Officials urge residents not to fight planned Crisis Solutions Center

People treated by the planned Crisis Solutions Center at 16th Ave S and S Lane St will not be violent offenders or have histories of violence, said representatives from the city, county and the Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) at a community meeting Tuesday night. Most people being admitted to the service will arrive in restraints and will not be able to leave the center without supervision, according to the officials who spoke. The majority of the meeting was spent trying to assure residents that the new center will be a good neighbor and will not make the area more dangerous.

“These people are in your community tonight, except they are not getting any help,” said Dan Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney for King County. Currently, there is no adequate solution for people with metal issues picked up on low-level misdemeanors or people in the midst of a mental crisis. People are often held for extended periods of time while the court and mental health systems try to determine if the person is competent to stand trial for a small misdemeanor charge. The process is very expensive and rarely produces a healthy result for the alleged misdemeanants.

A robust discussion about the center has taken place in CDN comments, here.

The Center is intended to be what Council member Sally Bagshaw called “The Third Way.” Instead of prison or the hospital, the center would be a chance to treat people. She said it would be “a much more humane and respectful place.” She also told an anecdote about a friend of her son who had a mental episode and was picked up and taken to jail. All he needed was some lithium, but instead he was picked up and taken to jail. She said Portland and Bellingham have similar centers that have proven effective.

Resident concerns were mostly about safety and what people saw as a tendency by the city to place services like these within their neighborhood instead of spreading the “burden,” as one resident put it, to other areas.

“I’m tired of the city dumping on this neighborhood, and I want to fight this,” said a long-time resident. People also asked several times, Why put this center in a residential area?

Bill Hobson, Director of the DESC and resident of the neighborhood, said the building is not in a residential zone, but rather it is zoned commercial. However, it is in an “edge” zone, meaning property on one side of it is residential while the other side is commercial. The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) determined that the Crisis Solutions Center is an appropriate use of the space.

However, Hobson’s answer did little to calm the anger of residents, who voiced frustration with Hobson and what they saw as a failure to keep the neighborhood informed about the project until it had already gone through. Hobson said the lease deal did not go through until mid-October, and that he had gone to the Jackson Place Community Council just days afterward to start neighborhood outreach

Council member Tim Burgess told residents they have two options. They can organize and work with the Center to ensure that their interests are protected at each step of the Center’s planning and operations, or they can fight the Center by either suing or trying to block the building permits. He urged them to work with the Center instead of saying, “Not in our neighborhood.”

36 thoughts on “Officials urge residents not to fight planned Crisis Solutions Center

  1. “People treated …will not be violent offenders or have histories of violence.”

    Did anyone who attended the meeting ask how this will be determined? Will staff run a NCIC criminal background check looking for arrest history for violent acts, and then…what…transport the person elsewhere if they DO have such histories?

  2. I was at the meeting last night and had the same concern. I don’t recall if someone specifically asked if there would be background checks performed, but i kind of got the feeling there wouldn’t be. It seemed like the individuals would be picked up for small offenses (trespassing, urinating in public, etc.), evaluated by the first responder to see if they’re a candidate for the Center, and then transported there, if so. Please, someone who was there last night feel free to correct me.
    But if they don’t do background checks, how can they be sure (if even then), that they’re not transporting someone with serious issues to the Center when they should really be going to someplace more secure? I keep reading more and more distressing stories in the news about random attacks on innocent people (Kimberly Cates murder in New Hampshire, Channon Christian/Christopher Newsom double murder in Tennessee, etc.). How do we know we’re not bringing people like that into our neighborhood? Though critics please note, as far as I’m aware, neither mental illness nor substance abuse were determined by the courts to be a factor in those murders….they’re just the ones that came to mind.

  3. I attended the meeting and found the entire process incredibly condescending to the residents of the neighborhood.

    I feel that the options presented of either staying quiet and taking it for the good of the city or fight the project and lose all input into the center’s running was incredibly insulting to the families and business owners that call this neighborhood home.

    The fact is that this is a novel type of center, that no enviornmental impact study was done to determine its possible affects on its neighbors, and DESC has no idea exactly how this center is to be run.

    It is to house 16 +35 beds for mentally ill and drug addicted patients, that are able to leave after 36 hours if they chose to because they are there voluntarily.

    This project will adversely impact the property values of the neighborhood and will pose public safety risks for its neighbors.

    I urge all to fight this project!!!! The Central District cannot be the dumping ground for all the social service organizations of the City.

