Renton City Council votes against safe drug-injection site, but some residents favor idea

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RENTON, Wash. — The Renton City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night banning safe drug-consumption sites in the city.

It’s the fourth city to take such an action after King County announced earlier that it will set up two safe consumption, or injection, sites — one in Seattle and the other elsewhere in the county.  No locations have been announced. But they would be the first such sites in the United States and patterned after safe drug-use sites in Vancouver, B.C.

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Although some in Renton said the controversial sites are a bad idea, others said it’s an option that needs to be considered.

“Less people will die, less people will be hurt, less people will be looking or places to go on the street, where it’s not safe. I think that’s a plus more than a negative,” said Ben Margreiter, who lives in Renton.

Margreiter says he understands the concerns that a safe injection site may bring more drugs to the city.

“It’s not a pretty thing to think (about) people injecting themselves somewhere with illegal drugs,” said Margreiter.

He says drastic times call for drastic measures, considering the growing drug problem in King County.

“The way it’s currently being handled doesn’t seem to be working, a lot of people die, a lot of people have nowhere to go, I don’t think that helps anybody,” said Margreiter.

Fellow Renton residents that Q13 News talked to Monday night agreed with him.

“You’re not creating new drug users just because we have a safe injection site; it’s people who are already using it,” said Alix Nickerson, who added that such a site would also translate to more people seeking help.

“You’re probably not going to go up to someone and ask for help, but if someone is there, they're probably more willing to get help,” Nickerson said.

One of those people who sought help, Jin-Ah Kim, a recovering heroin addict who is running for Shoreline City Council, says a safe injection site would have helped her sooner.

“If we’re trying to maximize the impact, then we should be putting them in more strategic areas,” Kim said.

Renton is the fourth city in King County to oppose the possibility of taking a safe injection site, joining Bellevue, Federal Way and Auburn. The Kent City Council plans to take up the issue Tuesday night.

Kim says other cities need to be more open to a problem that needs a community-wide solution.

“When I say maximum impact -- close to easy transport, lose to treatment centers, close to family -- it takes a village to help an addict,” Kim said.

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