The Bellevue City Council permanently banned locations that would allow the consumption of illegal drugs, like heroin, on Monday. Stock image

Bellevue City Council permanently bans safe injection sites for illegal drugs

The Bellevue City Council unanimously voted to permanently ban safe injection sites for illegal drugs at a council meeting Monday.

The permanent ban will go into effect Oct. 26.

This past summer, the council had enacted an interim official zoning control, or emergency ordinance, for a citywide ban on Community Health Engagement Locations, also known as safe injection sites. But the interim measure was only for six months unless council took permanent action.

Ordinance No. 6376, the permanent measure, amends Bellevue’s land use code to impose a prohibition on the sites, locations or other uses or activities designed to provide a location for people to consume illicit drugs intravenously or by other means, throughout the city.

Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak said it’s “as permanent as legislation gets,” although a new council could effectively change the law through a public process in the future if they so desire, as they could with other legislation.

“It makes no sense to do this,” he said, in reference to allowing such a location in Bellevue.

Council members Jennifer Robertson, Kevin Wallace, Conrad Lee, and Mayor John Stokes all voiced agreement. Robertson stated she doesn’t believe it’s the right approach to help drug addicts and Stokes pointed out the city supports the seven other recommendations the Heroin and Opioid Addiction Task Force of King County made in September 2016 to develop a comprehensive strategy to focus on preventing addiction and increasing access to addiction treatment.

According to the county, more people in King County now enter detox for heroin than they do for alcohol. The safe injection sites are intended to reduce drug-related deaths and health risks by preventing overdoses, the transmission of viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and provide access to treatment and social services. The sites would also, in theory, improve public safety by reducing the frequency people use in public.

Four months after the task force’s recommendation, the King County Executive and former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said they would move forward on implementing them, which included the safe injection sites. In June of this year, the King County Council voted to limit where these sites could go – one in Seattle and one in King County. But the decision to place one in King County was dependent upon city council or elected leader approval.

The Bellevue City Council began talking about banning the sites in April and adopted the interim official zoning control, banning them citywide for six months, on Aug. 7. A public hearing on the measure was held on Sept. 25 in order to keep it in effect for the six months and so that the council could adopt the action as a permanent regulation.

The permanent ordinance states: Medically Supervised Consumption Centers (MSCC) designed to provide an hygienic environment where individuals are able to consume illicit drugs intravenously or by other means are prohibited in all Land Use Districts in the City. A MSCC includes all uses established or activities undertaken for the above-defined purpose, irrespective of how the use or activity is described. A MSCC may also be referred to as a community health, engagement location, supervised injection site or facility, safe injection site, fix room, or drug consumption facility.

An organization called Safe King County has sought to put Initiative 27, a vote to ban heroin injection sites in King County, on the February ballot since these recommendations were put forward.

On Monday, a King County Superior Court judge ruled I-27 would not appear on the ballot, however, the decision could be appealed.

That same day, the King County Council announced in a 5-4 vote, that they would send an alternative to the ballot if I-27 ever went to voters. That alternative would give King County voters a “choice on the future of any proposed Community Health Engagement Locations in King County.”

More in News

City seeks input on Bellevue Downtown Demonstration Bikeway project

The city of Bellevue is exploring ways to make downtown a safe,… Continue reading

Apply now for opening on Bellevue Planning Commission

Applications are due by Thursday, Nov. 30

Bellevue School Board approves 3 levies for February special election

If approved, the school district would collect $475 million over four years

Bellevue City Council adopts ordinances on parking, public camping and illegal waste dumping

On Monday night, the Bellevue City Council unanimously adopted three ordinances addressing… Continue reading

Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside starts permitting process for south Bellevue segment

Richards Creek substation, transmission lines expected to be complete by summer 2018

Share a treasured item during Cultural Conversations in Bellevue Dec. 5

The next Cultural Conversations in Bellevue will focus on “Using a treasured… Continue reading

Bellevue Essentials to graduate new class Nov. 29

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, the city of Bellevue will graduate a new… Continue reading

Festive flutists to spread holiday joy in Bellevue on Dec. 3

Hundreds of lucky local shoppers and other community members “out and about”… Continue reading

Higher Leaf in Bellevue collecting household goods for homeless families

Even amidst a booming economy, soaring housing costs have contributed to a… Continue reading

Activists fear that Atlantic salmon that escape from fish farms can spread disease to native fish such as these pink salmon.
Conservationists: Why you should care about fish pens

Open water fish pens have long been criticized by conservation activists as… Continue reading

Bellevue realtors kick-off holiday season with toy drive

Weichert, Realtors - Pillar Northwest, in Bellevue, is kicking off the holiday… Continue reading

Bellevue charities among others to receive toiletry donations from ‘Soap for Hope’

AAA’s Seattle and Eastside stores are teaming up with six local charities… Continue reading