Community Post

DESC proposed jail facility in Jackson Place update

Dear All CD Neighbors,

The Jackson Place Alliance for Equity (JPAE) would like to provide an important

update on the status of the legal petition filed in King County Superior Court

on April 25, 2011 seeking an impartial, unbiased review of the siting of DESC’s

crisis diversion facility at 1600-1618 South Lane St.

JPAE’s attorney, through many hours of research, investigating and most

recently, the deposition of one of DPD’s Land Use Code experts, has filed an

opening brief dated August 22, 2011. A final review hearing between JPAE v City

of Seattle, DESC, C.J. & J Pacific LLC, William Hobson and King County is

scheduled for Friday September 30th at 9am. For more details, please visit

A copy of the brief in its entirety can be found on JPAE’s website

 The brief is lengthy and we hope you

will take the time to read it thoroughly, as it provides details and information

of how the crisis diversion facility came to be sited at 1600-1618 South Lane



Jackson Place Alliance for Equity

Below is a summary of the brief:

On April 2, 2010, King County P.A. Chief of Staff Manion provided updates to the

MIDD co-chairs, City Councilmembers and their aides, County representatives, and

both County and City attorneys regarding efforts to site the Crisis Diversion

Facility and indicated that the County would like to add an addendum to the RFP

“to let potential bidders know that they can consider sites in Seattle. . . .

What he’d like to have to include in the addendum is either a copy of the City’s

letter to the MIDD oversight committee or permission to drop a Seattle

Councilmember’s name (or two) that helps explain this new piece of info.”

City Attorney Holmes responded the same day, “I am glad to see so much progress,

and anxious to help sustain the momentum.” His Chief of Staff, Ms. DuComb, also

e-mailed that “Pete is happy to sign the letter and supports locating the

facility in Seattle. Just let me or Kim know, and we can get his ink on paper.”

On Saturday, April 3, 2010, DPD Director Diane Sugimura e-mailed Deputy Director

Justad, DPD Director of Planning Foster and other DPD staff, including Bryan

Stevens, Customer Service Manager and Industrial Permit Liaison in DPD’s

Community Engagement regarding her meeting with Mayor McGinn the day before,

Friday afternoon, April 2, 2010. Director Sugimura explained that she had

discussed several items with Mayor McGinn, including in particular finding a

site for the Crisis Diversion Facility: “They are very interested in helping to

find an appropriate site…” “…please contact Kathy Nyland to see if their office

is willing to approach whomever is in charge at KC and ask that we sit down with

them and discuss options, so we could try to get some control over siting rather

than having everyone running around trying to tie up property.”

The following day, Sunday April 4, 2010, Councilmember Bagshaw e-mailed Law

Department Chief of Staff DuComb regarding siting of the Crisis Diversion

Facility: “The only caution I’ve received from anyone is to avoid Pioneer Square

because the Council promised not to put more social services in that area right


Councilmember Bagshaw sent a similar e-mail to King County P.A. Chief of Staff

Manion, making sure that the City’s letter of support was received, observing

“This is the kind of intergovernmental cooperation that we need!” and

cautioning: “The only limitation I’ve heard from my colleagues is to avoid

Pioneer Square because there’s an agreement (personal, not legal I understand)

not to put more social services in Pioneer Square. 5th Avenue, 9th Avenue, or

anywhere close to the jail/admin will probably work without too many


Ms. Manion responded, “I hear you loud and clear on the Pioneer Square issue – –

no worries. I think we can direct our FMD real estate team to focus on sites

that are a little closer to the jail and Harborview.”

On April 6, 2010, Derek Farmer, a Policy Analyst in Mayor McGinn’s office,

contacted Deputy Director Justad by e-mail about Councilmember Bagshaw’s

suggestion about siting the crisis diversion center in a Martin Selig building

located at 5th and Yesler. Mr. Justad followed up, noting that Ms. Sugimura “was

planning to talk to Selig or one of his staff.” Deputy Director Justad also sent

Mr. Farmer the “zoning overview we sent to Sally B last week at her request.”

Between April 9, 2010 and April 12, 2010, Director Sugimura exchanged several

emails with Councilmember Bagshaw concerning the siting of the facility and Ms.

Sugimura’s meeting with Martin Selig. Director Sugimura explained, “I got the

impression you wanted to be proactive in terms of finding a site, rather than

waiting to see what happens.” Councilmember Bagshaw then invited Director

Sugimura to talk with her and King County’s Facilities Director Brown “about

where we can site this Crisis Diversion Facility!”

By July 7, 2010, King County had selected DESC as the provider for the Crisis

Diversion Facility. On that date, DESC Director Bill Hobson e mailed DESC

architect John Woodworth that DESC was “just . . . selected to do all of the

County’s new crisis diversion program. (We will be using the Lane Street site. .

.). The DESC Director celebrated landing the CDF contract to DESC`s architect in

something other than social service terms, enthusing that it was, “A new $6M

annual book of business.” (July 9, 2010 e-mail from DESC’s Jessica Cohen to DESC

architect Woodworth: “I think Bill shared with you that we got the CDF portion

of the County’s RFP so the Lane St site is a go for both CDF and CDIS.”).

