Also, crackdown on drug-related loitering, East Link update
City Councilmembers expressed support for a new enforcement tool requested by the Police Department to address ongoing crimes that take place at a business or residence.
The proposed Chronic Nuisance ordinance would allow the police chief to declare a property a nuisance when specific activities are taking place and advise the person in charge of the property on how to remedy the situation. If the required action is not taken, the person could be subject to escalating fines. Nuisance activities would include, among others, serious offenses such as assaults, drug-related activity, prostitution, weapons violations and disorderly conduct.
While the council expressed some concern about possible impacts of the ordinance on residential landlords, they asked the Police Department to make changes to the ordinance and bring it back for future consideration and a likely vote.
Creation of the Chronic Nuisance ordinance stems from problems that started in early 2011 at the Munchbar in downtown Bellevue, where police responded to 377 calls in less than two years. The bar closed in late 2012 after a fatal shooting. Police researched what other cities did to control nuisance properties and modeled the proposed ordinance after a successful Seattle law.
More information, including a draft copy of the proposed ordinance, is available in the council meeting materials.
Drug-related loitering ordinance
Police officials also proposed a separate public safety-related ordinance designed to help officers crack down on street sales of illegal drugs.
Currently, officers have limited ability to counteract the problem. The proposed ordinance would make "drug-traffic loitering" a gross misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. It would give officers the ability to arrest someone if the person is in a public place and tries to get another person to engage in illegal conduct, which includes suspicious behavior associated with drug sales on the street.
Like the Chronic Nuisance ordinance, the drug loitering ordinance is based on a Seattle law, approved in 1992, which the state Supreme Court has favorably referred to in upholding the constitutionality of a similar ordinance.
Councilmembers expressed support for the proposed ordinance and it could be approved without further discussion at a future council meeting. More information is available in the council meeting materials.
East Link project update
Also on the docket Monday was a monthly update on the East Link light rail project. The wide-ranging presentation included information about the final design of the project (now at the 60 percent stage for most of the Bellevue segment) and right of way acquisitions.
Also considered was a master plan for the redesign of Surrey Downs Park, located adjacent to the future light rail line along 112th Avenue Southeast, and a briefing by Sound Transit and King County Metro officials about a study underway on how light rail and buses will be integrated once East Link service begins.
Councilmembers were updated about public outreach work by the Light Rail Permitting Citizens Advisory Committee, created by the council to represent neighborhood and citywide interests in the permit review process, and to be a venue for taking public comments.
The CAC held a joint open house with Sound Transit and two more are scheduled. One is today (on the East Main segment) 5 to 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, 11211 Main St. The other is on March 25 (on the downtown segment), 5 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. meeting materials
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