FOLLOWUP: City Council approves public-drug-use bill, 6-3

5:35 PM: In the fourth hour of today’s City Council meeting, councilmembers have just approved the bill that brings city law in line with state law, making public drug use potentially prosecutable. As reported last week, the bill co-sponsored by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis states that diversion is preferable to prosecution. Supporters say that’s an improvement on state law. But opponents say this criminalizes a health problem and that the diversion preference is meaningless because the city is not spending the money it wil take to make treatment and services available. The three “no” votes were Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda, Tammy Morales, and Kshama Sawant.

7:15 PM: If you want to see what city reps are saying about the vote, here are links to the news releases:
What the mayor says
What Councilmember Herbold (a yes vote and co-sponsor) says
What Councilmember Mosqueda (citywide rep, a no vote) says
What Councilmember Sara Nelson (citywide rep, a yes vote) says

39 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: City Council approves public-drug-use bill, 6-3"

  • Pelicans September 19, 2023 (5:49 pm)

    Thank you, WSB, for breaking down the votes on this measure. I checked Seattle Times, all four local TV stations, plus two other local news sites, with only one having a link to the CC meeting website. That link seemed to be incomplete in showing who voted for/against, and who was  present for the vote. Of course, it could be me not used to using the city of Seattle CC website 🤔.

    • WSB September 19, 2023 (6:02 pm)

      I don’t know if the vote breakdown is online yet – I watched the meeting live and so reported from that. The meeting had other items once they finally finished with that.

  • West Seattle Mad Sci Guy September 19, 2023 (5:53 pm)

    Complicated issue. Having good friends who have slipped into addiction, it is a physical/medical issue (the addiction) and often also mental health issue and diversion should be emphasized where possible. When I tried to get my friend into rehab there was no available resource. And my friend desperately wanted help. The criminal aspect I only agree with because you can’t let addicts just fester on the street. This is the only mechanism I’m aware of available to compel someone into rehab and other services. 

    • DavidWS September 19, 2023 (9:06 pm)

      Great post WSMSG, I’m in the same camp. I have friends suffering from addiction, with some living on the streets (by choice). The relaxing of laws, although good hearted attempts, have resulted in a rise of violence in these communities. Some of my friends have been on the street for years, with few incidents; but over the past year along, these same friends have been doused with gasoline, bear sprayed, and one had 14 teeth knocked out. I cheer the city council for making this move.  Hopefully, this is a sign that the city leadership is moving in the right direction.  It’s my hope that West Seattle will move forward with voting Rob Saka into the council seat… More common sense on the council is a good thing.

    • whataboutthecreedence September 20, 2023 (9:05 am)

      Reopening mental institutions is what needs to happen. It’s cruel to let mentally ill people waste away on the streets.

      • CMT September 20, 2023 (11:13 am)

        True but who is going to staff these facilities?  There seems to be a shortage of workers everywhere.

    • Confused September 21, 2023 (12:48 am)

      your comment doesn’t make sense. “my friend desperately wanted help” but “[criminality] is the only mechanism I’m aware of available to compel someone into rehab”? didn’t you just present a situation where someone wanted help and the missing piece was access? how would criminalizing public drug use help your friend here? it sounds like there will continue to be no access, and instead we will just be putting the unfavorable of society behind bars b/c we got sick of looking at it and doing nothing about it

  • Bill38 September 19, 2023 (6:16 pm)

    I would be very curious to hear what the candidates for District 1 (Maren Costa and Rob Saka) have to say about this. From what I can see from a  Seattle Times questionnaire Maren answered “NO” to the question of whether Seattle should prosecute individuals for public drug use while Rob answered “YES”

    • Derek September 19, 2023 (7:53 pm)

      GOOD! I’m with Maren. Vote out Davison, Harrell, and Nelson!

      • Canton September 20, 2023 (6:34 am)

        Don’t think so. They are the only sane people we have. Why are you advocating for destroying our city?

    • Del September 19, 2023 (11:55 pm)

      If you look at Rob Saka and Maren Costas recent voting history, you’ll see what kind of politics they will most likely lean towards.

      • Pelicans September 20, 2023 (5:16 am)

        Del, I am interested in what you think their voting records are. Your take, truly. I’m on the fence, as of now…

    • JTM September 20, 2023 (9:28 am)

      Rob Saka was at the council meeting and advocated for the bill to be passed. Costa was not mentioned by the Times in the article below, so I’m assuming she was not there.

  • Pops September 19, 2023 (6:56 pm)

    Well that would be a relief when out running errands to not see people openly smoking drugs.   It’s like, do we live in a civilized society?  Or have I inadvertently been moved somewhere other than America. 

