Poulsbo sex offender opposition group testifies in Olympia

Poulsbo sex offender opposition group testifies in Olympia

Group seeking to close sex offender housing in Poulsbo, testifies on behalf of proposed legislation

Organizers for Washington State for Public Safety — a group recently formed in opposition to the placement and operation of shared housing for Level 3 sex offenders on Viking Way in Poulsbo — recently testified before the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee in Olympia, in favor of two bills sponsored by Senator Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma.

Senate Bills 5038 and 5040 seek to limit the placement of institutionalized individuals in adult family homes and ensure the equitable geographic distribution of such individuals as well. Organizers with WSPS have stated that the group intends to pursue legal action in hopes of shuttering the Viking Way Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA) group home. The residence is being operated by WestSound Support Services, under contract through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and currently houses four of the high-risk sex offenders.

Shane Seaman, an attorney with Cross Sound Law Group, is providing legal counsel for WSPS as they work to understand the manner by which the Viking Way LRA came to be. For all intents and purposes, Seaman says, the Viking Way house is effectively a Secure Community Transition Facility, even if it is not officially classified as such by DSHS.

“You have the statutory scheme that clearly defines a Secure Community Transition Facility and it has certain requirements and guidelines,” Seaman said. By not defining the Viking Way residence as a Secure Community Transition Facility, DSHS was able to avoid having to conduct a more thorough notification process.

During a December community meeting to address the presence of the Viking Way LRA, one of the chief complaints from those in attendance was a lack of prior notification during the siting process — in which neither county commissioners nor officials from the Kitsap County Department of Community Development were made aware. At a Jan. 8 community meeting, Detective Eric Adams with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office stated that a glitch in a third party notification system resulted in a large number of nearby residents never receiving adequate notice ahead of the first offender moving into the residence. As for the lack of notification on DSHS’ behalf, Seaman suggests this was intentional.

“It appears they are really trying to circumvent and just ignore the idea that’s in the statutory scheme of these Secure Community Transition Facilities.” Seaman said. “It’s not an adult family home, and our current code allows Adult Family Homes in residential neighborhoods with a conditional use permit.”

“[The residence] has all the same requirements of security, staffing and everything else, and meets the definition of a Secure Community Transition Facility,” Seaman said. “It’s more like a private jail.”

Washington State for Public Safety recently received 501(c)(4) status, something that organizer Pamela Benson says will allow the group to pursue continued lobbying efforts in Olympia. Additionally, WSPS has also started a GoFundMe page in order to assist with the anticipated legal costs of a court battle.

WSPS will be holding a public, community meeting Saturday morning at 9:30 in the Poulsbo Fire Department’s Station 77.

Nick Twietmeyer is the interim editor for the North Kitsap Herald. Nick can be reached at editor@northkitsapherald.com.

More in News

.
Bremerton’s St. Michael Medical Center temporarily closing ER

Emergency services halted at 7 p.m. Friday due to staff shortage

Back to school vaccination event.
Back to School Poulsbo vaccine event July 31

North Point Church and Peninsula Community Health Services have partnered to host… Continue reading

.
2021 Fathoms royalty get their crowns

Pandemic uncertainties couldn’t dissuade Royalty Court

.
Long-awaited modernization project at Manchester Fuel Depot finally started

Work on nearly $200 million project to take nine years to complete

.
‘The entire west is burning’

With a worst-ever wildfire season feared this year, here’s what residents should know to keep safe

.
West Sound Film Festival is back for its fifth year

Meet three filmmakers being showcased at the festival this August

.
50 new COVID cases confirmed in Kitsap since Monday

County back above ‘high level’ of coronavirus activity

The brick flooring and wood paneling is original to the Olympic Hotel now called Hotel Scandi. Ken Park/North Kitsap Herald photos
Hotel to open in downtown Poulsbo

While an official opening date is still in the works, soon visitors… Continue reading

The Suquamish Tribe laid to rest former Suquamish Tribal Chairman Richard Belmont Jr. on what would have been his 82nd birthday on July 24.
Former Suquamish Tribal Chairman laid to rest

Former chairman of the Suquamish Tribe Richard Belmont Jr., who played a… Continue reading

Most Read