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South Seattle neighbors question sobering center relocation

A Georgetown resident calls the King County Sobering Support Center a great idea, but questions putting it in a neighborhood that is struggling with several issues.

SEATTLE — The King County Sobering Support Center is always open and serves up to 60 adults at a time. After 20 years in the same building, the property has been sold, and the center needs to move to a new location.

However, the new location in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood is raising questions. 

Edward Ball has lived in the neighborhood for the last two years.

"This is kind of a commercial area, but we still have about 1,400 residents," Ball said. "I feel like Georgetown has been the place to push a lot of problems without any answers."

Ball said he has called 911 over 20 times in the last year reporting aggressive behavior, fights, and break-ins. He's also told the city about parked RVs and campers. Ball said he regularly sees at least eight RVs or campers on the streets near his house.

The neighborhood is expecting a new addition as King County prepares to relocate its sobering center to a building in the 1200 block of South Bailey Street. The center would serve as a safe place for people to sleep off the effects of intoxication and connect with treatment.

"It is a great idea. It's a great option, but what was the thought process in putting it right next to a bunch of bars and restaurants into an area that is already skyrocketing with crime and a homelessness problem," Ball asked.

That concern is acknowledged on King County's website. 

The county responded by noting, "Georgetown has issues with homelessness and intoxication. The community voiced frustration with a lack of law enforcement to intervene. The ESP van and street outreach teams can help with both these issues. The availability of physical and behavioral health care on site could also be a community asset. The current facility has operated near similar establishments without issues."

But Ball is not convinced yet.

"We are kind of at the breaking point because it has just become an open invite like nothing is being done here in Georgetown. Come on down and set up shop," he said.

King County has already hosted one community meeting on the topic and plans to host more. The county has also answered questions about the sobering center relocation on its website. Click here to learn more.

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