A coalition of business leaders in Spokane is backing the “Safe Open Spaces” ordinance to safeguard employees and customers from accidental needle pokes and unintended drug exposure. These crucial amendments will also help restore public spaces for all residents, as they have been overtaken by individuals consuming drugs.
The Spokane City Council is set to discuss the “Safe Open Spaces” ordinance on Monday. The proposal, put forward by Mayor Woodward and supported by Councilmembers Cathcart and Bingle, seeks to make loitering for the purpose of using drugs unlawful. As the Legislature has failed to reinstate statewide drug possession laws and other communities such as Marysville, Lakewood, Kent, and Bellingham have already implemented similar policies, it is critical that Spokane does not lag behind.
The coalition’s message to the City Council is that the ordinance would give officers the authority to seize drugs and paraphernalia and arrest individuals openly using drugs in public. Ensuring the ordinance includes strong criminal penalties is essential to establishing an accountable strategy for connecting those struggling on the streets with treatment and cracking down on predatory dealers who exploit them.