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Georgetown Alliance sobering center lawsuit not simply a case of ‘NIMBY’


Without talking to the community in any meaningful way, King County decided to relocate a sobering center to the neighborhood of Georgetown. The location makes little sense to the people who actually live there, so now, the Georgetown Neighborhood Alliance is suing the city of Seattle for approving a construction permit that would allow the construction to commence.

Attorney David Bricklin of Bricklin & Newman represents the Alliance and joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss the lawsuit and its ramifications.

“The city simply ignored the impacts on the neighborhood. They viewed this as just an ordinary construction permit,” he said. “And we have a state law that requires the city to consider that sort of thing, and so we filed the lawsuit to force the city to do that.”

In going ahead with the project, Bricklin says that the law requires that the city do an analysis of the impact on the community (under the State Environmental Policy Act), which the city did not do, and should have done outreach to the neighborhood and involved them in the decision-making process as well.

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The core disagreement is that the city doesn’t believe they need to go through this process for such a project.

“We do have a difference of opinion on that. They believe they are basing their decision on some arcane rules that allow them to avoid the environmental review process for certain kinds of rather innocuous projects,” he said. “This is not an innocuous project. We don’t believe those exemptions apply.”

Not simply a case of NIMBY

Bricklin says this isn’t simply an issue of “Not In My Backyard.” The Alliance doesn’t see this as a good spot both for the city and for those in the neighboring community, and hopes to cause the city to move their the site with the lawsuit.

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“First of all, we don’t think this is a good place for this sobering center from their own perspective. The prior location was closer to where there are a variety of social service facilities nearby in the Belltown area,” he said. “It’s where a lot of these folks are inhabiting and to move the facility to Georgetown probably doesn’t serve the community that they’re trying to serve very well.”

Additionally, while he believes that Georgetown has been open to similar types of support facilities, this one is not a fit and isn’t even supported by those in Georgetown’s tiny homes project.

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“Georgetown has been fairly open to a lot of community support facilities,” Bricklin said. “My understanding is the folks who live in that tiny housing thing (in Georgetown) are folks who, some of whom, have graduated out of these sobering centers and don’t want the sobering center nearby, because they’re afraid the folks in the sobering center — current drug and alcohol users — are going to drift over to the tiny houses, where they’re trying to start anew.”

“So this is not a good fit for Georgetown and we don’t think it’s a good fit even for the folks who are using the sobering facility.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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