Op-Ed: Neighbors express concerns about the homeless shelter

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sudeeptha Jothiprakash lives in Richmond Highlands, close to the park. She speaks for herself and a group of nearby neighbors 


As of 8/10, Shoreline City Council and King County have green-lit the project to convert The Oaks at Forest Bay Nursing facility, formerly Arden Rehab, (on N 165th/Aurora Ave N in Shoreline) into a homeless shelter, starting 09/01/2020 and move up to 60 people from all over North King County into the facility by December. 

While we support affirmative actions to address homelessness in our city, we have concerns about this decision. Specifically, the processes being followed to rezone the property, to engage the community most affected by this shelter, and to assure the community's safety.

Just to set context, A Navigation Center is a “low barrier” set up for single adults. There are currently two Navigation Centers that we found in Washington; one is in Vancouver, WA and another in 12th Ave S. In Seattle. 

People are NOT required to stay in the center, and quite a few continue to sleep outside despite having a bed there. They only have to check in every 72 hours, are NOT required to be receiving treatment for mental illness, be “sober” (that is drugs or alcohol); or be part of any service program. They are allowed to possess illegal drugs but are not allowed to use them at the facility. This information comes directly from government documents on the program.

Outreach and process: As of 08/10, Shoreline City Council has already assured King County their support to initiate the first tranche of payments to Royal Oak owners to secure ownership, without attempting a community outreach to hear from the neighborhood beforehand, who will be most affected by this decision. 

The City Council did not address any of the concerns raised in the 08/10 Council meeting and instead want to engage our community with a public outreach as an after-fact. As Shoreline Area News noted “While the City Council is treating this as a ‘study’ item, it seems like it is a decision. Shoreline's part in this is to change the zoning for the site. If they instruct staff to proceed with rezone, then it's a GO for King county.” 

The community most affected will not have a chance to weigh in on the decision-making process since this is already set in motion.

Arden Rehab is the shelter site. Showcase Sports center is the white building under the U-Haul words. The Richmond Highlands park is to the west. Shorewood HS playing fields are on N 170th.


Safety: As a low-barrier facility that is required to accept patrons who may be sex offenders, on drugs or have history of arrests; We are concerned this facility will bring such persons from across Bothell, Cottage Lake, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, and Woodinville into our neighborhood. 

This facility shares its boundary with a child daycare, is 10 yards from a kids’ Baseball training center, less than 200 yards from the Shoreline Recreation Center and Meridian Baseball Field that hosts students’ Baseball games all year long, and about 500 yards from Shorewood High School. 

With the potential surge of patrons for the homeless facility from across King County, we will see overflows resulting in increased encampments within our community. These encampments are in such close proximity to facilities children often use unattended that we are concerned for the mental health and safety risk of our children. 

Our fears already turned true on 08/04/2020 when Shoreline City Police arrested two homeless people who were using Richmond Highland Rec Center’s restroom to use drugs, while there were 20 kids using the baseball ground at that very moment. This is not an isolated incident and setting up a low barrier facility does not solve such problems but only brings more of such people to our community.

As Diane Pfeil, the owner of the daycare center adjacent to the proposed Navigation Center expressed, “I have been a licensed childcare provider serving the Shoreline community from this location for the last 32 years. I worked hard with families to provide a safe environment for children to learn and grow. 
"Parents are already expressing concern about the safety of the community environment their children will be in, if this homeless shelter goes in. This has a direct impact on my ability to continue operating a business that supports many local families. “



It's unfortunate that the City Council’s response to these concerns is to cite absence of regulations to protect kids’ facilities. Quoting the Council from 08/10 meeting “There are no regulations about proximity to parks, schools, daycare or things like that. Current homeless regulations are based on operational considerations like the code of conduct that was mentioned previously." 

Regulations should not be the only thing that stops the City Council from making decisions, we deserve to think about the safety and security of the children in our community.

Long-term impact: King County does not guarantee funding for the homeless shelter’s upkeep in perpetuity and the City Council has so far not proposed any increase in Police funding to guarantee safety of our community. We also do not see adequate plans to address the City's reduced tax revenue from loss of property value across the neighborhood, which will further affect school and police funding. 

For example, residents of the neighborhood in Vancouver where a Navigation Center is located said it took 7 months for their neighborhood to become unrecognizable. The most common complaints were people being harassed, urination and human defecation everywhere, and people using drugs in plain sight. 