    • Scarlett September 20, 2023 (1:21 pm)

      A civilized society requires courageous citizens.  When people individually have the courage to speak plainly and honestly, regardless of the blowback from opponents or friends, we will have a civilized society.  And I don’t mean on an anonymous thread, I mean in the public arena. 

    • BellyLaughin' September 21, 2023 (12:50 am)

      America? Civilized? Pops got some jokes!

  • flimflam September 19, 2023 (7:07 pm)

    Amazing that this is even a debatable issue.

    • WSDUDEMAN September 19, 2023 (7:57 pm)


  • Steve September 19, 2023 (8:26 pm)

    I mean… you could still get arrested for public intoxication. Alcohol is legal, so why are there opponents of this bill? 

    • Ferns September 20, 2023 (11:57 am)

      This is such a good point. I rarely hear it raised. Public drunkenness can also be a result of addiction.

  • Admiral-2009 September 19, 2023 (10:13 pm)

    It’s about time.  I’m concerned it will not be vigorously enforced.  Look no further than the failure to strictly enforce the 72 hour parking rule.

    • Jon Wright September 19, 2023 (11:23 pm)

      Of course it isn’t going to be enforced. Nothing here is. That’s why all the handwringing that led up to passing this bill was such a pointless farce.

    • Ferns September 20, 2023 (11:59 am)

      Maybe this will make it a little easier to recruit police officers. I probably feels really helpless to have to watch people behaving this way disturbing the peace and have little recourse.

  • KayK September 19, 2023 (10:19 pm)

    Interested to know if any increase in funds was allocated to LEAD or similar diversion options with this? 

  • D September 19, 2023 (11:59 pm)

    There’s a typo with Teresa Mosqueda’s name spelled “Mosaueda” on the last sentence of the first paragraph 

  • Jeff September 20, 2023 (8:21 am)

    This is so outrageous. Yes, let’s trust the SPD and Ann DAvison to be judicious when determining whether to arrest a drug user. (eye roll)

  • Scarlett September 20, 2023 (8:31 am)

    Do you all actually believe that we’re going to police our way out of a socio-economic breakdown of society?   

    • Big Dave September 20, 2023 (11:54 am)

      It’s a start.

      • Jeff September 20, 2023 (12:58 pm)

        War on Drugs failed. So no, it’s regressive. 

      • TwoSteps September 21, 2023 (12:53 am)

        it’s literally a step backwards, Dave

  • DC September 20, 2023 (8:59 am)

    So, can we stop complaining about this now? Herbold voted YES, so can we stop saying she is for taking drugs in public?

  • Derrick September 20, 2023 (11:01 am)

    There are now 15 drug overdose calls to the Seattle Fire Department EVERY DAY. Certainly, criminalization is not a singular tool that will resolve this crisis. However, it is a tool that has a role along with increased access to mental health and substance abuse assistance. It is shameful that we don’t fund programs sufficiently in this region (see the closure of Cascade Hospital this year). 

  • Big Dave September 20, 2023 (11:52 am)

    Mosqueda is the problem. 

    • PDiddy September 20, 2023 (12:17 pm)

      Yeah her Sawant and Morales.

    • Jeff September 20, 2023 (12:57 pm)

      She’s the FURTHEST thing from the problem. Harrell is the problem. Mosqueda is smart and knows this won’t change anything. All this does is empower cops and Davison to keep harassing poor people. This will NOT fix the obvious socioeconomic underlying issue.

      • You Are The Issue September 20, 2023 (5:21 pm)

        MOST “poor people” somehow manage to NOT use drugs on the street, Jeff.  The ones who do are a problem, not because they are “poor” but because the lifestyle they choose creates a problem for everyone else.  Your insistence on ignoring the obvious issue in front of all our faces every day is simply laughable, and puts you squarely in the category of “people creating a problem” as well.

        • No_U September 21, 2023 (12:58 am)

          Lol, your solution to that problem is to put people in cages which further exacerbates the problem. But for a short amount of time you don’t have to see it yourself, so probably a boon to you. Jeff is right that vulnerable, marginalized people are the lion’s share (if not exclusively) the folks that end up in this situation, and to solve the problem causing you to crush your beautiful pearls we need to solve the underlying material inequalities these folks are going through. Jeff is addressing the actual issue, you are more focused on violently whipping these people into shape which has shown every single time to not be effective.

      • Big Dave September 21, 2023 (5:20 am)

        Citizens are better protected from criminals when police are empowered. We’re missing a third of our police force, run off by our activists on the city council. Time to empower law enforcement again. 

  • Admiral-2009 September 20, 2023 (7:09 pm)

    I hope the Mayor’s directive includes immediate arrest for people using on Public Transit, near schools and parks and other locations where children are present.

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