Mountlake Terrace City Council reviews trespassing ordinance, state and federal legislative agendas

Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Pete Caw

Among the topics explored by the Mountlake Terrace City Council during its Thursday, Nov. 3 work/study session was a proposal that would allow police to issue a trespass notice to individuals who exhibit disruptive, abusive or criminal behavior while in city buildings or on city property.

Police Chief Pete Caw explained that the proposed ordinance was drafted with the idea of balancing both the need to protect city staff and an individual’s constitutional rights and rights to due process.

“It defines what is unacceptable and establishes a due process avenue for review and appeal,” Caw told the council. “Beyond this, the proposed ordinance will provide law enforcement with an effective tool when dealing with non-criminal disruptive behavior.”

The ordinance wouldn’t apply to parks property, as the city already has legislation on the books allowing trespass warnings and/or exclusion from city parks for such behavior. The trespass ordinance also does not apply to members of the public attending city council meetings, he added.

Under the draft ordinance, an individual receiving a trespass warning would be banned from the premises where the violation occurred for up to seven days for a first offense, and for a longer duration for multiple offenses.

Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Erin Murray

Councilmember Erin Murray said she had concerns about the portion of the draft ordinance that addresses disruptive behavior, which includes “unreasonably hostile or aggressive language or gestures, “unreasonably loud vocal expression or unreasonably boisterous physical behavior” and “behavior that is unreasonably inconsistent with the normal use for which the publicly owned property was designed and intended.” Examples of the latter could include bathing, shaving or washing clothes in a public bathroom or skating/skateboarding in a public parking area or plaza.

“I think there’s some conversation to be had about some of the specifics to make sure that we are not unintendedly creating barriers or targeting specific demographics in our community that we don’t intend to,” Murray said. She then asked Caw if he could describe the types of behaviors that are viewed as disruptive.

Typically, Caw said, police are called to a city location when a member of the public is exhibiting “loud behavior, cursing, name calling, just being obstinate and not allowing the staff to address their issues and talking over the top of them.”

“We’re not talking about criminal behavior now, we’re talking about disruptive behavior,” Caw explained. “It’s very, very hard to define in terms of black and white…it’s more a judgment call of the officer at the time.”

Councilmember Doug McCardle said that he believes the ordinance is aimed at encouraging civil and respectful behavior. “And if somebody isn’t, then this is kind of an opportunity to have to manage that situation,” he said.

Murray said she is particularly concerned about the subjectivity of “what is unreasonably disruptive, who is unreasonably disruptive, are certain groups of people considered to be unreasonably disruptive to others for the same behavior. There’s a lot of squishiness here, which to me feels uncomfortable as we are thinking about policy,” adding she believes it’s important to view such a policy “through an equity lens.”

Caw replied that based on the council comments, “we probably need to work on this some more,” and added he would meet with the city attorney to do that.

In other business Thursday night, the council reviewed its state and federal legislative agendas, with the city’s long-time contract lobbyists making presentations on what councilmembers can expect legislatively during the year ahead.

State lobbyist Shelly Helder speaks to the Mountlake Terrace City Council Thursday.

State lobbyist Shelly Helder with Gordon Thomas Honeywell noted that the city during the 2022 legislative session received $824,000 for the Hall Creek realignment and $1.2 million for Phase II of the Main Street Revitalization Project. To determine the city’s legislative priorities for the 2023 session, Helder met with the council’s legislative steering committee, consisting of Councilmembers McCardle and Murray, as well as key city staff. “Based on that discussion, I’m recommending that the city have a laser focus on securing funding for Main Street Phase II,” Helder said.

