Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

MARYSVILLE — Three more Snohomish County cities are considering outlawing safe injection sites, which are sanctioned areas for using heroin.

Marysville, Lynnwood and Sultan may soon join Lake Stevens and the county, which have adopted temporary bans.

The Marysville City Council is expected to vote on an interim prohibition Nov. 27. The measure, if approved, would give the council six months to explore other options, including making the rules permanent. The meeting includes public comment.

“It’s a no-brainer not to have these sites in our community,” said Marysville Councilman Rob Toyer, who proposed the legislation.

In Lynnwood, City Council President Benjamin Goodwin has floated a similar idea. Council members George Hurst and Shannon Sessions have said they would support the measure.

Safe injection sites have become a hot topic in Western Washington, especially after being endorsed by the King County-Seattle Board of Health in January. They are one piece of a complex conversation about addressing the rise in addiction to heroin and other opioids. Proponents say the sites reduce public disorder and health problems among addicted populations. Studies have shown a drop in overdoses in other countries with such sites, according to literature from King County.

Officials at the Snohomish Health District, meanwhile, say they believe public efforts should focus on preventing new addictions and increasing treatment options, not safe injection sites. The health district, the county executive and the sheriff also plan a news conference at 12:30 p.m. Monday to announce a new initiative on that front.

The Snohomish County Council passed a six-month moratorium on the sites in September. A public hearing on the ban for the county’s unincorporated areas is scheduled in council chambers at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Lake Stevens also enacted a year-long moratorium Oct. 24. More discussion is expected at the Lake Stevens planning commission next year.

The topic has come up in Everett as well. The county’s largest city is waiting to see whether other jurisdictions allow the sites and what happens.

Marysville’s Toyer said he doesn’t think the sites are the right solution to opioid challenges.

“I thought it was important for the city of Marysville that we send the message to the public that we’re not going to accept safe injection sites in our community and we should take proactive measures,” he said.

He and Goodwin both cited the county’s decision.

Lynnwood already is struggling to help the homeless, Goodwin said. He worries that a safe injection site would become a gathering spot, fueling an increase in the demand for services.

Sultan Mayor John Seehuus recently asked city staff to prepare a resolution for a permanent ban. He believes the sites are “bad for the community at large,” he said.

The resolution likely will go before the Sultan City Council in the weeks ahead.

Reporter Noah Haglund contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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