On the evening of January 22nd, the City Council held a public hearing centered on the extension of the halfway house moratorium. This moratorium is in place to delay the opening of new halfway houses for sex offenders in residential neighborhoods while new ordinances are created.
We’ve discussed this issue many times before on Puyallup Now. For a bit more information please click here for a historical summary of the issue I wrote for my web site.
Before the hearing, Steve Kirkelie, Senior Assistant City Attorney, gave a presentation which closely mirrored the one he gave to the Planning Commission in early December. It was a good recap and status update, clearly outlining the challenges and possible solutions before us.
There were hundreds in attendance, though only a few spoke. Mr. Kirkelie made it clear all previous testimony would be brought forward and added to this new hearing. People were welcome to speak if they had anything to add, but this was not required.
One new Puyallup resident took to the podium to tell her story. A childhood victim of abuse, she and her family had just purchased a home at the end of the block where the proposed halfway house is intended to operate. While deployed in Hawaii, they had worked with a real estate agent to purchase their new home and were not informed of this ongoing battle. Imagine their horror as the news shattered their newly acquired sanctuary.
After the conclusion of the public comments the council discussed the options presented by Mr. Kirkelie. The consensus among the council was to implement as many options as possible. It is expected that newly proposed ordinances and business regulations will be revealed and voted on at the February 5th meeting City Council meeting.
Normally new rules like these would have two votes (“readings”). The first and second readings are procedurally presented two weeks apart. This gives time for public review as well as to solidified amendments suggested at first reading. I’m in favor of a swift resolution, but some of these new rules could have unintended consequences (for example, it could negatively impact those who have roommates). For that reason alone I hope the votes for adoption are taken one at a time.
The newly proposed ordinances and amendments should be available online at the end of the week preceding the first reading (on or around January 31st). They will be posted to the city web site and probably also on the Shaw ComeTogether Facebook page which was organized as the unifying voice of the community against this facility.
If you have ideas and suggestions please reach out to your City Council representatives. Also, please come to City Hall and speak at the meeting on February 5th. The meeting, located on the 5th floor, will start at 6:30PM. For more information on this issue and what you can do, please check out the facebook page above.