  4. gave the most asinine comment of the evening, saying that she was fine with all the DESC-type centers in downtown where she lives, so we should be fine with this facility. Well, Sally, I’m sure you live in a 40-story condo building with a secured entry, and if the cops were bringing people in custody down your hall to a treatment center on your floor 10 times a day you might see it differently. She was totally irrelevant, out of touch, and condescending to the neighborhood.

  5. Here are the numbers to call on the permits for them to put the “Crisis Center in our Neighborhood.
    Depending on what point in the permitting process it is in, you can contact the Public Resource Center at 206-684-8467 or Code Compliance to list your concerns at 206-615-0808. For general information she can call 206-684-8600.
    If enough of us call in our concerns it just might help our cause.

  6. Yeah, the thread author’s statement “People treated …will not be violent offenders or have histories of violence” is a ridiculous one unless SPD (who can run NCIC) are the only folks bringing clients there.

  7. To be clear, the statement referred to was a summary of messages from the city officials, etc. at last night’s meeting. I’ve edited the first paragraph to make it more clear.

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more. The feeling I got after the meeting was that I was supposed to be thankful that these individuals came up with this great idea for our neighborhood, and I should feel guilty for even questioning the idea of not supporting this facility blindly.

    The meeting provided no answers. I was frustrated with the lack of direct answers from any of the panel Wasn’t this what the meeting was all about?

    Bottom line: A new project like this should be “experimented” elsewhere and nowhere near a residential area. I thank those who voiced their opinions last night.

  9. Director of DESC, Bill Hobson has had a history of promoting his organization’s projects at the expense of the surrounding neighbors and under the guise of saving money for the City.

    Just in case people have forgotten…

    Click here: Local News | Trophy shop for sale; owner is fed up with alcoholic neighbors | Seattle Times Newspaper

    Trophy shop for sale; owner is fed up with alcoholic neighbors
    A trophy shop that got a controversial new next-door neighbor 16 months ago…an apartment building housing 75 of Seattle’s most sickly alcoholics.

    By Stuart Eskenazi
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    A trophy shop that got a controversial new next-door neighbor 16 months ago — an apartment building housing 75 of Seattle’s most sickly street alcoholics — is searching for a new downtown location at which to do business.

    Robb Anderson, a partner in Northwest Trophy, said the family-owned business has put its 2,200-square-foot building on the sales block because of what he describes as continual nuisances related to the apartment house next door.

    “I know every business has nuisances they have to deal with, but the problem is they put 75 of them right next to me,” Anderson said.

    But Bill Hobson, executive director of Downtown Emergency Service Center, which manages the apartment, said Anderson’s complaints are “more driven by his bitterness toward this project than by any factual reality.”

    Anderson said problems include trespassing, filth, noise and the inconvenience of having the store’s parking lot blocked by medical-aid vehicles that respond to emergencies at the four-story apartment building.

    According to Seattle Fire Department statistics, 222 emergency-response calls were made to the apartment building in 2006, with 45 more calls logged during the first three months of 2007.

    But Hobson said the city striped a loading zone in front of the building about seven months ago so that emergency vehicles have a place to park without blocking Northwest Trophy’s lot.

    “It’s a medically fragile population, and there are a lot of aid calls,” Hobson said. “I’ve instructed staff that we always err on [the side of] taking care of clients. If we need to get a paramedic response, that’s what we do.”

    The apartment building, called 1811 Eastlake, opened in December 2005 as a way to get chronic alcoholics off the street and into safe, secure housing. As a lure, tenants are allowed to drink as much as they want inside their rooms — a recognition that chronic alcoholics are unlikely ever to go sober. Tenants of 1811 Eastlake are allowed to come and go as they please, although the number of visitors is restricted.

    In return, tenants must agree to standards of behavior that include being conscientious neighbors. Public drunkenness in and around the building is not allowed, and repeated violations can subject a tenant to eviction.

    Northwest Trophy, which has been in business for almost 70 years, has operated out of its small building for the last 29 of them.

    “The garbage I have to deal with … some guy urinating in front of my building,” Anderson said. “Is it those tenants who are responsible? I can’t tell you that the answer is always yes. But that stuff didn’t happen before they got here.”

    Hobson said 1811’s residents do not loiter outside the trophy shop and Anderson is the only neighbor still complaining about the apartment.

