News

Fight deepens over possible housing for sex offenders

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

The flurry of activity surrounding the proposed building in Peasley Canyon of a transitional housing facility for sex offenders has grown more intense in the week since the state hosted a public meeting at Green River Community College Jan. 23.

Peasley Canyon-area residents are preparing to testify at a state Senate hearing in Olympia next Wednesday in favor of Senate Bill 5116, sponsored by Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way). The legislation would offer the same level of protection to homeschools that’s afforded to private and public schools when the state looks for places to locate the sexual offender facilities.

Meanwhile, state officials are looking for industrial sites in King County that might better suit a halfway house than residential areas like Peasley Canyon, which residents strongly protested as unsuitable during the meeting at Green River and at previous public gatherings.

The House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee heard public testimony yesterday morning on several pieces of legislation governing siting of the halfway houses, including:

• Prohibiting the facilities in residential areas (House Bill 1087, sponsored by Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines);

• Prohibiting them near public and private youth camps (HB 1099, sponsored by Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace);

• Locating them away from campgrounds, youth camps and private residences (HB 1107, sponsored by Rep. Toby Nixon, R-Kirkland).

As legislation makes its way through the process in Olympia, the state Department of Social and Health Services is looking into whether a playground and homeschool across the street from the proposed Peasley Canyon site makes the property ineligible for a sex offender facility according to the state’s criteria.

DSHS spokesman Steve Williams said the agency is working with a real estate broker that specializes in industrial properties but has no promising leads yet for alternatives to Peasley.

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

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