As I have written before, public safety is the paramount responsibility of local government. While Snohomish County government has broad jurisdiction over many topic areas and issues, keeping our communities safe is, as it should be, our number one priority. I have had the opportunity in the past month to join our law enforcement professionals in the field on a couple of occasions to get a better understanding of the work they are doing and the challenges they face. In this month’s column, I will highlight some of these challenges and work that must be done to keep our communities safe.
One issue I hear about often from constituents is nuisance properties in their neighborhoods. These properties are often host to many illegal and unhealthy activities that affect neighboring residents. This might include squatters who have taken over abandoned properties, drug activity, prostitution, property crimes, junkyard conditions, and rodent infestations. Our Nuisance Properties Team, which includes staff from the Sheriff’s Office, Code Enforcement, and the Health District, does a phenomenal job working with limited resources to bring resolutions to these neighborhood blights whenever possible.
One of my recent ride-alongs was with the Nuisance Properties Team and we visited a home on Larson Road just off of Pioneer Highway. This property has been a long-time nuisance with squatters, drug activity, abandoned vehicles, and multiple health code violations. As a bank-owned property, traditional efforts of notice of violation and fines have not resulted in changes to these conditions. Currently, the Snohomish Health District is going to court to seek an injunction against this property. If granted, an injunction would allow for the team to get the property cleaned up and arrest trespassers in the future.
Bank-owned properties are one of the biggest challenges our Nuisance Properties Team faces. Because of federal finance laws, these big banks are able to transfer properties, forcing the Nuisance Team to start the lengthy process over on these locations. It would take changes to federal law to make it easier for our local efforts to rid neighborhoods of these issues. I have raised this issue with our federal congressional delegation and will continue working with our local team on this moving forward.
Another opportunity I had to get boots on the ground was with a team of our Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office personnel on a graveyard shift ride-along in North Snohomish County from 8:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.
I was so impressed by the integrity and professionalism displayed by our officers, from the compassion they showed toward a victim of domestic violence on our first call of the evening to their commitment to keeping our community safe when we responded to a call of a suspect fleeing a stolen vehicle with a firearm in the early hours of the morning.
Law enforcement perform what is very often a thankless job, and one that is growing increasingly difficult. My experiences from these recent ride-alongs made me grateful for their hard work and proud to be a resident of Snohomish County.
Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at Nate.Nehring@snoco.org or by phone at 425-512-4810.