Kitsap County Examiner reaches verdict on sex offender housing

On July 26, the Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD) released the findings of the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner regarding zoning for Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA) housing for Sexually Violent Predators on Viking Way in Poulsbo.

The DCD along with the group Washington State for Public Safety issued a notice of violation to Westsound Support Services the group operating the home for Sexually Violent Predators. The notice stated that the group had not reported the facility to the county.

After receiving the notice, Westsound Support Services appealed the violation and the proceedings were taken to the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner in May. Hearings lasted until July 13, when, ultimately, the violation was upheld.

The hearing held a narrow focus on land use violations and came up with substantive findings. Mainly that the site of the home is within the Rural Residential Zone of the county, violating newly adopted Kitsap County land use codes and the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The zone implements the Comprehensive Plan, which under the Growth Management Act, provides for the urban areas to serve as the centers for ‘ housing opportunities,’ and provides for restricting urban services within rural areas and ensuring the ‘natural landscape predominates over the built environment’ in rural areas,” according to the published findings.

In Feb. 2019, Kitsap County and multiple municipalities within the county, adopted zoning which specifically provides for the use of “Group Residential Facility – Secured High Risk,” conditionally allowing the use in five zoning designations. While the facility is allowed conditionally within the urban area, the County Code does not allow for an LRA Facility in the Residential Rural zoning areas.

Findings from the hearing also revealed a series of informal communications between the Department of Community Development and Westsound Support Services regarding the facility. The DCD initially began to review the use of the facility in comparison to other adult home facilities. The conversations took place prior to the revelation that the adults occupying the home would be sexually violent predators. While these informal conversations were happening at the same time, the group was already bringing SVP’s into the home without the DCD’s knowledge.

The opposition group Washington State for Public Safety has played an ardent role in this case and now that the verdict has been rendered by the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner, the group is calling upon the county to enforce the violation and close the facility immediately.

“Kitsap County has the full legal authority to enforce the upheld violation and close the facility even though Westsound Support Services is likely to appeal the decision via the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) process,” said the group in a Facebook post last week.

“Kitsap County allowed the facility to continue to operate in violation of Kitsap County Code during the first appeal process. The county needs to act now, and enforce the violation. The safety and well-being of our neighborhoods should be the number one concern of our local government—enforcing the violation will ensure that safety and well-being,” the post reads

The group urges the public to contact Kitsap County Commissioners and the DCD.

“Tell them to enforce their own land-use codes. Tell them to close down the SVP facility on Viking Way now. Westsound Support Services has been allowed far too long to continue to run and profit from an illegally-sited facility.”