooting, flying bullets sent children and coaches scrambling during a Little League baseball practice at the park. Police said gangs were behind the shooting.
A month later and a couple blocks away, a man was gunned down outside an apartment building. Witnesses told police the victim and two others had gone to the apartment to buy drugs.
Business owners reported an increase in prostitution in the area, including women from out of the area coming to Everett to sell sex. One woman was stabbed and seriously injured in a dispute with two other women thought to be connected to prostitution.