The former Days Inn on Everett Mall Way, seen here Aug. 8, 2022, that Snohomish County bought to convert into emergency housing is contaminated by methamphetamines. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

The former Days Inn on Everett Mall Way, seen here Aug. 8, 2022, that Snohomish County bought to convert into emergency housing is contaminated by methamphetamines. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

Edmonds, Everett motels’ meth contamination adds hurdle for shelter use

Snohomish County bought the former Americas Best Value Inn and Days Inn to use as emergency shelters for homeless people.

EVERETT — Former motels purchased by Snohomish County for use as emergency shelter for homeless people are contaminated by methamphetamine — which was discovered after the county announced the purchases.

The Days Inn motel at 1602 SE Everett Mall Way has been closed for months and circled by metal fencing.

Before construction begins and people move in, the contamination needs to be addressed, but the timeline for that is unclear.

In August, the Snohomish County Council authorized the purchase, finalized in the winter for $9.9 million, according to county property records. The county also bought the Americas Best Value Inn and Suites at 22127 Highway 99 in Edmonds for over $3.8 million.

When the purchases were announced, there was hope that rooms could be open the following winter at what the county calls the New Start Centers, county staff said.

But that timeline may be optimistic, especially after meth contamination was discovered, as first reported at the Everett location Monday by

Kelsey Nyland, a spokesperson for the county’s Office of Recovery and Resilience, confirmed the meth contamination at both sites to The Daily Herald.

The county hired a firm to test for contamination, which was identified at the end of October throughout both buildings, which were vacant at the time, Nyland said. Fencing was set up around the same time.

The original sales prices were dropped $700,000 for the Edmonds property and $900,000 for the Everett site to account for the cost of remediation, Nyland said. The county used federal American Rescue Plan Act money to buy the motels.

Similar problems arose with a former Red Lion hotel in Federal Way purchased by King County, as reported earlier this month by The Federal Way Mirror.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Making meth can leave a lot of toxic waste and is dangerous, according to the state Department of Health.

“Meth cooks, their family members, and first responders are often the ones who are injured (or worse) in illegal drug labs,” a Department of Health page states. “Waste dumped from meth labs can expose people to toxic chemicals. People picking up litter on the side of a road have been injured from meth lab waste dumps.”

The Snohomish Health Department, formerly the Snohomish Health District, investigated three meth manufacturing or storage sites in the past few years, spokesperson Kari Bray wrote in an email. Staff also gave technical assistance on cleanups for drug contamination and assisted with a couple of investigations at hotels and motels, she wrote.

The Edmonds and Everett motels were investigated at the county’s request, spokesperson Kent Patton wrote in an email.

The former Americas Best Value Inn and Suites in Edmonds, seen here Aug. 15, 2022, bought by Snohomish County for use as emergency housing has meth contamination. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

The former Americas Best Value Inn and Suites in Edmonds, seen here Aug. 15, 2022, bought by Snohomish County for use as emergency housing has meth contamination. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Exposure to high levels of contamination in meth labs can cause shortness of breath, burns to the eyes, mouth, nose and skin, chest pain, chemical irritation, coughing, dizziness and lack of coordination, according to the state Department of Health. People who have entered an illegal meth lab before it was properly cleaned and ventilated have reported dizziness, fatigue, headaches and nausea.

State law set the decontamination standard for meth at no more than 1.5 micrograms per 100 square centimeters. The state licenses contractors for decontamination, demolition and disposal of such sites, Bray wrote.

But “no decontamination procedure can guarantee absolute safety for reoccupancy,” according to the state Department of Health.

Snohomish County used motel vouchers for people to stay at the Days Inn prior to its closure, but not since June, Nyland said.

Snohomish County hired security to prevent trespassing and other unauthorized activities at the Edmonds and Everett properties, Nyland wrote in an email last week.

While the work to remediate the contamination is ongoing, the county will pursue other parts of the program.

Later this year, the county plans to seek on-site service providers and property managers for the locations in Edmonds and Everett through a request for proposal.

By fall, the county envisions finalizing designs and permitting, as well as facility improvements. That schedule could shift depending on contractor availability, Nyland wrote.

“We really want to learn from folks who have operated these kinds of programs in the past,” Nyland said, “and build a really robust project that is effective at bringing vulnerable individuals into a safe space and connecting them to a variety of services that they need and set them on the right path.”

This story has been modified to correct the envisioned timeline for when rooms would open and updated with information from Snohomish County.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037;; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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