Two weeks later, on August 17, 2010, Seattle City Councilmember Bagshaw e-mailed

DPD Director Sugimura again: “I have been working with the King County

Prosecuting Attorney’s office and the King County’s mental health group for

years to create an alternative for police to putting people with mental illness

in jail or at Harborview Medical Center. I recently learned that DESC was

awarded the RFP for the Crisis Diversion Facility and they have a site in

Seattle they are ready to remodel. Amnon Shoenfeld from King County told me that

the Department of Planning and Development said getting the permits necessary

for a change of use and for the environmental impact process will take 5-7

months instead of the usual 2-3 months due to their being short-staffed. The

money is available and the building is needed. I know you are short staffed and

doing more than any department should have to do in face of all these budget

problems, but can we do anything to move this project forward?”

October 6, 2010, Mr. Hobson requested a meeting with Ms. Sugimura, appealing to

the need to save the County and City “a lot of money:” “Unfortunately, I need to

ask for your help again because we have hit snags that could delay permitting

for this project by months.” His e-mail continues, “I sincerely hope there is

some way we can work together to expedite permitting for this project. It

promises to save both the County and City a lot of money each year in reduced

hospitalizations and incarcerations. Thanks for your assistance.”

DPD planner Swallow responded in an October 11, 2011 e-mail noting that DESC

architect John Woodworth had warned her that pressure would be brought to bear:

“John has told me from the beginning that the County is wanting this project

d ASAP and when I told him originally that the Type II process takes at

least six months to complete he told me people would be calling you.”

DPD Land Use and Zoning Manager Roberta Baker also weighed in on October 11,

2010, explaining that DESC was “appealing to Diane to have us waive the need for

an. However, there is no provision in the Land Use Code for “waiver” of a

required ACU.”

October 18, 2010 e-mail, the Mayor’s Legal Counsel Mr. Marquardt made it clear

to everyone that the public was not to be informed of the project location: “I

understand the location of the proposed site has not been announced, pending

outreach to residents, so we should preserve confidentiality on the specifics.”

October 19, 2010, although DESC had yet to actually submit its application to

DPD, DESC Director Hobson informed every Seattle City Councilmember that DESC

had completed land use reviews with City staff from the Department of Planning

and Development and are assured our use will be approved.

On October 27, 2010, DESC Director Hobson e-mailed Councilmember Burgess,

Councilmember Bagshaw, King County P.A. Deputy Chief of Staff Goodhew, City

Attorney Holmes, Sheriff Rahr, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, SPD

Deputy Chief of Operations Nick Metz, and King County’s Mr. Shoenfeld and Jackie

MacLean. Hobson’s email invites all of the recipients to attend a public

informational meeting scheduled for November 9, 2010 to (finally) let the

neighborhood know what they had all known for months.

The next day, City Attorney Holmes, Councilmember Bagshaw, and Councilmember

Burgess commented on the informational meeting. Councilmember Bagshaw was

effusive in her praise for DESC and in her disrespect for her constituents (whom

she referred to as “the beast”) who had questioned whether the site was

appropriate: “I too, want to sing your praises. I was very impressed at how you

handled the crowd, and your honest and direct answers calmed the beast. You did

well.” She then reaffirmed, “I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you to get

this Crisis Solution Center built.”

Consistent with its assurances in response to pointed inquiries on behalf of

DESC from Councilmembers, City Attorney, County Prosecuting Attorney, and the

Mayor’s office, there was no land use public notice or public hearing and

comment period before (or after) DPD drafted and issued the decisions [regarding

the land use code request for interpretation and subsequently the land use

permit issued to DESC].

The Court’s Order allowed one deposition, a JPAE deposition of DPD’s Andy McKim,

the author of the DPD Land Use Code Interpretation Decisions. Mr. McKim’s

deposition on August 11, 2011, was revealing, perhaps unintentionally so, on the

City’s part. Mr. McKim stated that City Council is not supposed to have any role

in determining how DPD “interpret[s] the land use code,” that “we raise our

eyebrows . . . when somebody from City Council is telling us how to read the

code,” and that the issues presented here are ones on which the City Council has

no role.

Mr. McKim stated flatly that he had kept no notes of any kind concerning DESC’s

project or his Interpretation decisions. Mr. McKim admitted that he did not

check any of the factual premises that he had adopted in his Interpretation from

the letters on the Interpretation submitted by DESC and its attorney. He did not

even know the name or operator of the supposedly “similar facility operating on

the same model in Pierce” relied upon in his Interpretation decision, had never

been to the facility, had never talked to anyone who operates it, did not check

its zoning, and accepted the statistics provided by DESC regarding the Pierce

County facility without any verification.

The [DPD] Interpretation claims that the DESC facility is a “hospital” based on

the “entire record,” including “information about the services offered and the

nature of the staffing and physical components of the facility as described in

the RFP and as reflected in the submitted plans,” as well as on information

provided by DESC regarding the percentage of “clients” that will be referred by

entities other than the police. DPD’s McKim, the Interpretation’s author, was

not familiar with even key elements of the DPD record. He could offer no basis

for the premises in his Interpretation decision because they had come, without

any pretense of verification by DPD, from DESC and its attorney.