For 15 years, a major focus for the City of Mountlake Terrace has been completing its signature Main Street Revitalization Project, running along 56th Avenue West from the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center to 230th Street Southwest. While Phase I of the project was finished in 2020, the council learned in September that it is facing a potential $18 million shortfall for completing the second phase, which is estimated to cost $23.2 million

The city is planning in the spring to pursue a federal RAISE grant, and those have a minimum match of 20% — which for the Main Street Phase II project would be $4.64 million, Helder said. The state has already allocated $2.45 million toward Main Street Phase II, although that money needs to be reappropriated in upcoming budgets because it hasn’t been spent yet. “I propose that we go to the state and ask for remaining amount needed to secure that 20% match, which would be $2.19 million,” she said.

During the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers will be considering thousands of bills, but a key one in particular is the state Legislature’s reponse to the Blake decision. In 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that drug possession was no longer a felony and in response, the Legislature determined it would be a misdemeanor. “When they made that decision, they set a two-year sunset on that,” meaning it expires in June 2023, Helder explained. “So this legislative session is really critical for the Legislature to decide, what are we going to do about the possession of drugs?”

State Sen. Jesse Salomon, who represents Mountlake Terrace in the 32nd District, “has been really engaged in the discussion (about the Blake decision) and I expect he will continue to be,” Helder said.

A question came up about adding a public safety element to the city’s legislative agenda. Helder said it would make sense for the council to include a statement expressing support for actions the state should take once the legislation related to the Blake decision expires, so that both law enforcement and the courts have clarity on how to address such cases. “If the Legislature does nothing, it’s no longer illegal to possess drugs and then law enforcement can do nothing,” she said.

Due to redistricting, Helder also noted that the 2023 legislative session marks the first time that Mountlake Terrace will be represented exclusively by the 32nd District.

Ensuring federal funding through the RAISE grant program for Main Street Phase II was also the focus of the presentation by federal lobbyist Jake Johnston of the Johnston Group. He said that the city’s alignment of state and federal Main Street project requests “creates a really compelling, coordinated message for the city to…hang its hat on. You are preparing your community…for housing, for access to transit, for climate-friendly transportation policies, frankly for putting people close to jobs and putting people close to the infrastructure that gets them to their places of employment.

“Main Street isn’t just redevelopment of a sidewalk and expanding a road, it’s a vision for what this community needs to be,” and it’s been “built on a decade of extraordinary work,” Johnston continued. “It’s time to deliver the federal funding to bring it home.”

Also due to redistricting, Johnston said that Mountlake Terrace will be represented in Congress by 1st District U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, assuming she wins re-election next week. In the past, the city has been included in the 2nd District and represented by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen

As we previously reported, the council also Thursday night unanimously approved a contract to hire Andrew Neiditz as the city’s interim city manager. Assistant City Manager Stephen Clifton has been serving in that role since Scott Hugill announced his resignation Oct. 3 for health reasons.

Neiditz served as a city manager for the City of Lakewood from 2005-13 and was executive director of South Sound 911 from 2013-2020. He currently is a senior advisor for the Washington City/County Management Association.

He starts his job on Monday, Nov. 7.

The council will meet next on Monday, Nov. 7. During its business meeting, it will hold a public hearing on a proposed 10-year agreement with Waste Management (read more about that in our earlier story) and will also receive a presentation on the city’s proposed 2023-24 biennial budget. Additional special budget-related meetings will follow at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9 and Thursday, Nov. 10, when the council receives city department budget presentations.

The Nov. 7 meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W. To attend the meeting online, go to and enter meeting ID 851 4284 4639 and passcode 110722. To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the same meeting ID and passcode.

You also can view livestreamed meetings and past recordings at

You can see the complete Nov. 7 agenda here. 

— By Teresa Wippel



  1. “unreasonable” by whose standards? By what metric? “Relying on the officer’s judgement” means that the officer gets to decide a code of conduct and I’m not willing to cede that much authority. I agree that there needs to be something done to prevent the hostile meetings we’ve seen in the news. But the council needs to nail down a better definition.

    1. We failed to include a sentence clarifying that this ordinance does not apply to city council meetings — only to behavior in city buildings/property. We’ve updated the story to reflect that information.

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