News

Odds increasing for sex offender sites

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Peasley Canyon’s chance of becoming the first community site for a halfway house for sex offenders jumped to 50 percent Wednesday after the state Department of Social and Health Services announced Carnation is ineligible because a school bus stop is located within the 600-foot buffer zone around the site.

The state will continue as before without the Carnation site, holding community meetings Jan. 22 at the Criminal Justice Training Commission building in Burien for the Orillia Road location and Jan. 23 at Green River Community College for Peasley Canyon.

DSHS gathered data on school bus stops near each of the three sites from the state superintendent of public instruction, but the stop that tripped up the Carnation site, located in the Riverside School District, wasn’t on the list, DSHS spokesman Steve Williams said.

The bus stop is used by one boy and is located at the end of his driveway, Williams said. It apparently wasn’t on the state list because the boy’s parents were driving him to school during a bus stop census conducted last September.

DSHS received documentation last week from the district confirming the bus stop was in existence before the state tapped the site as a potential location for a secure community transitional facility.

Williams said state records show the stop might have been established during the last half of the 2001-02 school year. Records show the site existed in January 2002, but it doesn’t appear to have been a bus stop in the years before then, he said.

Meanwhile, anxious residents in south King County are feeling a crunch as other options are failing to pan out.

DSHS Secretary Dennis Braddock said the former Cedar Hills Addiction and Rehabilitation Center, located near Maple Valley, isn’t an option because King County declined to sell the property. “We have to have a willing seller,” he said.

Williams said the county declined to offer the former treatment facility to the state and, without an offer, the state can’t buy it. “We would love to have it,” he said.

Calls to King County Executive Ron Sims’ office seeking comment were not returned.

State Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-Des Moines) said he’s glad Carnation was dropped from the list of possible sites, but added DSHS “should follow up by dropping Orillia Road and Peasley Canyon, as well.”

“The entire siting process is flawed,” he said. “The withdrawal of the Carnation site highlights failures in the process itself.”

Wade Staiger, chairman of a community group called Concerned Citizens for Auburn, said south King County residents will have to band together to fight the proposed location of the facility in Peasley Canyon.

“Carnation has been saved from a horrible fate,” he said. “This is why residents (here) must unite to look for a solution now.”

The state’s announcement came the day after about 700 people gathered at a community meeting in the Kilo Junior High School gym in Federal Way to voice opposition to the Peasley Canyon site.

Concerned Citizens for Auburn has collected thousands of dollars in donations to help pay for attorneys and other costs the group is incurring to fight the halfway house, but is hoping to raise at least $50,000 to get through March, Staiger said.

Staiger said Concerned Citizens for Auburn has “a couple avenues we’re planning on” to fight the facility, but the main focus will be on issues of land-use along with some constitutional issues with the way the statute governing the location of the facility is written.

Concerned Citizens for Auburn has hired Auburn attorney Yvonne Ward to help fight DSHS and the the statute and land-use attorney Vicky Gendler, who will help work out the land-use legalities.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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