The facility is not a hospital. It is not open to the public; people will not be

able to “walk-in” to the facility or even make an appointment to be seen. The

actual record reflects that the DESC facility is first and foremost one for

detention as part of an alternative to jail – a jail diversion program.

0 thoughts on “DESC proposed jail facility in Jackson Place update

  1. After reading this summary, I can see that there was a lot of effort spent trying to hide this facility from the community. Why do that if it is the right location? Why call it a “hospital” if it is indeed a detention facility? These things make me suspicious – why not just be up front and open if you are applying the laws of our city/county in an even-handed way?

    And Sally Bagshaw referring to we citizens as “the beast”? I think she just pushed me to campaign for whoever is running against her!

  2. Tom
    Could you post this as a major news story. Given the content and impact of this facility it needs to be given prime time. Yes you have had a couple of stories on this previously but given the latest developments, it is news.

  3. It’s closer to a hospital than a detention facility.

    Here’s the issue. There’s a lot of very mentally ill, drug addicted homeless in Seattle. Currently the typical procedure for dealing with them goes like this:

    1) They have a particularly bad mental health moment, or get really messed up on something, and the police are called for some minor infraction (wandering into traffic, disturbing the peace in a fast food restaurant or bus, urinating in public, etc.)

    2) They’re booked into jail briefly while awaiting a court hearing on the minor charges. The jailers see the mental health issues, say “We can’t hold them”, and send them up the hill to Harborview’s locked Mental Health floor.

    3) Harborview holds them on the 5th floor and provides treatment & medication until the patient is deemed mentally stable. The billing is handled as if it was an emergency room case – i.e. the hospital simply eats the cost for an uninsured patient. This is hospital care, and is not cheap.

    4) They’re released from Harborview back into Police custody, usually with doctor’s instructions and a prescription for some sort of psych med. They have their hearing, where either the city announces a decision not to procecute, or the judge issues a date for followup hearings or trial.

    5) They’re released back onto the street outside the courthouse at 3rd & James, with doctors instructions, an unfilled prescription, and (usually) a court date. Typically they head back down to The Jungle.

    6)The court date comes around, they don’t appear, an arrest warrant is issued, and the whole process starts over again. In the meantime, they’ve backslid and undone all of Harborview’s treatment.

    This facility is supposed to short-circuit this convoluted, expensive, unproductive process of juggling mentally ill drug addicts between SPD, Harborview, the Jail, and the Jungle by diverting them to a treatment center as early as possible. Treatment and housing in the CSS is supposed to be much cheaper (for the county) than playing musical chairs between the hospital and jail. It will also be more specialized to treat the unique problems presented by those with both mental illness and substance addiction, and be far more effective than a couple day stay in Harborview’s generally overworked, understaffed Mental Health department.

  4. It appears the public process was worse than flawed. A series of backroom (email) conversations and deals that circumvented community input. When the community was involved in a public meeting we became “the beast.” I wasn’t there, and I don’t know how we behaved. Perhaps we were beastly – I don’t know. Regardless, politicians need to keep their arrogance in check. So – lousy process.

    The product: It sounds like a necessary facility. Lackthereof gives a good rundown on the costs and pressures to both the caregivers and the “very mentally ill, drug addicted homeless.”

    What I’ve yet to hear is the impact to the community. The extremes are sure to be, “Don’t worry, be happy,” coming from KC and the city; and “WWZ” from some of us. What can we expect? Where are the studies, and data showing what has occurred in similar situations?

    I don’t think the onus for making a case is with the community. The powers that be need to come out from behind their email and provide some proof that a community that is still repairing itself from red lining, I-90, and the CD/South End Crack Wars will not be negatively impacted.

  5. So what you are saying is that the new 3rd andJames nightmare is now Lane St where they will be released. Children and families live there. How ugly. Sue to stop this!!!

  6. @LackThereof – None of what you described addresses the fact that the people behind this jail diversion didn’t follow the standard protocol for obtaining permits and siting a facility of this nature. If this program is so worthy and desperately needed (and is supposedly cheaper), then why didn’t DESC, city council members and the city attorney follow the law inside of using backroom tactics? Are they immune from following the same rules that the average tax payer has to follow?

  7. It appears there weren’t any studies done on the impact to the community – or to determine if the jail diversion would succeed in an area that is primarily residential. No jail diversion programs exist in King County – the closest one is in Pierce County and that facility is locked and is located on the premises of Western State Hospital and – which is a far cry from a neighborhood that is mostly residential.

  8. I think putting this facility where they propose will cause more harm to the neighborhood than good. Why don’t they put in over in Sand Point Way? Too close to their houses? Bunch of bastards, at least move it further South away from residential areas.

  9. Are you telling me that city officials were negligent, incompetant, and dishonest? I’ve never heard of such a thing, and in Seattle? We can’t believe this. Sally Baghead is a saint. We should erect a statue of her in the CD – right in the middle of Jimmi Hendrix Park.

  10. wasn’t there a poll conducted in Jax Place over this facility? whatever happened with that?