The Jackson Place Alliance for Equity has filed an appeal to King County Superior Court challenging building permits for the Downtown Emergency Services Center’s planned Crisis Solutions Center at 16th Ave S and S Lane St. The Department of Planning and Development granted the permits earlier this month, concluding that the proposed facility is most similar to a hospital and is, therefore, a permitted use for the proposed location.
However, the JPAE has argued that the facility is more like a jail than a hospital, which would not be permitted at the site without a lengthy public process. The group also alleges that the facility’s wide political support biased the DPD’s decision to issue the permits.
The planned facility, which is unlike any other in King County, is intended as a way to bypass sending people in the midst of a mental crisis to either jail or the emergency room, both of which are extremely expensive to the city and county and do not meet the needs of the person having a crisis. Instead, a person without a violent history could be referred to the Crisis Solutions Center where mental health professionals can help them through the issue. Participation in the Crisis Solutions Center would be voluntary, according to the DESC. However, patients would not simply be let out into the neighborhood without accompaniment by DESC staff.
For more background on the facility, see our previous story.
From the JPAE’s press release:
In Nov 2010, the JPAE submitted a Request for Interpretation with DPD concerning DESC’s proposed development of the crisis solutions center in the Jackson Place community. Since filing the Request for Interpretation, JPAE obtained public records that indicate the crisis facility has been endorsed by several City and County elected officials and agency heads, including the City Executive, Council members, and the City Attorney. Public records also reveal emails sent by City elected officials and the DESC enlisting the DPD in facilitating quick approval and construction without public review.
On April 6th JPAE received a decision from DPD regarding the Request for Interpretation stating the crisis diversion facility is considered a permissible use under the Land Use Code. Permits were issued to DESC the same day.
JPAE maintains that the Request for Interpretation and the process under which permits were issued to DESC was not given a full, transparent, public review process. As a result, JPAE has filed legal action in Superior Court seeking an impartial, unbiased review of the siting of the crisis solutions center on South Lane Street.