King County currently has contracts with 36 cities to provide jail services and, up until recently, it was believed that currently King County jail capacity would be exceeded by 2012. Cities were notified in 2001 that they would have to find other jail space after 2012. The cities involved started planning and looking for a site for a new regional jail. They came up with a list of possible sites: annex to the existing King County jail, two other Seattle sites, a site in Bellevue, a site in unincorporated King County and a site in Shoreline, less than half a mile from Mountlake Terrace.
In March of this year, the Mountlake Terrace city council voted to oppose the site in Shoreline, due to concerns about the closeness of the proposed jail site to Mountlake Terrace residential neighborhoods as well as the City Councils concerns about air quality, transportation, and land use impacts from a regional jail.
It is now anticipated that King County will offer an extension to the existing contract to provide approximately 300 beds in the King County jail through 2015. While the need for a new regional jail still exists, the extension gives the cities a little breathing room and a more realistic site selection and development timeline to work with.
A draft environmental impact study for the possible site locations is due out in December. Public meetings regarding the study will be held in January of 2010 and the final EIS will be out in the 2nd quarter of 2010.
So while the “NO JAIL” signs may come down, they’re bound to be back up next year and beyond when the site selection process is further along. Obviously no on wants a jail in their back yard but it has to go some where. Hopefully this process will find the best site for it.
Anyone have any thoughts about the possibility of having a regional jail near by?
For more information, visit the North/East Cities municipal jail planning web site.