The neighborhood around 12th and Dearborn has evolved to be known as a drug dealing location and “under the police radar” for high traffic of stolen items. The City has not communicated an adequate plan to sustain redevelopment projects in this segment of Aurora Ave, when facilities like Therapeutic Health Service for drug addicts and homeless shelter for drug addicts becomes the center of Shoreline City. This affects the long-term growth of Shoreline.

You can learn more about the project here and voice your opinion by writing to the Shoreline City Council on the proposal, or registering to speak in the council meeting (reference Action 9a) held each Monday.


9 comments:

Heavydee August 16, 2020 at 9:27 AM  

As 20 year residents of Shoreline we’ve attended MANY council meetings and have come to realize in matters like these EVERY TIME the decision has already been made. Citizen comments are ONLY for “appearances” that our voices matter. This homeless shelter will go through despite all the safety concerns of the neighborhood residents affected. When will common sense return to our city council and voices of the taxpaying citizens be heard? We fled Seattle 20 years ago. Is it time to flee Shoreline?

Yuanyuan August 16, 2020 at 12:27 PM  

I was shocked at this news. I have a 4 year old kid, this is really disturbing. I am so concerned about the safety of our kids.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2020 at 3:19 PM  

Ms. Jothiprakash, four members of the Shoreline City Council are up for election next year. I would love to see your name challenging one of them. You speak for me.

Anonymous,  August 17, 2020 at 4:26 PM  

"Do something about homelessness!"

(city and county create a facility to help homeless people)

"Not THAT!"

Unknown August 17, 2020 at 5:37 PM  

Re: Homelessness in Shoreline and proposed Homeless Shelter
Our family has lived ____ from Arden Rehab for over 12 years. I am a retired daycare teacher so I understand Ms. Pfeil's concern. I am so proud of Shoreline City's decision to support Hopelink near Aurora Ave. N. It has provided security, necessities, and safety for struggling families for many years and I expect that the same will be provided to homeless adults at the proposed King County Shelter. Shoreline citizens can become part of the SOLUTION of taking care of the less fortunate, rather than ASSUMING that they will be problematic based on tales from other cities. Let's rise above the adage: "Not in my backyard" and try:"You are worthy and deserving of help". In Shoreline I walk our numerous trails and encounter homeless people. They frequent business parking lots where I shop. I lived for 25 years one block from Paramount Park Natural Space where homeless people hung out. The police would give them bus money and tell them to "go somewhere else". But some neighbors planted extra vegetables in their gardens so the wandering homeless could share in the bounty. I stopped saying: "Get lost" and said instead: "What is your name? What is your story?". Let's offer shelter and safety within our community and work together to solve problems that arise rather than push those problems onto some other community. The City Council is right to seriously consider needed change. The homeless will stay on the streets, public spaces, or wander shopping centers - or will we allow them a place that is safe for them AND us?

BB,  August 19, 2020 at 4:18 PM  

If this shelter operates under the same (lack of) rules as the other 2 shelters, ASSUMING the outcome will be different fits the classic definition of insanity. I would like to hear how lessons learned there will be applied to make results from this shelter better. I am listening ...

Concerned shoreline resident August 23, 2020 at 1:53 PM  

Most of us shoreline residents have worked hard to have a safe home and neighborhood Great job council put all of us in danger by taking in the people that don’t care about anyone or anything but where their going to get their next fix what house do they break into or who will they hurt. We are starting to look a lot light Seattle pretty sad and we pay higher taxes

Anonymous,  August 24, 2020 at 10:25 AM  

Im glad help is coming for these people that are thrown to the shadows of society and are no longer seen as human to the suburban masses. A lot of people focus on homeless people being the problem instead of seeing them as the actual human beings they are. Will there be issues? Yes, these people desperatly need help and support. We need to address homelessness in the light of day and not in the outskirts of society. Just because a person doesnt have a home doesnt make them more dangerous than a "composed" neighbor that can just as likely be doing drugs and worse.

Anonymous,  August 26, 2020 at 2:11 PM  

I know that Arden Hills served poor and disabled adults. I hope that this facilty when used for housing can target that demographic. We need to make sure this facilty is integrated into the community and not be a source of frustration.

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