It has been published that Ordinance No. 6659, which would add Chapter 9.24 to the City of Auburn city code, was passed at the December 4, 2017, City Council meeting. The publication also indicated that the vote to pass Ordinance No. 6659 was a unanimous 6-0 vote. This is, in fact, not true.
For the second time, during the agenda modifications portion of the meeting, Ordinance No. 6659 was removed from the agenda. Though a revised version of the ordinance had been created, it was ultimately pulled from the agenda so that the city could continue to work with the community to fine tune boundaries specified in the “Stay Out of Designated Area” (SODA) ordinance.
Ordinance No. 6659 will be an aide to Law Enforcement officials in anti-drug emphasis throughout the City of Auburn. This ordinance will allow for the courts to attach an order to a defendant’s sentencing in the adjudication of a violation of a drug-related law. The order will not be automatically added to every drug law violation but will be applied at the discretion of the Judge. A SODA order would restrict the individual from frequenting “portions of the City that are identified as anti-drug emphasis areas.” Should the law be violated it would be a gross misdemeanor.
This ordinance was modeled after several ordinances of similar nature from local cities in the region; such as Tacoma, Lakewood, Everett, and University Place. According to the legislative write-up, the assessment from prosecutors city of Auburn staff inquired to, indicated “this is a valuable tool for the police, prosecutors, and courts to address recurring illegal drug activities in certain areas.”
City Attorney Dan Heid shared with the Examiner that the agenda bill materials show “this can be a valuable tool for law enforcement to help address a problem that seems to be becoming more pervasive all across the country.”
During the November 13, 2017 study session (1hr 9min), Councilmember Yolanda Trout-Manuel inquired to Heid if those who were restricted with a SODA order would be able to visit family members within a SODA region. Heid indicated that courts are hesitant to tell individuals they can not go home; however, if a location is not their actual residence than they would be prohibited by the order. This would mean that some individuals who live within SODA designated boundaries may be permitted to traverse these areas, as they legally live there. During the session, Heid candidly admitted that it “may not be a perfect tool across the board [because of this], but other than that – it is a tool.”
When Councilmember Wagner asked, Heid explained that SODA locations will not be designated by signs at or within their areas, as notifying the individual at the time the court order is issued will be legally sufficient. The current SODA locations are: the downtown area, the Outlet Collection, all city parks and park property, the MuckleshootCasino, the south end, the Interurban Trail, the White River Trail, the Lakeland Linear Trail, the Reddington Levee Trail and the C Street Trail. Full boundaries of these areas are outlined within the language of the ordinance.
Councilmember John Holman told the Examiner that this ordinance is a “good tool that can potentially benefit both the residents of the areas and the drug dependent.”
According to the language of the ordinance, as it is currently written, it “shall take effect and be in force five days from and after its passage, approval and publication as provided by law.”
Holman expects the ordinance to have continued discussion at the upcoming December 11, 2017 study session and “in all likelihood [be] on the agenda for adoption at Council on December 18, 2017.”
Holman did note that as the ordinance had been pulled from the agenda, rather than tabled, the date of the vote is uncertain.
We will keep you updated as to the updated language of and when the City Council votes on Ordinance No. 6659.
UPDATE: Ordinance No. 6659 was not an agenda item discussed at the December 11, 2017 study session. It also was not on the December 18, 2017 Council meeting. The next time council meets will be January 2, 2018.