News

More meetings on sex offender housing

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

The state Department of Social and Health Services has scheduled the first round of public meetings in communities selected as potential locations for a new secure housing facility for sex offenders.

The facility will house former inmates who have received sex offender treatment at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island and are ready to begin making the transition back into society.

The Peasley Canyon public meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 23 in the Cascade Room at the Lindbloom Student Center at Green River Community College, 12401 SE. 320th St. in Auburn.

The meeting for the Orillia Road site in Seatac will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 22 in the auditorium of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission building, 19010 First Ave. S. in Burien.

DSHS will host open houses at 6:30 p.m. before the meetings to allow Special Commitment Center officials to speak informally with members of the public.

A second round of public meetings will be held in February. Dates, times and locations will be announced later.

DSHS officials will attend the Peasley Canyon, Seatac and Carnation meetings to answer questions and to provide information about the process used to identify the sites, about Special Commitment Center programs and about operation and security at the facility.

Officials said they will explain how the secure community transition facilities fit into the constitutional requirements of the mental health treatment program for civilly committed sex offenders.

All public input gathered at the community meetings will be written into the official record by DSHS and considered prior to the final decision, officials said.

Meanwhile, Concerned Citizens for Auburn, a community group fighting the location of the facility in Peasley Canyon, is hoping to raise $50,000 to pay for the cost of a lawyer through March.

The group has retained Auburn attorney Yvonne Ward for $1,200 a month to help them with legal strategies against DSHS, and itŽ’s hoping to hire a land-use attorney to help provide DSHS with arguments against the Peasley Canyon site during the hearings.

So far, Concerned Citizens for Auburn has raised a little more than $5,400.

The group is looking for volunteers who can help with fund-raising efforts. Donations can be made to Concerned Citizens for Auburn, P.O. Box 36, Auburn, WA 98071.

Peasley Canyon residents noted several concerns about the facility locating in their neighborhood at a public meeting hosted by King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer Dec. 14.

Their concerns included the number of families in the area with young children, the number of parks, churches and daycares, the density of the woods surrounding the location, police response time in the area and the relative frequency of power outages.

Residents living near the Orillia Road site listed similar concerns in opposition to the facility, including proximity to schools, daycares, school bus stops and parks, at a public forum hosted by King County Councilwoman Julia Patterson on Dec. 19.

The primary opposition to the Orillia Road site is a new 750-unit, single-family housing development less than a mile south of the Orillia Road site, said PattersonŽ’s legislative aide Jon Scholes.

On Dec. 11, County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, von Reichbauer and Patterson asked County Executive Ron Sims to review whether there is land in the county or whether the former Ceder Hills Addiction and Treatment Center near Maple Valley would be suitable for a secure community transition facility.

Scholes said they havenŽ’t heard back from Sims yet.

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