    “We police his property,” Hobson said. “Our staff are instructed to look around his property because he has made a lot of complaints. Occasionally, we’ll see an empty beer can, but we’re not sure if it’s from our residents or passers-by.”


    The $11.2 million apartment project, financially backed by the city, county and state, was built only after a failed legal challenge mounted by the Benaroya Co., which owned an office-tower complex in the area that it has since sold. The trophy shop was a party in the suit.

    “Robb Anderson seems like he’s determined to be the last dog in this fight,” Hobson said. “I feel like this guy is inconsolable. We’ve enacted a set of protocols, and we’ve been pretty good at faithfully implementing those.”

    Al Poole, director of homelessness intervention for Seattle’s Department of Human Services, said he followed through on several of the trophy shop’s complaints and was unable to determine whether 1811 Eastlake residents are causing the problems. He said the city is receiving no other complaints from businesses in the area.

    “We think we’ve addressed a number of the trophy shop’s complaints,” said Poole, who was instrumental in establishing the loading zone in front of the building. “We obviously can’t make them happy because 1811 simply being there is something that makes them unhappy.”

    Tenants of 1811 Eastlake have been addicted to alcohol at least 15 years and failed at alcohol treatment at least six times. They are chosen off a list of people identified by King County as having drained the most emergency and criminal-justice resources from the community.

    Saving money

    The philosophy behind the housing program, which is the first of its kind in Washington and only the second in the country, is that taxpayer money will be saved by reducing that population’s visits to emergency rooms, jails and detox centers.

    Anderson said he has no argument with emergency-response personnel who block the entrance to his parking lot, saying “they’re just doing their job. But I feel like our business is being disrupted for nothing that we’ve done. I think we have been patient. But now we are over a year into this thing and we’re at the point where we just need to move.”

    He said he has had to absorb increased expenses related to delivering trophies to customers who elect to no longer pick up at the store. The customers prefer delivery now because either they can no longer find parking or they fear being harassed by loiterers in the area, he said.

    “I have never once had a customer or an employee or one of our owners disrupt the day-to-day operation or vandalize their property over there,” Anderson said. “That’s all I ask of mine, but they can’t guarantee that.”

    Hobson said one resident with dementia once wandered into the trophy shop by mistake and was brought back to 1811 by an apartment staffer. He said another resident once admitted to urinating in the trophy shop’s parking lot. That resident wrote a letter of apology and swept the parking lot for two weeks, Hobson said.

    Northwest Trophy has listed its building at $1.1 million, and Anderson said he is unsure whether his new neighbor will adversely affect the value of the property.

    “Things might be different for a developer or a different type of business owner,” said Anderson, adding that he approached Downtown Emergency Service Center about buying the property, but that the agency price was way below $1.1 million.

    Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or [email protected]

  10. Ballard, Fremont, Phinney Ridge, Magnolia, Ravenna, Laurelhurst (HaHa — right!), Wedgewood, Northpark, Greenwood, Viewridge, Queen Ann Hill = 11 possible solutions.

  11. I also attended the meeting and left feeling extremely frustrated. I live across the street from the proposed site of the Crisis Center and feel that Bill Hobson and other members of the DESC & Seattle City Council are completely out of touch with the impact this Crisis Center will have on the S Lane St neighborhood.

    Bill Hobson, executive director the DESC said the location was chosen because 1) it was the cheapest bid and 2) it’s zoned commercial. This one commercial lot is embedded in a residential neighborhood and no Environmental Impact Studies have been done to gain a full understanding on the impact this center will have on our community.

    As a resident of this community, I feel railroaded by the DESC. And this isn’t the first time the DESC has tried to force their programs into a community without researching the impact to residents or engaging the community prior to finalizing plans:

    The DESC was UNABLE to provide any concrete plans or procedures for the Crisis Center but *assured* residents that the center will be safe. Really? Do we come across as being that naive? I don’t think so.

    The DESC is a city and government funded program that receives a portion of their funding from a tax measure passed in 2008. OUR tax dollars are helping to fund this program – as residents of King County, don’t we have a right to say we don’t want to house this Crisis Center in our neighborhood?

  12. wait, those are all residential areas also. So is it okay to put it in a residential area or not? Is it just not your neighborhood or is it just not in a neighborhood?

  13. Just want to clarify a couple things I read in these comments.

    1. Patients cannot leave for the first 72 hours, not 36.
    2. The center must be located near the intersection of I-90 and I-5 so most Seattle neighborhood’s are not eligible.

