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City of SeaTac hits pause on future homeless shelters

The City of SeaTac voted to temporarily restrict additional homeless shelters. It's the latest city to push back on King County over shelters set up in hotels.

SEATAC, Wash. — SeaTac is the latest city to push back on King County over homeless shelters set up in hotels.

The SeaTac City Council voted last month to temporarily restrict the county from opening any additional shelters within city limits.

The council and residents discussed the move on Tuesday evening.

SeaTac council members said they’re concerned about increasing crime, drug use, littering and police calls, which they said are the result of a homeless shelter King County established at a Quality Inn near the airport.

The property was meant to free up space in other, more crowded shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“King County, frankly, did not coordinate with the city prior to establishing that de-intensification shelter, except at the very last moment,” said Evan Maxim, SeaTac community and economic development director, during a city council meeting on Tuesday evening.

Residents also had an opportunity to share their thoughts.

“I’ve witnessed, taken video, of drug dealing on the corner there of 192nd and International Blvd., the prostitution that’s taken place there, the people, they just hang out, loitering,” said Michael Kovacs, a SeaTac resident.

SeaTac council members said they’re concerned their city, with its large number of hotels, could become home to more shelters as the county looks for additional properties, with revenues from a new sales tax meant to fund housing for homeless people.

SeaTac is not alone. Renton has also raised concerns over a homeless shelter the county set up in a hotel. The city is considering legislation to shut it down and restrict future shelters.

SeaTac council members said they hope the new shelter moratorium will give them time to talk with the county, learn more about its plans, and see if the city can support those plans. But, until now, the county has not been responsive to the city’s concerns.

RELATED: Renton considers vacating Red Lion Hotel sheltering 200 homeless people