People gather to distribute food and resources in protest of Everett’s expanded “no sit, no lie” ordinance on May 14, 2023, at Clark Park in Everett, Washington. One of the “no sit, no lie” buffer zones includes the area around the park, but the law doesn’t apply inside the park. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

People gather to distribute food and resources in protest of Everett’s expanded “no sit, no lie” ordinance on May 14, 2023, at Clark Park in Everett, Washington. One of the “no sit, no lie” buffer zones includes the area around the park, but the law doesn’t apply inside the park. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Everett mayor’s new ‘no sit’ zones cover much of downtown, plus 300 acres

One zone, with a perimeter of nearly 1½ miles, bans sitting or lying in a large swath of downtown. Another was created in south Everett.

EVERETT — Mayor Cassie Franklin has established two new “no sit, no lie” zones, the first since the City Council granted the mayor the power to do so in May.

One zone, with a perimeter of nearly 1½ miles, spans about 68 acres in a large swath of northern downtown. It bans sitting, lying down or giving out food within a two-block radius of the Everett United Church of Christ at 2624 Rockefeller Ave. The church houses a homeless shelter. The new zone encompasses Clark Park, Everett High School and streets bordering the Everett Public Library and Angel of the Winds Arena.

The original 2021 ordinance targeted homeless people staying around the Everett Gospel Mission, making sitting or lying down on public property a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $500. It also barred people from giving out food, supplies or services in that area without a permit.

Now, the expanded law allows the mayor to set more zones elsewhere in the city as buffers to service providers and areas “highly impacted by street-level issues.”

The buffer zones can have a radius of up to two city blocks — but depending on how you define a block, some can be much bigger than others.

The second new zone is roughly 300 acres, with a perimeter of 3¾ miles. It’s centered around the Fred Meyer in south Everett on 8530 Evergreen Way. Its irregular shape includes areas around Horizon Elementary School to the west, the Evergreen library branch to the south and Cascade High School to the north.

The new “no sit, no lie” buffer zone in Everett’s downtown is roughly 68 acres. (Photo provided by Safe Community Council Committee)

The new “no sit, no lie” buffer zone in Everett’s downtown is roughly 68 acres. (Photo provided by Safe Community Council Committee)

In a Wednesday council committee meeting, Community Development Director Julie Willie said the shape was due to adjustments city staff made to the zone to prioritize “high impact” areas.

Including all areas within a two-block radius of the Fred Meyer would have made the zone very large, she said, because of the inconsistent city blocks around it.

“Over the past three years we have had high call volumes regarding public safety and criminal behavior” in that area, Willie said Wednesday.

Though the downtown zone includes the area around Clark Park, the law doesn’t apply on the park grounds. The park has served as a gathering place to deliver supplies to unsheltered people.

The city does not intend to put up signs letting people know where the zones begin and end.

The new “no sit, no lie” buffer zone along Evergreen Way, near Fred Meyer, is about 300 acres. (Photo provided by Safe Community Council Committee)

The new “no sit, no lie” buffer zone along Evergreen Way, near Fred Meyer, is about 300 acres. (Photo provided by Safe Community Council Committee)

The city could put a sign up and “someone just crosses the street,” Government Affairs Director Jennifer Gregerson said at the council meeting to explain the city’s reasoning. City officials are focused on education, she said, which allows them to direct people to services.

Public records show at least two people have faced misdemeanor charges since the original zone was created in 2021. One of those people accepted an offer to apply for temporary housing through a Pallet shelter village, while also getting cited for “Certain Conduct Within Designated Public Rights-Of-Way Prohibited.”

City spokesperson Simone Tarver also said in an email Friday that the focus will remain “on education, not enforcement.”

Willie said police and the city’s Community Outreach and Enforcement Team will tell people about the zones’ boundaries. She added there will be information about the buffer zones on the city website.

City staff are still working to develop a new permit that would specifically allow people to give out food and services in the buffer zones. For now, people can use a right-of-way permit, which is not specific to the “no sit, no lie” law.

The newly established Everett United Church of Christ buffer zone was quiet Friday afternoon. No one appeared to be lying or sitting down along the street.

Andrew Stiger, an associate at Abbey Carpet & Floor in the buffer zone, hadn’t heard about the change. But he was glad to hear it had been established. Staff spend hours every week dealing with issues outside the store, he said, noting that recently someone set off fireworks in their dumpster.

Still, Stiger said he felt for the people on the street.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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