Clearview Town Hall discusses heroin, traffic
CLEARVIEW — Although attendance of the annual Clearview Town Hall meeting to discuss local issues with county and state panelists was sparse compared to previous years, the concerns shared by
locals were not.
The Thursday, Aug. 17 meeting featured a number of area legis-
lators and ran over its planned timeframe. People walked away with better perspective of the direction Clearview may be going.
Traffic was the most discussed issue. Heroin problems incited the most emotion from the crowd. Other concerns pertained to
growth and infrastructure, and discussion also briefly touched on marijuana revenue.
The panelists were state Sen. Guy Palumbo (D - Maltby), state Reps. Shelley Kloba (D - Kirkland), Derek Stanford (D - Bothell), County Councilmen Terry Ryan and Sam Low, and Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary.
The majority of the attendees in the Clearview Foursquare Church were Clearview residents, while there were a few from Maltby.
Sheriff speaks to heroin
One Clearview resident asked how citizens could recognize the
signs of heroin or opioid abuse and what can they do about the heroin epidemic in the community. Trenary was straightforward with his
answer: To make an immediate impact, clean out the medicine cabinet of pain medications and
bring them to a local drug take-back box.
“Snohomish County is a leader in drug take-back” programs, Trenary said. “But our kids say in the Healthy Youth Survey that they’re getting hooked on prescription opiates and transitioning to heroin because they’re getting into the medicine cabinets.”
Trenary said that’s “step one” that people should take to help combat the opioid epidemic.
“I’m going to be candid,” the sheriff said, “we’ve got to stop saying law enforcement will solve this
problem! We’re not, ladies and gentlemen, law enforcement is not going to solve this problem and if we expect that to be the case, our grandchildren will
still be suffering from this epidemic.”
People sat up straighter in their chairs as Trenary laid out his thoughts on opioids, housing at the Snohomish County Jail for opioid addicts in need of detox services, which costs taxpayers millions per year, and how the “typical” opioid addict deputies contact are people who had good jobs who got into opioids via prescriptions, then on to heroin, then lost everything and are currently living on
Trenary quipped that people have criticized him, leveling accusations that
he and his deputies are not arresting enough people. He said this is not the solution.
“I am not part of the problem — I want nothing to do with safe injection sites,” Trenary said, and a thunderous applause broke the tension
in the sanctuary at his words. “I want nothing to do with legalizing anymore drugs. What I want to do is we need to declare a state of emer-gency. Not for shock and awe, but we need to treat it like an Oso landslide where it’s all hands on deck, and it is our top priority and we don’t stop until we fix it.”
Low agreed that people needed to empty their medicine cabinets for the
drug take-back program, adding that the Snohomish Health District takes back up to 7,000 pounds of prescription drugs per year.
At the jail, there simply aren’t enough beds for the
number of inmates who
need detox services. About 50 percent of the jail bookings are of inmates on some form of illicit drugs daily.
“Any one time, there’s 150 to 180 people overdosing from heroin and we have 50 beds and that’s using every nook and cranny in our medical unit,” Trenary said. “In Snohomish County, (apart from the jail) we have 16 beds.”
Palumbo was baffled.
“That’s ludicrous that in Snohomish County, you only have 16 beds in the county for the people who actually want to get into treatment,” the state senator said. “If somebody wants to get help, you have to give them the care that they need and Ty (Trenary) doesn’t have that. He’s law enforcement.”
Palumbo called it a “fundamental problem” and disconnect between the county and the state legislation.
The costs are astounding.
“I’m spending ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money to put them in jail,” Trenary declared. “So, an example – we arrest a homeless person for sleeping in a doorway, booked for illegal camping, which is the lowest crime on the spectrum of crimes. As a taxpayer, that costs you roughly
$500 for the first day.”
The crowd shuddered.
Trenary described how the outreach with the social worker program, helping addicts get into treatment and even offering transportation assistance, is cheaper on the taxpayer than jailtime in a detox medical unit. In fact, there were four specific individual opioid addicts who
were medically assisted, and booked into jail — that cost taxpayers $1.5 million combined, according to Trenary.
There’s a bright side with outreach and support.
“We’re finding that in 2016, we did that with 100 people and now all 100 people are now actively employed and no longer addicts,” Trenary said, inciting applause.
The majority of the questions at the Town Hall focused on traffic concerns for state routes 9 and 522, which both are flooded with drivers daily that cause congestion.
Clearview president Jeff Thomas said the congestion on Highway 9 is a “wait and see” topic for when the state or county can get more funding to alleviate the traffic problems, such as tackling the infrastructure to play catch-up and lobbying for more support in Olympia.
Mass transit, like a large bus route, was also a heated topic for the residents since most of the residents live outside Sound Transit’s taxing
“If you’re talking Light Rail, yeah, that’s not happening here,” Councilman Ryan said. “I’m on the board for Community Transit. I called up our CEO and asked him, ‘what would it take to get this enacted here?’ And the answer is: you would have to vote on it yourselves. It’s a sales tax increase. If you’re going down into Canyon Park and buying groceries
down there, you’re already paying for it, you’re paying for their transit. I believe, the money would be raised for shopping at the local Albertson’s for example, you’d get way more back than what you would pay. So that’s something for you to think about.
The idea that Sound Transit was to go up and down I-5. So what we have is the
transit buses moving people from the opposite corridors into I-5.”
The representatives from Olympia said they were working on it and that funding sources were the main obstacle for improving traffic conditions.
While marijuana was not a heated topic for discussion at the meeting, it still came up when talking about how to fund future traffic road relief.
The state made $743 million in marijuana sales revenue. That money is allocated in the state budget. Stanford talked about lobbying for using the revenue for road repairs and infrastructure improvements to combat traffic.
The Kushery owner Josh Shade, suggested at the meeting that marijuana revenue could go toward combating the opioid epidemic.
Kloba said the revenue actually goes toward enforcing the code for the state’s legal marijuana industry.
Thomas said Snohomish County is now the most sought-after real estate market in the state, and prices, as well as traffic, will continue to go up.
Clearview, established as an unincorporated rural community, was founded in 1931 and has over 20,000 local residents.
The Clearview Community Association meets every other month. The next meeting is Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in Clearview Foursquare
Church, 17210 state Route 9.
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