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Arlington City Council approves SODA ordinance

 

August 16, 2017 | View PDF

Image courtesy of the city of Arlington

This map shows the area included in the new Stay Out of Designated Area ordinance around Smokey Point.

Arlington's City Council has approved a new ordinance they hope will keep repeat drug offenders away from the Smokey Point area.

The council approved the new "Stay Out of Designated Area" or SODA ordinance during their Aug. 7 meeting.

The new ordinance would allow a judge to impose a court order on an individual, restricting them from entering the designated area.

The designated area in this case is a large portion of Smokey Point, east of I-5, west of 43rd Avenue, north of 164th Street and south of 175th Street.

The order would only be allowed if the judge is processing a drug-related criminal case that happened in the area.

An officer or the prosecutor could then ask the judge to impose an order prohibiting them from entering that area for up to 24 months.

Violation of the court order can result in arrest.

City officials hope that this will help remove repeat drug offenders from the area.

"This will help police address a number of issues," said Kristin Banfield, communications manager for the city of Arlington.

"It's not a magic bullet, of course, but it is an additional tool that they can use," she said.

Having a Smokey Point with less drug traffic is also meant to help those living with addiction.

"We see people who are dealing with addiction and they will relapse because they are falling back in with the same individuals they were with before," said Banfield. "We're hoping that being able to break some of those connection will help."

The SODA ordinance is something the city has been working on, said Banfield.

"Our council and police department are actively looking at every potential tool that can be used to address the illegal drug activity in the city and the opioid epidemic," she said.

Part of looking for ways to address drug activity involves talking with local communities.

"In that search we have talked to other local jurisdictions about what they have done, and what is working for them," said Banfield.

She said that Arlington officials have talked to Marysville and other local cities that have similar SODA ordinances.

Marysville created a SODA ordinance in their downtown in 2012. Banfield said the Arlington measure is "nearly identical" to that one.

The Smokey Point area was the focus of the ordinance because it sees the most drug crime, said Banfield.

"We spend a lot of time looking at all of our data from 911 calls, and it allows us to see a map of where our most concentrated drug activity is," she said.

Being a traffic hub near I-5 is likely one of the major factors that makes the area see drug activity, she said.

"There is a smaller area near downtown that we are still monitoring, but at this point in time it doesn't seem like it needs a SODA overlay," said Banfield.

Banfield said that there's been a misconception that "anybody charged with a crime can't go into the area," but that is false.

"A judge actually has to put an order in place for the ordinance to apply," she said.

She noted that a police officer or a city official can't place the order themselves, it has to be issued from a judge.

 

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