MARYSVILLE, Wash. –- The mayor of Marysville's message is clear: We’re fed up with drugs and drug-related crimes.
Now the city has a new ordinance that gets tough on drugs. It’s called Stay Out of Drug Area, or SODA. The city of Seattle has several of these zones already. Everett has nine areas as well. The areas mean people convicted of drug crimes within SODA may be prohibited from returning there for two years.
Since 2015, the Smokey Point Area of Marysville has seen nearly 300 drug-related incidents. More than 600 thefts and nearly 400 nuisance and trespass violations. All things that mayor of Marysville says are associated with drug-related behavior.
“It’s just amazing to me, like wow, this is really real. This is sad,” said Marysville resident Sharon Perrault.
Perrault calls Marysville home and wished the drug problem wasn’t in her backyard.
“I don’t know how they afford cigarettes, let alone drugs. That adds to a lot of crime because there’s more robbing and things like that because they have to supply their habit,” said Perrault.
Those drug-related crimes once battered downtown Marysville.
“Our downtown it represented one-twentieth of our entire city but represented one-fifth of our entire crimes,” said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.
That’s until the City Council passed a r SODA ordinance there. If someone’s caught with a drug-related offense in the SODA and a judge issues the order against them, they would be banned from the designated area for two years.
“When you identify somebody, who’s been committing these crimes and you say, you know what? We’re not going to put up with it anymore. If you’re even seen in this area, we’re going to arrest you,” said Nehring.
Nehring says it worked downtown to reduce crime, so just this week the city slapped the label on Smokey Point. It’s in the northern part of the city bordering Arlington where commercial burglaries and thefts are up.
“I don’t think we’re violating anybody’s rights. So if you don’t commit a drug crime, this is never going to be an issue for you. If you commit a drug crime, we’re going to make life tough on you,” said Nehring.
But Perrault wants a different kind of approach.
“How are they going to learn? How are they going to stop? I think transitional housing is really the answer to get them off the streets and get them in with a group that’s clean and sober,” said Perrault.
Nehring says soon the city will announce efforts to end the cycle of addiction with future treatment options.
SODA can only be implemented in areas of high drug related crime. So it can’t be the entire city. Ultimately, it’s up to the municipal judges to issue the order on each individual charged inside a drug area.