    It takes a lot of organizing to get all those important and busy people on the DESC panel in one room. That is why I was completely underwhelmed with the outreach DESC has done to the community. They have the capacity to reach out to all those elected officials but not to the dozens of families in our neighborhood that do not speak English? The audience on Tuesday night was not reflective of the demographics of our neighborhood and that is a direct result of DESC’s refusal to provide translators or translated materials.

    If DESC wants to work with the community like they say they better start showing it or they will lose the few supporters of the project they have.

  14. The DESC claimed the Crisis Center needs to be located close to I-90 and I-5, but I find that hard to believe. Tukwila was the first location the DESC wanted to site the Crisis Center, but community members banned together in opposition and now the DESC is looking to place the center on S Lane St in the Jackson Place Community. You can read the minutes from the meeting here:

    It’s very enlightening to learn how DESC plans to operate this facility…much of what was discussed in the Tukwila meeting was never mentioned to the Jackson Place Community. As stated in the meeting notes “Councilmember Hernandez asked if the clients of the Crisis Diversion Facility would be allowed to leave the facility during their stay. Mr. Andrus clarified that legally the facility could not prevent a client from leaving the facility. The CDIS/CDF would be a controlled facility with the comings and goings of participants being monitored. He explained that DESC has a lot of experience with this type of program and engaging clients so they want to participate in the programs being offered.” Not encouraging…what happens when someone leaves the facility? No one has an answer.

    In addition, it was citied that “These facilities are for individuals in crisis, and individuals participating in the CDIS have been deemed too dangerous to return to shelters. If that were the case, he questioned why these types of facilities would be located within direct proximity to the vibrant family-oriented facility of Southcenter Mall…Locating a facility such as the CDF and CDIS would put economic vitality at risk…The idea that the City would consider locating these facilities within walking distance of the mall is disturbing. The public needs to better understand these types of facilities and the security of the individuals at the facilities.”

    How can the DESC consider placing this type of facility in a residential neighborhood? If Tukwila had these concerns, isn’t it legitimate for the Jackson Place Community to have the same concerns?

  15. I found this meeting to be another example of oppressive government and a “shove it” attitude towards minority neighborhoods. Disgusting.

  16. Re: The solution
    “Ballard, Fremont, Phinney Ridge, Magnolia, Ravenna, Laurelhurst (HaHa — right!), Wedgewood, Northpark, Greenwood, Viewridge, Queen Ann Hill = 11 possible solutions.”

    Jennifer, yes they are “residential” but also have “commercial” sections as well as the neighborhood they are placing this facility in. I think the point is that our neighborhood gets picked because we are not as “financially-able” to successfully oppose them.

  17. They are in for a rezone. Make comment to DPD and take it befroe the hearing examiner and further. They have to do a non-project SEPA, write letters during the comment period and appeal it to the hearing examinier. Do not be emotional in your comments but get them on actual impacts. Read the SEPA checklist submitted and be technical in your comments.
    Sue the non-profit and sue the director seperatly. One suit should be based on loss of equity, easy to prove. The main concept is to make what they think will be an easy dump into regulatory hell for them. Also the director will not like a personal suit filed against him, it prevents him from conducting any financal agreements until it is settled. They will think twice before they try this again if were sucessful.
    Just do not be guilt tripped into accepting what no other neighborhood would accept.

  18. This is from the April 2010 minutes from the Tukwila City Council meeting:
    The original RFP issued by King County specified that the location be “A centralized location with easy access and at least two routes to the facility by freeway and/or major arterials. The ideal location would be south of downtown Seattle and north of Southcenter and routes that easily access the East Side.” The new RFP has changed that location requirement pertaining to the CDF, by saying: “A centralized location with easy access to the facility by freeway and/or major arterials.”

  19. Read the minutes you posted from the Tukwila City Council meeting again. First you will see that King County’s RFP process for the project requires what you find so hard to believe. Second, you will see that community members did not ban together to stop the project. Unless you count the owner of Southcenter Mall who you quoted (who lives in Seattle).

  20. I agree. an emotional appeal is not going to work. we need to find a legal remedy. I don’t think sueing for loss of anykind will work untill after they are intrenched in our neighborhood. Once that happens they will be there till the money runs out. What is a SEPA? we need to tie them up in the permit process. They folded in Southcenter, but there I think they were looking for a zone change. I guess they don’t need one here.

