News

Playground or sexual offender housing?

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

An attorney representing Peasley Canyon residents is asking a King County Superior Court judge to interpret state law as part of their argument that a transitional facility for civilly committed, Level 3 sex offenders doesn’t belong next to a homeschool and playground.

Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, an Auburn civil rights attorney representing Concerned Citizens of Auburn and Federal Way, has filed a motion asking the court to decide whether the homeschool and playground across the street from the proposed Peasley Canyon site should preclude it from consideration for possible locations of the sex offender facility.

In its response to the brief, the state Department of Social and Health Services countered that the community group is asking the court to call a private residence a school and a residential backyard a playground.

DSHS attorneys also argued the motion is premature because DSHS hasn’t chosen the site — and ultimately might not.

The two sides are scheduled to meet in court before Judge Gene Middaugh on May 30.

The flurry of legal activity surrounding the siting of the secure community transitional facility makes one thing clear: No matter where the state builds it, no one is going to be happy about it.

Earlier this month, citizens in North Bend filed suit against DSHS after the state added the Grouse Ridge Road site — forest land held in trust by the state Department of Natural Resources located near the fire training academy in North Bend — as a third site for consideration.

DSHS spokesman Steve Williams said officials have reviewed the lawsuit but will continue to consider North Bend as a potential site.

“There’s nothing (in the lawsuit) that would change our minds,” he said.

The second of two public meetings on the Grouse Ridge Road site will be held at 7:15 p.m. May 19 at the Mount Si High School auditorium in Snoqualmie.

Meanwhile, DSHS still is negotiating a purchase price for an undisclosed industrial site, though Williams said it’s been tough going.

DSHS wants a clause saying the state agency isn’t responsible for environmental issues on the site, particularly if later exploration reveals toxic chemicals buried on-site, Williams said. Attorneys for the industrial property owners want DSHS to take full responsibility for it.

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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