Everett businessman says loiterers are scaring away customers, calls for no-sit, no-lie ordinance
EVERETT — An Everett business owner says he is losing money because loiterers are harassing his customers.
The problem is so bad, he says, that he is now lobbying the Everett City Council to consider a no-sit, no-lie ordinance.
“We don’t have what is the traditional homeless problem,” business owner Gary Watts said.
Watts cannot look away even if he wanted to. Everyday from his office window at Z-Sport, he sees loitering and drug use.
“They are primarily drug addicts,” Watts said.
They even come inside his business to panhandle his workers and customers, he said.
“I am dealing with people who walk in my counter, my front counter, and say, 'Guys, can you help? Can you help me out with a few bucks,'” Watts said.
Watts is fed up and he made that clear to City Councilor Jeff Moore, who stopped by the intersection of 37th and Smith Aveue to check out the problem on Wednesday.
“It’s a health problem, it’s a safety problem, it’s a prostitution problem,” Watts said.
Moore hasn’t made up his mind but he's considering a no-sit, no-lie policy.
“I know that if that's not the solution, we need to keep moving to the right solution,” Moore said.
City Councilor Brenda Stonecipher says a blanket approach such as a no-sit, no-lie policy is a bad idea.
“You can’t just say it’s illegal to sit here anymore. We have to provide them new places for them to be and provide the outreach and support ,” Stonecipher said.
The closest support for the crowd on Smith Avenue is right next door at Everett Gospel Mission.
The shelter says these people are not sitting on the street because they have nowhere to go. The mission’s director told Q13 FOX News that she has invited many to use her shelter but they refuse. To her, this is not a homeless issue.
That's why Watts is so desperate for the city to step in. Until then, this block will be a magnet for 911 calls and trash pickups, he said.
“The feces and the food mess that is left there has attracted thousands of rats,” Watts said.
The Everett City Council was holding a 6:30 p.m. meeting. The issue is not on the agenda but Watts is planning to speak anyway. He said he wants all the City Council members to hear his side of the story.
So far this year, police have been called to the area more than 40 times. The 911 calls were mostly for trespassing, assault, and substance abuse.