  21. I do not believe that DESC is attempting to rezone the property. I think they are just applying for a change of use from light industrial to institutional.

    I am not certain that they meet the institutional definition as their operation is run more like a jail (not allowed in the C2-40 zone) than a hospital.

    The zoning at 1600 S Lane is C2-40

    Chart of permitted uses in commercial zones.

    I am curious about their use of the land use definition of “Institution” which seems to be a catchall category (see below).

    I assume that they are using sub para 6.

    6. “Hospital” means an institution that provides accommodations, facilities
    and services over a continuous period of twenty-four (24) hours or more, for
    observation, diagnosis and care of individuals who are suffering from
    illness, injury, deformity or abnormality or from any condition requiring
    obstetrical, medical or surgical services, or alcohol or drug
    detoxification. This definition excludes nursing homes.

    A more accurate definition would seem to be residential, or jail (since
    participants would be going to King County Jail if not at DESC).

  22. SEPA is the State Environmental Policy Act. They must submit a SEPA Checklist to DPD. Ask for a copy of what they submittedand the name of the planner handeling the application.

  23. Why are you all upset with this proposal? These people need to be housed in an appropriate location. It just silly to propose locating them in Ballard, Wallingford or even Madrona, those are nice neighborhoods.
    So lets just accept this from those who know more, learn from them and we can all get along. Lets put this silly negativity behind us and make this a learning experience. As somebody wrote earlier, this kind of neighborhood may need these services, so think how lucky you are that it just a short walk away.

  24. That’s not even halfway funny. I hope nobody takes your sarcastic bait. King County needs these services and the RFP process sets a criteria for where they need to be. The criteria includes accessibility and safety issues. Our neighborhood fits the criteria because we are accessible to the entire county and have available property that works and is zoned correctly. The center won’t take walk ins but I’d be happy if anyone right here needed the service and it becomes available.

    You are only a short ride away from the crisis center and if you need to come for a visit we will welcome you to our nice neighborhood too.

  25. Why Jennifer, your being silly with all this mistaken hostility, of course the county needs this, just in an appropriate neighborhood. I agree with you, nice neighborhoods do not fit the criteria you so truly stated. I am so glad your warmly accepting this. You should make time for a teaching moment for all your neighbors!
    Have to go now, I am meeting friends at a new organic Thai place off 45th, then off to my Yoga class at Greenlake. Silly me, you wouldn’t know about such things.

  26. While your over there pretending that’s where you live, don’t forget to stop and say hi to your buddy the troll under the bridge in Fremont.

  27. Silly silly Jennifer.

    You make a compelling case. It just your hostility, but thats to be expected down there.


  28. Ignorance must but be bliss for you Seattle Guy.

    Oh and if you care to state your opinion in a matter that clearly doesn’t effect your neighborhood, you might want to learn proper grammar & spelling before throwing sarcastic insults.

  29. Silly Kristin, of course it does not effect my neighborhood, thank you all for that, especially Jennifer for her learning experience posts.

    Yes the Troll is one of many wonder pieces of public art we have throughout MOST of Seattle. Silly me again, you wouldn’t know about such things as well.

  30. LOL. Kristin, I knew there had to be a situation where we would agree with each other. :)

    Seattle Guy is obviously a troll that doesn’t understand the finer things in life like grammar and spelling. It’s something we obviously have a handle on even while living in the ghetto.

  31. Hypothetically, If you had to pick:

    Would you rather

    A)have someone like “Seattle Guy” as your neighbor- a person who can move in with or without neighborhood approval


    B)have an Agency with a longstanding reputation in the city that really does care about serving it’s mission and being a good neighbor?

  32. Oh Jennifer, you DO work for this agency, I thought so. Thank you for posting this wonder teaching monent for them. Silly me, I really did think you really lived down there. Maybe I’ll see you strolling 45th.


  33. Perfectly fine to have this in the neighborhood. There are already a lot of homeless, mentally ill, among them, in the district. It’s always distressing to read/watch/listen to news of “neighbors” in different districts of Seattle and King County complaining or worse about planned homeless shelters, halfway houses, homeless encampments for the homeless in houses of worship or on their lawns. We can do better.

  34. The Jackson Place Alliance for Equity is an organized neighborhood group focused on addressing concerns about siting the DESC’s Crisis Diversion Facility and Crisis Diversion Interim Service in the Jackson Place Community neighborhood, located in the Central Area of Seattle. To learn more about our efforts and how you can support the JPAE, please visit