SNOHOMISH COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2
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Linda Smith, owner of BT Development in Everett, says she spends much time during her week dealing with damage and trespassing issues on her commercial properties. She hopes a fresh approach on Snohomish County Council will help find solutions to issues plaguing local businesses.
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Monday, October 28, 2019 6:00am
Linda Smith sincerely wants to feel optimistic about the future of the community she’s done business in for the past 20 years.
A property owner in a high-profile gateway into downtown Everett, Smith would love to see her neighborhood around 41st Street and Colby Avenue – and the rest of the city – grow with new businesses. She envisions new local jobs for residents and a broadened tax base for a city facing a projected deficit of up to $20 million.
But Smith sees hesitation from potential business operators considering setting up shop here. While there are various reasons for that, she fears the biggest are the area’s high crime rate and concerns over personal safety.
“I spent the majority of one day last week dealing with six different criminal activities on my properties,” she says. At one point, while showing a space to a potential tenant, they were randomly approached by two people who appeared to be “higher than a kite.” This type of encounter has happened before when Smith has been showing a property, she says. She hopes the prospect wasn’t scared off by the encounter, but she’s not sure.
Daily routine disheartening
Born and raised in Everett, Smith returned home to run her family’s company, BT Development. For years her daily routine has included a driving patrol of her properties to scout out illegal behaviors.
“It’s endless,” she says. “About a week ago, I came across someone who was camped out. When I asked them to move along as it was private property, they picked up a rock and threatened to throw it at me.” The person was later arrested on suspicion of harassment. “I’m on my property and I don’t feel safe there on my own.”
Security systems proving fruitless
Despite spending “tens of thousands of dollars” on security systems, and posting trespassing signs, transients continue to linger and numerous incidents of damage have been discovered, she says. Cameras monitoring one vacant building were stolen and many windows broken. She was even forced to remove the dumpster enclosures, as people were sleeping inside them and using the relative privacy to shoot up and defecate, she says. “I’ve even found stolen mail in there.”
Solutions needed to restore faith in the city
While Snohomish County has the second-highest median income in the state, Everett’s median income has remained mostly stagnant since 2010. Smith blames crime for eroding the tax base and keeping businesses and good jobs away. By taking a harder stance on low-level, drug-related crime, politicians at the City and County level could help clean things up, boost the tax base and have more funds to get people into treatment and housing, she adds.
“Everett has so much to offer, but it makes me incredibly sad to see where we’re going,” she says.
Candidate’s stance a “breath of fresh air”
County Council District 2 candidate Anna Rohrbough’s calls for consequence-based solutions for addicts involved in crime are a “breath of fresh air,” says Smith, a fellow Mukilteo resident. “She really enjoys people and wants to see them thrive. She has the leadership skills, compassion and knowledge to help find solutions to these problems.”
Consider the costs of crime
It is imperative to look at the cost of crime on residents, but also its impact on the ability of businesses to not only thrive, but to want to put down roots here, Rohrbough says. “To attract businesses that provide living wage jobs and economic vitality, we must protect their property and people from harm,” she adds.
Creating safe places for people to work and live fosters a supportive community and allows businesses and individuals to thrive, which positively impacts the county’s economy, Rohrbough says. “When we grow our revenue we create a more sustainable workforce, sustainable budgets and a sustainable revenue source that directly eases the tax burden on our homeowners. I deeply care about the future of our county and I will do everything I can to support the growth of Snohomish County.”